This English-Inspired Home Strikes a Balance Between Welcoming and Formal
Designer Ray Booth refreshes an anglophilic Baltimore home for an all-American family.
English-Influenced Colonial Revival Home
English in its inception but heartily American in its outcome, Blake and Angie Cordish's Maryland home is both refined and gregarious: the Audrey Hepburn of Baltimore estates.
Built in the early 1900s, the Colonial Revival house sits amid rolling hills in a bucolic setting that brings to mind the stately homes of England's lush countryside. To restore what was perfect about the house while giving it an updated spin, Blake and Angie turned to acclaimed architectural and design firm McAlpine, their partner in work on previous residences.
"Angie and Blake were inspired by the great hotels of London," designer Ray Booth says. "The concept was of this being an English country house in influence yet more relaxed in its posture."
The extraordinary setting was a guiding force. From the front door, one's eyes are drawn immediately through the entry to French doors that frame the pastoral setting beyond. In fact, the commodious entry may have been a little too open. "It almost gave away too much too quickly," Booth says. "We added two-story sheers to frame the opening. It’s like a punctuation mark on a sentence. It slows you down, gives you a moment to stop, appreciate, and then move on."
There is much to appreciate here. Original architectural details were restored, providing a stage for an array of cultivated furniture pieces. A center table with a weighty, animated base and a stone top becomes a vivacious partner for a curvy wing chair and a tufted sofa. Scroll-back chairs and ottomans with dressmaker skirts offer perchable moments in a house that embraces entertaining.
Formal Living Room
Playing off the entry's genteel palette, Booth used dollops of caramel and plum in the living room, creating a light-filled space that is welcoming with a dash of formality. A streamlined sofa in cream-color linen pairs beautifully with architectural details that quietly let the furnishings shine yet are extroverted enough to avoid wallflower status. A slipper chair upholstered in a patterned velvet and an armchair with playful lines gambol with a tufted ottoman that invites guests to kick up their feet. "We chose furniture that was comfortable and referred back to something a bit more English," Booth says. "Rolled arms, tufting, pieces that were more traditional in form yet weren't wildly refined."
Intimate Dining Setting
The antithesis of the light, bright living room and entry, the dining room wears a moody caramel-infused palette, an intentional choice to encourage close conversation in candlelight. Separated into two distinct seating areas, the large space reconceives the traditional dining format, reinterpreting it for a family that entertains often.
On one side, an intimate setting lined with bookshelves offers a casual, club-like approach to dining, which is ideal for small groups and cocktail gatherings. Cozied up to a marble fireplace, a low table is surrounded by myriad seating options including a tufted mohair-clad chair and a coquettish skirted settee. A silk portiere and a smoky glass chandelier with crystal notes inject romance and femininity.
Traditional Dining Table
A more traditional dining table flanked by scroll-back chairs and a slipcovered banquette acts as host to large dinner parties and holiday get-togethers. Streamlined, the corner is sans chandelier, a thoughtful choice to eliminate unnecessary overhead distractions. Instead, Booth had wiring installed through the table legs to illuminate low-slung shaded votives. The result is an experience that hints at low-lit, whispered dinners at an exclusive club.
Polished and Practical Kitchen
In the kitchen, classic elements meld with an industrial aesthetic to shape a setting where the culinary can also be theatrical. Elegant touches such as a black-and-white checkerboard floor, a solid marble backsplash, and an Irish wake table balance a plenitude of stainless steel.
The command center of the house, the space is as family-centric as it is dramatic. A faux-leather-clad banquette defies spills. Handsome armchairs are slipcovered in outdoor fabric for practicality. A working pantry nestled behind the range means messes (and sippy cups) can be easily hidden from view. Polished and practical, it's the design gold standard.
Reflection of Outside
Equally pitch-perfect, the conservatory echoes the kitchen's sharply contrasted palette, beginning with a black-and-white mosaic tile floor. Structured and playful, a lacquered ceiling with an alternating diagonal pattern reflects the greenery outdoors, surreptitiously bringing the outdoors in. Dark lacquered mullions and muntins visually fall away, letting the rolling landscape draw the eye in a room intended to highlight outdoors rather than in.
"We like to paint windows dark," Booth says. "Our eyes are attracted to light, so using light colors can cage you in. We naturally look past a dark color to the light colors beyond."
Creamy Color Scheme
Yin to the conservatory's yang, the luminous master bedroom is enfolded in a pale palette of creamy white and lavender. A bookcase with fluted detail adds gravity and texture to a low-slung upholstered headboard. Two chaises pulled toe-to-toe become a graceful makeshift window seat punctuated with gingham pillows. A shapely glass-drop chandelier injects a contemporary yet still feminine note.
"We couldn't play by all the rules," Booth says. "This is a period home, but a modern family lives here. It needs life and exuberance."
Luxurious Master Bath
Known for using drapery as an emotional device, Booth wraps the master bath in luxurious texture. The custom multitier chandelier by Jaeger features silver-leaf agate panels by Ironies.
Romantic Outdoor Seating
Engaging the lush setting was of the utmost importance in the home's design. A classic palette, a charming porch swing, and a sofa and chairs from Michael Taylor Designs let the landscape do the heavy lifting. Draperies offer an air of romance.