Scarlett Breeding designed bands of windows on the back of the home to take advantage of the views.
 A gracefully curved stair creates drama in the front entry.
Flared rooflines impart an Asian sensibility to the front façade.
The fireplace in the living room is flanked by views of the creek.
The dining area holds a table from Lillian August.
A blue-and-white palette prevails on the broad porch.
Kingsley-Bate chairs are paired with a vintage McGuire dining table on the porch.
In the kitchen, sleek, modern Downsview cabinetry stands out against a metallic glass-tile backsplash.
The master bedroom boasts a tufted-leather headboard from Vanguard.
A bay in the master bedroom holds a cozy  armchair.
The walk-in master closet keeps clutter at bay.
The freestanding soaking tub in the master bath offers room to relax.

East Meets West

Architect Scarlett Breeding designs a new waterfront home that suits her client’s unique style

What sailor hasn’t dreamt of docking his boat right in front of his own house?” asks an Annapolis homeowner. She and her husband got their wish when they purchased a property that overlooks Spa Creek—just steps from the sailboat that serves as their floating home a good part of every year. When they’re in Annapolis, however, the couple settles into this 4,600-square-foot, two-bedroom “retirement home” that is just the right size for their needs.

Though these active homeowners are indeed retired—he from real estate development and she from interior design—they’re anything but retiring. When they’re not sailing through New England in the summer or down to Florida and the Bahamas in the winter, they’re enjoying their second career having fun in Annapolis.

The couple previously lived in Upstate New York, but when they officially retired 15 years ago, Annapolis and its sailing traditions beckoned. Their first home in the historic district was itself historic: a 125-year-old brick residence with a formal garden and carriage house that they restored from the ground up.

Although they now admit the house didn’t reflect their design aesthetic, they weren’t considering a move until they learned a friend had put her Spa Creek property up for sale. The wife drove by and was immediately struck by the proximity to town, uninterrupted water views, and private dock. “I went home to my husband,” she recalls, “and said, ‘You should see what I just saw!’” 

Her husband did see it, and he agreed that serendipity had spoken. Unfortunately, so had the real estate market—so while they were able to purchase the property, they had to wait out the market until the timing was better to sell their historic home.

In the interim, they began the lengthy process of obtaining the permits required to build a new waterfront property in Anne Arundel County. “It was frustrating but also gave us the time to refine what we wanted,” says the husband. Indeed, their entire vision evolved significantly during that period, especially once they turned to architect Scarlett Breeding to incorporate their ideas into a coherent whole. “We looked at the house from a fresh perspective,” says Breeding, “and worked closely with the owners to develop a home that reflected their personal style.”

Ultimately, it was agreed that their new home would have a more relaxed feel than their previous one. And it would take full advantage of its expansive waterfront views from the front door on.

As a designer, the wife has always gravitated to an Asian aesthetic, but she also wanted the home to reflect its shore location. By combining a flared roofline with silvery gray exterior shingles, Breeding was able to connect both sensibilities. The addition of two forward-extending pavilions on either side of the front porch accomplishes two goals: It breaks up the square shape of the home while harkening back to Japanese design in which the elements of harmony and balance are key. Long, deep overhangs and horizontal lines also reinforce an Asian-inspired sense of peace and tranquility.

In the main living space, Breeding created an open plan that incorporates living, dining and kitchen areas. French doors open to the porch—a living space on its own with long views toward town. Moldings, casework, and built-ins, fashioned by the contractor, Bayview Builders, add depth without compromising on clean lines. Breeding added other unique touches including the graceful staircase with custom-fabricated steel balusters in a pewter finish.

Upstairs, skylights bring natural light into the master bedroom, bath and dressing room, even on the gloomiest days. The Zen-like design has “a touch of glam thrown in,” says Breeding. The lower level features a colorful family room for hanging out, a guest suite and a walkout to the garden and plunge pool designed by landscape architect Robert Hruby.

The owners couldn’t be happier with the results. “This home is elegant, quiet, open and modern,” says the wife. “Everyone who comes in immediately feels comfortable.”

Breeding says the project was a “team effort” involving the architects, clients, and builder. “We all wanted to create a house that would respond to how they use it,” she says.

Mission accomplished, say the homeowners. “This is such a happy home,” concludes the wife. “It fits us to a tee.”

Writer Carol Sorgen is based in Baltimore, Maryland. David Burroughs is an Annapolis photographer.

Architecture: Scarlett Breeding, AIA, Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.
Contractor: David Carlisle, Bayview Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture:
Robert Hruby, ASLA, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.