Casual and comfortable and set in the country
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.