Situated on a peninsula that juts into the Tred Avon River’s picturesque Peach Blossom Creek, a 19th-century center-hall Colonial in Easton, Maryland, commands the attention of visitors, who traverse a stately, tree-lined drive to reach its gracious entry. The house is beautiful, but until recently, it was missing one key ingredient: a connection to its stunning waterfront surroundings.
After purchasing the house as a weekend getaway, the owners hired architect Jim Rill and interior designer Jodi Macklin—who as a team had renovated previous houses for the couple—to update the interiors while imparting a better sense of the home’s eye-catching locale. “The house was worn. It didn’t have that close-to-the-water feel,” says Rill. “But we were able to make huge changes through simple modifications.”
One such alteration occurred in the wide front hallway, where Rill and his team repositioned a closet and replaced a solid single door at the back with glass double doors that frame a water vista and dock—visible from the front door. French doors in the dining and living rooms also open out to the back.
Throughout the house, wainscoting, paneled walls and ceilings and built-ins now lend character and interest. Panels on the base of the stairwell impart a sculptural feel. An oversized powder room has been divided into a smaller one, adjoining an anteroom clad in wainscoting. And an enclosed side porch off the living room now boasts a full bar embellished with a copper countertop.
A 1990s addition to the residence houses the kitchen and family room, which have been “refreshed,” as Rill describes it. What was a vaulted ceiling of drywall has been paneled in beadboard? Dark-stained support beams have been painted white and panels below the gabled windows add visual interest. The breakfast nook, also paneled, centers on a built-in banquette. A new stone fireplace surround and clean-lined mantel create a focal point at the far end of the room. A wormy chestnut countertop on one leg of the L-shaped island adds warmth, while the remaining counters and backsplash are marble.
After collaborating on numerous projects, Rill, Macklin and their clients have developed a working shorthand that made the process seamless for everyone. “Jodi looked over my shoulder on the bathrooms and kitchen,” Rill comments, “and I looked over hers for the interior design.” The design team would present options to the owners, who made their selections and, essentially, got out of the way.
As she has done before, Macklin’s task was to express the couple’s elegantly clean-lined, transitional style throughout the interiors—but this time with a strong nod to the waterfront environment. After discussing her likes and dislikes during an initial meeting, the owner, says Macklin, “let me run with it.” Against a background of crisp white millwork and trim, the designer “went neutral, with earth tones infused with blues and greens for the setting and a more relaxed feel.
“When I’m doing waterfront houses,” Macklin continues, ”I’m more sensitive to the environment and work to bring the exterior in. There’s a sense of calm and peacefulness to these homes.”
Upstairs, the master suite beautifully conveys the vibe she was after, with elegant yet comfortable furniture and a soft, neutral color scheme that makes the views pop. The master bath is timeless, with marble and Blue Lagos limestone floors, a sleek shower room and custom vanities designed by Rill.
Entertaining guests was a priority, so Rill and Macklin made sure the guestrooms would be comfortable and afford plenty of privacy. On the second floor, there’s a bedroom and sitting room/library complete with a beverage center, while the finished third floor beckons with two pretty bedrooms and a marble-clad bath.
Thanks to the home’s peninsula setting, nearly every room in the house boasts river views. “It’s a special house,” observes Macklin. “The owners just love it.”
Photographer Kip Dawkins is based in Richmond, Virginia.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: JAMES F. RILL, AIA, principal; LINDA GALLEGOS, project manager, Rill Architects PC, Bethesda, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN: JODI MACKLIN, principal; LAUREN SPARBER, designer, Jodi Macklin Interior Design, Chevy Chase, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: R.J. COOPER, ILEX Construction, Easton, Maryland.