Home & Design

In one of two inviting seating areas in the coffered great room, furniture is upholstered in soft, indoor-outdoor fabrics that can withstand crowds, children and a frisky dog.

Tracy McCann of Kitchen & Bath Creations designed the chef’s kitchen. Amenities include a wet bar, a pantry with extra ovens and a sink-free island for laying out sumptuous buffets.

As seen from the river, the expansive main-floor porch invites lounging and dining. A second-floor balcony connects the owners’ wing on the left with the guest bedrooms. The covered breezeway leads to a gym above the garage.

The main-floor porch boasts bluestone flooring, a mahogany-slat ceiling, a rustic fireplace and retractable bug screens.

The kitchen’s Dutch door opens to the back porch dining area.

The owners’ bedroom refuge overlooks a bend in the river. The home is outfitted with Windsor windows from The Sanders Company.

Four generations often gather at this waterfront estate. The welcoming entry portico opens to a two-story foyer.

River Retreat

Marta Hansen crafts a Shingle-style forever home on the Severn

Maria and Ray Kostkowski spent eight years searching for the perfect spot to build their “forever” home on the Severn River. They hadn’t lived on the water since selling a nearby home they had remodeled when their now-adult sons were still teenagers.

This time around the couple—she’s a real estate agent, he’s a venture capitalist—wanted a stylish, amenity-rich waterfront estate where they could host their four-generation clan, entertain friends and ultimately age in place. (Think interior elevator and a lower level, now occupied by Maria’s mother, that could someday become caregiver quarters). 

They jumped on a nearly-four-acre lot in Severna Park, Maryland, and hired architect Marta Hansen, who grew up sailing the Chesapeake with her parents and had already designed nearly 200 homes along the region’s scenic waterways. She says her practice evolved after architecture school, when family friends kept hiring her to create waterfront dream homes in many sizes and styles. 

In 2022, after a year of pandemic-era construction, the architect delivered the Kostkowskis’ 7,565-square-foot retreat, beautifully sited atop the tract with prime river frontage. “It’s a Shingle-style Tudor/Arts and Crafts” home, which, given its size, says Hansen, “is almost like a cottage on steroids.” Surrounded by majestic trees, the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath residence evokes coastal New England style, but with easy-care cement-fiber shingles instead of high-upkeep cedar shakes. A trio of front gables, a large arched window and a smaller oval porthole add visual interest. 

Hansen designed the home with two main-floor focal points: The distant sweeping curves of the Severn snaking past lush woodland on both banks, and a wide, welcoming covered rear porch running the length of the 42-foot-long great room. Retractable electric screens that repel the region’s pesky warm-weather bugs vanish into the porch’s top beams for critter-free outdoor living the rest of the year.

The architectural drama inside begins just beyond the front porch, where a soaring two-story foyer leads into the great room. Quarter-sawn white oak flooring unifies the main level; coffered ceilings break up an otherwise flat expanse while hiding numerous lights and sprinklers. 

The center dining area is anchored by a long table and chairs, just steps from the chef’s kitchen on the left. A Wolf range and white upper and lower cabinets topped with white quartz line the kitchen’s perimeter. The large, deep-blue island was designed to accommodate sumptuous buffets. Since the Kostkowskis often host their children, two grandkids and extended family, the kitchen includes a wet bar and a walk-in pantry with extra ovens. Maria jokes that even washing dishes is now a pleasure because the window above the sink overlooks the river.

Doors in the kitchen and great room open to the rear porch, where furniture groupings and a tall fieldstone fireplace roughly parallel seating vignettes and the smaller, formal mantelpiece indoors. Hansen left space between the garage and the home directly under the second-floor breezeway to break up the long streetside structure and to catch the Severn breezes while grilling outdoors.

Décor throughout the home is simple and welcoming. “We didn’t want it beachy,” says Maria, who favors a subtle palette of blues, grays, whites and earth tones. Those hues dominate four large abstract paintings on the main level by the late Joe Niermann, co-founder of Niermann Weeks in nearby Millersville, which fabricated the home’s indoor and outdoor light fixtures.

Interior designer Linda Hartman of Severna Park, who specializes in sorority house décor, helped select durable furniture upholstered in soft indoor-outdoor performance fabrics. “Maria wanted clean, easy-going lines—nothing fussy,” she notes. “All the sofas can be cleaned with a sponge using water or a light bleach solution” to withstand the dog, children and crowds of revelers.

Most of the furnishings are from Lexington Home Brands in North Carolina, save for occasional antiques and favorite pieces the couple already owned. Window treatments were kept to a minimum to preserve the views.

Half of the second floor comprises an owners’ wing, which boasts a large bedroom and a long, sleek bathroom, both with jaw-dropping river vistas. The couple’s walk-in closet is off the interior hallway, which, along with the parallel exterior balcony, connects to a pair of additional bedrooms, a half-bath and a laundry room. An exercise room built over the garage could easily be converted into a fifth bedroom with a full ensuite bath. 

The home’s impressive panoramas are best observed from Ray Kostkowski’s airy third-floor office. “I own a building not far from here, and every day I say I’m going there to work,” he muses. But once at his desk, he can’t seem to tear himself away from this little corner of Severn heaven.

Architecture: Marta Hansen, AIA, LEED AP, Hansen Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Linda Hartman, Linda Hartman Interiors, LLC, Severna Park, Maryland. Kitchen Design: Tracy McCann, Kitchen & Bath Creations, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Design: Denison Landscaping Inc., Fort Washington, Maryland.

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