Ca­sual and com­fort­able and set in the coun­try

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ES­TATE -

DREAM HOME, There is an abun­dance of cherry built-in shelv­ing and clos­ets. Spike-leafed floor plants rest­ing on nat­u­ral cork and ceramic flooring and a va­ri­ety of live orchids placed in­side slate-topped niches present a de­cid­edly South­west­ern feel. Set pieces are ar­ti­san-crafted from a va­ri­ety of metals, ceramic and clay. Lamps fea­ture sol­dered metal shades hold­ing col­ored glass pieces.

The de­sign leaves no room for sur­prise when Cathy Klein, seated at her Mis­sion­style din­ing room ta­ble with her Ber­nese moun­tain dog, Bowser, at her feet, ex­plains that the house was de­signed by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The house — the orig­i­nal 3,500 square feet of it — was de­signed by Thomas Bab­bitt of Litch­field, Conn., and built in 1957 as a sum­mer home for a prom­i­nent Wash­ing­ton fam­ily.

“The fam­ily had no heirs, so they placed the prop­erty in trust to the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy,” said Cathy Klein. “The Con­ser­vancy con­tacted a land­scap­ing com­pany to clean up [the land], and they called my hus­band.”

Steve Klein, 59, and his wife, are own­ers of River Hill Gar­den Cen­ter in Clarksvill­e. While do­ing the work, he fell in love with the house and a 25-acre swath of prop­erty be­hind it. The year was 1988. The orig­i­nal own­ers also put an ease­ment on house and prop­erty to the Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust. The Kleins may never sub­di­vide their 25 acres, and while it de­creases the prop­erty value, the cou­ple en­joys the beauty of the home and set­ting.

The rest of the land along the drive­way is farmed by an­other fam­ily.

“Our near­est neigh­bor is 265 acres away,” said Cathy Klein, 58. “And be­hind us is the Tri­adel­phia Reser­voir.”

The orig­i­nal house had three bed­rooms, a work­room, three bath­rooms, a pow­der room, a great room and a kitchen. In 1999 the cou­ple, who had two chil­dren and lots of out-of town com­pany, de­cided on a more than 3,000-square-foot ad­di­tion, which, along with a new kitchen, in­cluded a com­plete in-law apart­ment and garage.

“We also added a base­ment by not changing the grade of the land, and the home’s orig­i­nal car­port be­came a fam­ily room,” Cathy Klein said.

Mike But­ler, an ar­chi­tect from Clarksvill­e who de­signed the ad­di­tion, was able to con­sult the plans from Bab­bitt’s orig­i­nal blue­print. He an­gled win­dows to match the ex­ist­ing ones and built the large kitchen island with a black gran­ite coun­ter­top.

Cathy Klein dec­o­rated the home in the Mis­sion style, and other fur­nish­ings are rem­i­nis­cent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s hand­i­work, in­clud­ing the cork flooring, the lead­glass win­dows and a chevron-shaped light fix­ture with stained glass.

Over the years, the Kleins added deck­ing to the back of the house along with land­scap­ing that in­cluded two ponds and a wa­ter­fall.

“Right now, we say this is too much house for us, but you never know what the kids might do. They might take it; they might not,” Cathy Klein said. “We’ve grown to love it. It’s ca­sual and com­fort­able and with lots of fam­ily, it still fits the bill.”


The fam­ily room, with its stone wall and Mis­sion fur­ni­ture, looks into the kitchen, which has a view of the un­de­vel­oped acreage around the house.

The low, one-story front of the Arts and Crafts house, de­signed by Thomas Bab­bitt of Litch­field, Conn., hardly hints at the light, ex­pan­sive in­te­rior.

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