Natural stone ties the old with the new

August 17, 2001
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For a private residence nestled on 150 acres in Cooksville, MD, the owners wanted to remodel and expand the home while sustaining the look and feel of an olden farmhouse. To achieve this effect, several "warm" shades of natural stone were used to blend the new construction with the existing d¿r.

"We purchased the farm because we fell in love with the property, which contains both rolling fields and secluded woods," said owner Linda Congedo, who resides in the home with her husband, John, and three children. "The existing house was a well-built, two-story rectangle constructed in 1960, which had never been remodeled. Our goals were to update the house while maintaining a farmhouse feel, and to create a highly functional new kitchen/family room living space where our family and friends could gather, relax and enjoy beautiful views and access to the outdoors."

The renovation included building an addition at the back of the house, according to architect Kevin McKenna of Kevin McKenna Architects in Columbia, MD. "My outlook for the project was driven by the layout of the existing home," he said. "Having been built in the 60s, it was very traditional in its layout. The living room, dining room and kitchen were all separate rooms with no communication between them, and there was no separate family room. Especially with a family and two working parents, the existing spaces didn't work for today's lifestyles."

The design for the addition added a new kitchen and a new family room behind the older house and connected them through what used to be the original kitchen. The large, sunny kitchen includes eating space and open view to the sunken family room beyond it and the garden/courtyard outside.

In addition, the home was also expanded to include a new master suite. When the time came to select the stone, the Congedos had an assortment of materials to choose from since they work in the stone business. In fact, their company, Marble Source Unlimited Inc. in Annapolis Junction, MD, was responsible for all the fabrication and installation of the stonework.

"I considered a lot of stones," said Linda Congedo. "And of course being in the business, you see so many stones. It's easier for me to help choose for someone else, but a little more difficult for me because I like so many different ones. It's hard when you are exposed to a lot of different things. It took me a couple of weeks just to finalize and mill through everything to find what I wanted. I really wanted the house to flow together."

For the kitchen area, the owners opted for a Brazilian granite, Santa Cecilia. Approximately three or four slabs of the golden-colored material were employed for countertops in the kitchen as well as the butler's pantry. "The whole theme in the house is more beiges and warmer tones," said Congedo. "That helped to narrow it down. As far as the Santa Cecilia, I really liked it because of the golden tones, and it has beautiful ruby garnet-like flecks in it."

Complementing the granite countertops, which all have ogee edges, is a backsplash made of hand-made ceramic tiles. The 4- x 4-inch field tiles are textured whitewashed beige and accented by reliefs of woodland animals, birds and plants. This further ties in the indoor/outdoor theme that the homeowners were trying to achieve with the use of naturally hued colors. "We wanted to use stones that would be amenable to a farm house," said Congedo.

Moving upstairs, the new master bath also incorporated natural stone into its design. "I wanted something that was going to be sort of a neutral tone and warm," said Congedo, explaining that she chose Breccia Oniciata marble for the room. "There's an overall peachy tone to the house, and [the marble] has that soft peach feel to it as well as the taupe [color]. I always loved this stone because of its translucence and depth."

In total, the sink area of the master bath measures approximately 7 x 5 feet, and the vanity and tub area is 12 x 12 1/2 feet. While slabs of Breccia Oniciata were employed for the walls, vanities and tub surround, the floor was comprised of 12- x 12-inch tiles. Ogee edges are prevalent on the tub and all of the vanity tops.

According to the architect, the couple requested "his" and "hers" vanities, which he designed and separated with a pocket door. "It was an important ingredient," said McKenna. "We even built in a small area with a vanity and make-up area."

When determining the position of the tub, the bathroom window was taken into consideration. "There is a beautiful view to the north along a farm field," said the architect. "We wanted to take advantage of that." As a result, the bathtub was centered in the middle of that view, he said.

In addition to the new kitchen and master bath, the renovation also included two stone fireplaces - one in the family room and another in the master bedroom. While both are made from a local fieldstone, the stone employed for the hearth and surround differs in each room. In the family room, the fieldstone is complemented by Jerusalem Gold limestone to match the golden tones of the kitchen countertops. "The two marry so well together," said Congedo. "[The Jerusalem Gold] pulls in from the kitchen." For the bedroom, the fireplace hearth and surround is made from a French limestone. Both hearths and surrounds feature intricate details and were designed by John Congedo and hand-carved by artisans in his shop.

The majority of the construction on the 1,500-square-foot addition was completed by January of this year, with the stonework taking approximately one and a half months to install. "I think the main challenge in doing this whole house was to make it not look like a brand new renovation and keep a farmhouse look," said Congedo.

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