Located in the sleepy residential enclave of Shady Side on the bay just south of Annapolis, the peninsula of McKinley Point yields panoramic views from three sides for homeowners lucky enough to live along the waterfront.
Since moving into their home on Maryland’s West River in June 2012, a couple with grown children has been among the lucky ones. They already had a property in Shady Side when they fell in love with the white clapboard house with prime views on more than five acres. “We were supposed to be downsizing,” laughs the wife, a librarian. “But waterfront property was hard to pass up.”
She and her husband, an attorney, also had a house in the Wesley Heights neighborhood of DC, where they spend much of their time as both maintain careers in the District. Smitten with their find, they decided to sell their landlocked Shady Side home and their DC home and make the waterfront abode their full-time residence. They also bought a Washington town house that comes in handy on nights when work keeps them in the city.
Built by German immigrants in 1907, their newly acquired five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home had its quirks. As was customary for the period, its original main entry faced the water—not the road. When previous owners shifted the entry to the street side, the one-time entry foyer—complete with its original pillars—became a sitting area. Later, when a C-shaped porch was built around it, the pillared room was enclosed in glass. Eventually, the porch was also glassed in. Now a sitting room and sunroom respectively, both spaces make ideal spots for the family to gather and enjoy views of the bay.
Today, visitors approach the house via a drive bordered on one side by a pool and outbuildings housing a three-car garage, guesthouse and pool house. The front door opens to a wide hallway flanked by twin parlors (now the family and living rooms). At the end of the hall, the vista beckons through the sitting room. The sunroom houses the dining room, a sitting area that opens to a patio and a play area for grandkids when they visit. A path leads out to the dock where the couple’s boat is moored.
The house was last renovated in 1984. Since then, “it was maintained but not decorated,” says the wife. She and her husband tapped Kelley Proxmire for the job of updating and making it feel like home. For the designer, who has decorated four other homes for the couple over the years, this was an easy task. “Kelley really knows us and knows everything we have,” comments the wife.
The goal was to lighten the dark, dated interiors while emphasizing dramatic water views. Proxmire chose a palette of cream and white with blue and green accents to connect the interiors with the outdoors. While she recarpeted the floors throughout, she left the windows unadorned or framed in treatments that “finish the rooms without obstructing the views.”
She worked with the unconventional configuration of the sitting room and sunroom, selecting fabrics and white-painted or wicker pieces that lighten both spaces. “I wanted it white with blue and green accents,” she says of the sitting room, which is a focal point for guests entering the house. “This way your eye doesn’t stop, but continues to the view.”
Throughout the house, Proxmire repurposed furniture and artwork from the couple’s former residences to convey a fresh, new vibe. Sofas and chairs have been reupholstered and occasional chairs painted white and recovered. “It’s fun to repurpose,” the designer says. “I love the challenge of moving things around to create something new.”
Upstairs, a master bedroom and renovated bath share space with a home office and two guestrooms, one of which Proxmire beautifully appointed in lavender and white. Two more bedrooms occupy the third floor. To one side of the house is a screened porch. “We lived out here all summer,” observes the wife. “No matter how hot it gets, there’s always a breeze off the water.”
Photographer Kip Dawkins is based in Richmond, Virginia.
Interior Design: Kelley Proxmire, Kelley Interior Design, Bethesda, Maryland.