Before they began the hunt for their dream home, Mike and Kathy Wilmot created separate wish lists. "I always wanted a big stone house with lots of space, lots of character," Kathy said. "And lots of light, high ceilings and in a great neighborhood," added Mike, 48.
When the two compared lists, "We were shocked. We had written down the same things," they said in unison. The search led to the Pot Springs neighborhood in Lutherville ? that was incidentally founded in 1722 by a Wilmot. The find was a 7,500-square-foot fieldstone-and-wood house tucked on a hill in the embrace of old trees. Some days deer are visible. Kathy, 48, playfully describes the three-level, five-bedroom house they have lived in for four years as "contemporary rustic."
Getting the house just right for their family, which includes two sons and two dogs, meant clearing enough trees in front of the house to build a two-car garage and create an unimpeded flood of light through the big-picture windows of the living room. A sundeck with a gazebo visible through the windows does seamless double duty as the garage?s roof.
At the back of the house, just outside the kitchen, is a patio and summer kitchen with a stone grill and oven built into the side of the hill. "That?s caveman territory," Mike joked. "Every guy who comes here walks right toward that," he said pointing at the stainless steel double grill. A waterfall, enclosed hot tub and 9-foot-deep swimming pool make it difficult for guests to think about going home.
A favorite place for the Wilmots, who are partners in their own modular building business and love entertaining friends and clients, is the newly remodeled kitchen, though it wasn?t always beloved. "I hated this kitchen," Kathy said. "The walls and cabinets separated me from my guests." Knowing what she wanted, she redesigned it herself. To complement the kitchen?s stone-and-brick, rustic look, "It was important to not go all modern," Kathy noted. Muted colors on the cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops carry the new look and feel.
Another interesting space in this unique house is the formal dining room, with its mix of stone and reclaimed mahogany from the Belvedere Hotel?s famous Owl Bar, and the massive artsy light fixture custom-made from found pieces by the home?s previous owner.
At the lower level of the house is a game room and what "appears to have been a dungeon with huge doors and total blackness," Mike said. Now the room is a bright sports hall of fame, a tribute to the Ravens, Orioles and Terps. It is known as The Ravens Room. As a season-ticket holder, one-time captain of his football team at Cardinal Gibbons School and little league coach, Mike said, "It?s my favorite room in the house."
Dream home style
STYLE PHILOSOPHY: When redesigning a space, like the kitchen, choose materials that complement the architecture and blend with the existing character and personality of the house. We like to call the style of our house "rustic contemporary." It has high ceilings and lots of glass. The materials in the house are rustic, with lots of stone and wood.
STYLE SECRETS: Trust your judgment. When we were just planning the kitchen redesign, we went to designers but they didn?t listen to what we wanted. One came in and started criticizing everything he saw and gave us a price way more than our budget. So we had to go back to what we wanted, think about it and make our own plans. And it worked great.
GOT STYLE FROM: Living and socializing in the space and discovering what we liked and wanted and what was missing.
COMFORT VS. STYLE: The way we see it, style is what attracts you to a space and comfort is what keeps you there. Since we want to enjoy our time at home and we love to entertain family and friends, we wouldn?t want one without the other.
COLOR VS. TEXTURE: Both are important because they determine how you "feel" when you enter that room. We chose rustic colors and wall art that picked up the colors reflected by the stone walls and natural light in the room.
FAVORITE COLOR: Mike: green; Kathy: orange
WHAT DOES COLOR SAY TO YOU? Color says it?s time to relax or let?s have some fun. We entertain a lot and want our guests to have fun and know they can enjoy the space and be themselves.
MUST-HAVES IN YOUR HOUSE: Lots of natural light, storage and comfortable seating, It?s important to have conveniences like the small auxiliary fridge built under the kitchen counter where we can keep beverages chilled for easy access from the patio. That way, you?re not going in and out of the refrigerator. It?s also important for everyone to have one space that they can call their own.
For Mike, it?s his exercise room, and Kathy has a sitting area off the master bedroom.
MOST BELOVED OBJECT: Painting bought in Venice from an artist on the sidewalk. That?s in Kathy?s sitting room. "It is such a great piece of work and we paid so little for it," Mike said. Another piece is the one in the living room called "Peaceful Solution." "It?s a sculpture that looks like metal and wood but actually is painted Styrofoam."
WHAT PEOPLE WOULDN?T KNOW ABOUT US: There is a gold angel sitting in a built-in nook over our fireplace. It doesn?t match anything, it looks out of place. But it?s wedged in and stuck. When we tried to remove it, Mike lost his balance and knocked over a lamp, a chair, another picture, a vase and nearly toppled the Christmas tree. We have decided that a higher power wants her to stay there ? and so she is.
WE WOULD NEVER: again buy a sleeper sofa. They?re uncomfortable to sleep on and over time they are very uncomfortable to sit on because you keep sinking in your seat. The space savings you get for an extra place to sleep isn?t worth it.
FAVORITE DESIGNERS: Us. We work pretty well together and know what we like.
MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT US: The way we met ? driving down Ocean Highway in Ocean City. Who followed who is an ongoing discussion. "We danced and talked all night," Kathy says. "Later, says Mike, ?I told my parents that I met the woman I?m going to marry.? "
HOT TIP: 1) Just changing the lighting in a room can make you feel like you did a major renovation. 2) Use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads before you decide to paint a room because the walls have marks on them.
LIFE ADVICE: Always work to keep balance in your life. A successful life is when your family, friends, work and spirituality are all in balance.
WORDS TO GROW BY: Play like a champion.