The allure of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay proved impossible to resist for a McLean couple whose son had graduated from the Naval Academy. Four years of visits and a vacation spent on the bay cinched the deal: The couple decided to build a weekend home near Annapolis that will eventually serve as their permanent residence when the husband, a business executive, retires in a few years. “We really like the activity here,” says the wife, “and it’s so beautiful.”
The pair fell in love with—and acquired—a waterfront property in the historic Bay Ridge community. Planning to tear down the outdated, 1920s-era stucco home on the lot and start anew, they assembled a team of local professionals for design and construction. Builder Guy Pilli, architect Cathy Purple Cherry, interior designer Arlene Critzos and landscape architect Kevin Campion collaborated to create a retreat that would blend timeless, traditional forms with a relaxed aesthetic befitting this beachy locale.
“We wanted a house that is casual and open, but also very nice for family and friends to enjoy,” says the husband. “And we wanted to utilize the views as much as possible. Why live on the water and not be able to see it?”
While the lot offers unobstructed views of the bay, a paved street separates it from the shoreline. This raised a question: Should the driveway and main entry be located on the water side of the property, where parked cars would block views, or on the opposite side, where there is also street access? The owners went for the latter option, making the water side of the home essentially its “backyard.”
Purple Cherry carefully sited the 7,500-square-foot home to create the largest possible footprint within the confines of critical area rules and setbacks. The architect also considered the owners’ affinity for the shingled homes found on Nantucket, with wide porches, cedar-shake roofs, and dormer windows. She honed in on a center-hall colonial floor plan that would locate a family room, dining room, kitchen and breakfast area to the left of the entry. The husband’s study and utility areas such as the garage, mudroom and powder room would occupy the right.
Abundant windows and transoms maximize views and brighten the interiors. “Natural light makes a huge difference to the happiness in a house,” says Purple Cherry.
The second floor harbors the master suite, a bedroom for the couple’s grandchild, the wife’s study and a TV room. A suite above the garage with separate stair access hosts guests, including their grown son and daughter. A lower level boasts another guest suite, a media room, a wine cellar and an exercise room.
Crisp millwork and precise symmetry bring a sense of order to the interior architecture. “I start a design by thinking how it needs to flow from inside to outside; there’s a logical connection,” says Purple Cherry. “For me, it’s about a natural reduction of chaos.”
When it came to furnishing the home, the owners’ guidelines were simple. “Always comfort, always good wood and always a quiet sophistication,” recalls Arlene Critzos. “It’s not over-decorated. It’s just at ease.”
The designer tempered a “cleaner traditional” look with subtle hints of coastal style. Punches of blue—on the dining-room walls and kitchen backsplash—enliven a neutral color scheme. “Until you go to the grandchild’s room, the house could be anywhere,” she says. “But when you see the crisp blue-and-white color palette and look out to the Chesapeake, it all fits together.”
The kitchen extends from the front to the back of the home. Kitchen designer Joni Zimmerman helped create a large, functional space where a breakfast area overlooks the bay on one side. On the other, a back kitchen features a steam oven, a second dishwasher, and a beverage bar. “I cook a lot and the kitchen is just dream,” says the wife. “It has great flow.”
The palette shifts to pale golden hues in the serene master suite, complete with wainscoting and a fireplace. As Critzos says, a “touch of sunshine” embellishes the master bath, with onyx tile inlaid in the shower and on the marble floor.
Landscape architect Kevin Campion designed gardens that surround the home with low-maintenance shrubs and native grasses. “We needed to create two front garden spaces, one functional and one ceremonial,” he explains. “The back porch is where the owners live when they’re outside due to the amazing water views.”
On the back porch, furniture was chosen for comfort and durability against high winds and brackish breezes. As Critzos observes, it’s best to be ready for all kinds of weather. “When you live on the water, it’s not just about the beautiful sunny days,” she says. “It’s also about beautiful storms, beautiful clouds—and beautiful four seasons.”
The owners attribute the success of the project to their team of talented design pros, all frequent collaborators. “They knew each other and were able to communicate to make sure they were taking care of the details,” says the husband. “They worked well together.”
He and his wife now enjoy spending long weekends and holidays in their new Annapolis retreat. “When we start slowing down to the speed limit to get into Bay Ridge, we begin relaxing,” the wife relates. “And once we’re there, we don’t want to leave.”
Photographer David Burroughs is based in Annapolis.
ARCHITECTURE: CATHY PURPLE CHERRY, AIA, LEED AP, CAS, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN: ARLENE CRITZOS, JOYCE PEARL, SAMANTHA SOPP-WITTWER, Interior Concepts, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. KITCHEN DESIGN: JONI ZIMMERMAN, CKD, CBD, Design Solutions, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. BUILDER: GUY PILLI, Pilli Custom Homes, Millersville, Maryland. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: KEVIN CAMPION, ASLA, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.
DINING ROOM Rug: Custom through interiorconceptsinc.com. Chandelier: visualcomfort.com. Decorative Painting: warnockstudios.com. Table, Chairs & Sideboard: theodorealexander.com. Chair Fabric: fairfieldchair.com. Table Lamps: eastenterprises.net.
KITCHEN Cabinets: signaturecustomcabinetry.com. Backsplash: inhomestone.com. Appliances: subzero-wolf.com. Breakfast Chairs & Bar Stools: stanleyfurniture.com. Pendants: troy-lighting.com. Breakfast Table: oldbiscaynedesigns.com. Breakfast Room Light Fixture: visualcomfort.com.
KIDS’ ROOM Headboard & Shams: interiorconceptsinc.com. Headboard Fabric: duralee.com. Coverlet: amityhome.com. Dresser & Nightstand: stanleyfurniture.com. Lamp: surya.com. Drapery Fabric: duralee.com. Art: spicherandco.com. Mirror: bassettmirror.com.
MASTER BEDROOM Nightstand & Bed: stanleyfurniture.com. Bedding: easternaccents.com; legacylinens.com. Table & Floor Lamps: eastenterprises.net. Shutters: hunterdouglas.com. Chaise: leeindustries.com. Drapery: fabricut.com.