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LOCATION - Royal Oak, Maryland

HOMEOWNER - Yvonne and Fred Endy

BUILT - 1999 – 2001

ARCHITECT - Linda Spring - (410) 822-1525

BUILDER - Peter Hanlon - (410) 819-3334

PROPERTY - 12 acres

INTERIOR - More than 5,000 square feet in the main house, garage apartment, and guest cottage

BEDROOMS - Four in the main house, one in the garage apartment, two in the guest cottage

HER FAVORITE AT-HOME PASTIME - "I love changing things around the house."

HIS FAVORITE AT-HOME PASTIME - Fishing, crabbing, boating, gardening in the greenhouse

HOUSE-BUILDING TIP - Find an architect who listens to you and designs what you want rather than what they want

Indoor Gardens

A Good Night's Sleep

Royal Oak, Maryland — Ask Fred and Yvonne Endy how they happened to name their home "Bitmore Cottage," and they'll laugh and tell you, "Because we built a bit more than what we expected."

For more than two decades, they'd lived on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in a twenty-acre farmhouse built in 1760. Then, in the 1990s, they began scouring the eastern shore for a weekend and summer getaway. A charming, old-fashioned cottage on the water was what they had in mind.

But houses were scarce. Local legislation protecting Chesapeake Bay limited housing to five homes per hundred acres. And what houses there were rarely changed hands. Rich in beauty and steeped in history — it is here that the first British settlements of Easton and St. Michaels and Oxford are located — the eastern shore was and is a highly desirable place to live.

"With water lapping up against the shore, glorious sunsets, and cooling breezes, it's very peaceful here," says Fred Endy of his waterfront home. Shop Outdoor Living.

"When we couldn't find any older homes," says Fred, "We said, 'Let's look for a lot.' That was just five years ago, and there wasn't much property left for sale." To their delight, Fred and Yvonne found twelve acres with nine hundred feet of shoreline along the Choptank River where it converges with Chesapeake Bay.


It was the perfect site to build the little European cottage they envisioned. "The house was my wife's idea," says Fred. "She's a creative genius, very artistic and clever. She has that touch for home design. She looks at magazines, then adds her own input and ideas. She knew exactly what she wanted, and the look she wanted: a new home that looked old and lived in."

"We always wanted a cottage," Yvonne explains. "A smaller house, cozy and unpretentious. We have so many friends and family, we wanted them to feel comfortable coming here."

Another of Yvonne's concerns was quality. "It's all about details. I'd rather have half of a big mansion and have quality work throughout. Small but well built. We wanted the best craftsmen we could find. Woodwork was especially important to me."

Acting on a tip from their real estate agent, they selected architect Linda Spring to translate Yvonne's ideas into reality. "We interviewed three or four others," says Fred, "but they wanted to design what they liked rather than what we wanted." It was the first house Spring had done with her own firm. "Yvonne and the architect connected immediately. They blended their ideas, and then we gave the architect carte blanche. Four weeks later, she came up with a plan. She got it right off the bat."


At Yvonne and Fred's request, Spring also came up with ideas for possible future expansion: an apartment over the garage, a guest cottage, a swimming pool and tennis court — ideas that could be implemented on down the road without altering the main house. Her rough sketches were accompanied by simple explanations: "If you wanted to add a swimming pool, here's where you could put it."

As building got underway, Yvonne and Fred had an unexpected change of heart. "Our original intention was to build a weekend getaway, a summer place with three bedrooms," Fred explains. "And then the land was cleared, and the view opened up, and the sunsets. Nothing but water for twenty miles out. It called to us. We decided to make this our full-time, year-round residence."

And so, six months into construction, they implemented the expansion projects originally intended for the future. "We were very fortunate that the architect had the foresight to point out the possibilities to us. Once we started building and got a feel for the property, we decided we really liked the area and wanted to move here permanently. It's a very bucolic setting. The water is a hundred feet away, and the land is flat as a pancake so you can see the view — there are no hills on the eastern shore."

Building long distance was something of a challenge. "Construction took eighteen months," says Fred, "and we lived approximately a hundred miles away. I'd have preferred to have been closer to stay on top of things, but as it was, it was impractical to come here every day. We'd try to come twice a month for the day. Everything took a little longer than what we had anticipated, but that was to be expected." He chuckles as he adds, "We had a lot of change orders as we went from a bit more to a lot more."

"I wanted to create sunshine and happy colors," Yvonne says of the kitchen. Cabinets are painted a cheerful sunflower yellow, and Delft tiles provide a crisp, clean blue-and-white accent. Shop Kitchen & Entertaining.


Once construction was completed, Yvonne took on the task of decorating their home herself. "My wife could be a decorator," Fred says.

The two of them like their houses old, or at least old-looking. "Our other home was 250 years old," she says. "We wanted antique floors throughout our new house, too." Stripped-down hard pine recovered from old barns created just the right effect. "Floors to me are always important. They give the whole house character. You look at it every day, you walk on it every day. That's where you don't want to cut costs."

Their architect steered them to artisans who helped add even more character to the house. The door to the mud room was crafted by a woodworker in Maine, and an artist friend in a nearby town painted the murals.

In lieu of a formal living room and dining room, the Endys opted for a great room where living and dining areas and kitchen all flow together. "It's just one big area," Yvonne explains. "We're not formal people. We had a very formal home, and it's just not us anymore. We wanted this house to be easy and comfy. Now everybody can just hang where they want to hang. You can come here and put up your feet."

Granite countertops encourage the same carefree attitude. "Since we have a lot of people in the kitchen, we don't have to worry about anybody scratching the counters or putting down anything hot."

"It's all about details. I'd rather have half of a big mansion and have quality work throughout."

Thumbing through magazines honed Yvonne's decison-making skills. "I learn what I like by looking at magazines — a little of this, a little of that." That's how she got the idea for their kitchen. "I saw a great kitchen created by an architect in California, but it cost $400,000. So I gave the picture to a local kitchen-design firm, and they designed it for a fraction of the price."

Cabinets are painted a cheerful sunflower yellow, and Delft tiles provide a crisp, clean blue-and-white accent. "I wanted to create sunshine and happy colors," says Yvonne. "The colors in our old house were dreary. Here, we have a lot of yellow and blue and rose and green — beachy colors. When you're living by the water you can create something different. In my old age I want young, happy colors — not beige and browns."

Yvonne and Fred travel the world, occasionally picking up things for the house. Take the bench in the entryway, for example. When Yvonne first saw it in an old farmhouse in Switzerland, she immediately made the owners an offer. They accepted, and she had the bench shipped home. "I love benches," she says. "This one has the original paint. I bought it especially for this wall. It has a built-in storage bin, and people can leave things there." She picked up the mirror above the bench in an antique shop, then asked a friend to paint the swans already carved into the frame.

Yvonne took charge of the home's exterior, too. Cedar shingles and custom-built window boxes replicate the look of European cottages she admires, as does the white picket fence bordering the garden and the archway blanketed in roses. The garden was designed by landscape architect Lisa Hazen. "I told her what I wanted, and she did exactly what I had in mind," says Yvonne.

An old-fashioned greenhouse from England gives Fred and Yvonne the opportunity to garden year-round. The couple is also partial to the porch just off the Great Room where summer breezes are so soothing and cooling. "We call it our summer living room," says Yvonne.

Yvonne enjoys nothing better than working around the house. She especially enjoys changing things around and using her sewing skills to make improvements. "Home is definitely my priority," she says. "My home is my castle." And when she runs out of projects? "I love to grab a book and have some quiet time. I read in the loveseat on the porch. We call it our summer living room."

"Everyone enjoys coming here because they have their own quarters and bathroom ... People enjoy coming — that's the biggest compliment."

Hospitality is another specialty. "I do enjoy people," says Yvonne. "We built this house to have company. We built it not just for my husband and me, but for everybody else." Between the four-bedroom main house and two-bedroom guest cottage, plus the 600-square-foot garage apartment, they have enough space to accommodate five couples comfortably. Their daughter and grandsons often bring friends for the weekend, and Fred's sisters refer to the Endy's home as "the spa."

"Everyone enjoys coming here because they have their own quarters and bathroom, so they're not tripping over each other. We're booked all summer, like a hotel. That's much better than having all the rooms empty and nobody visiting. People enjoy coming — that's the biggest compliment."

A fully equipped outdoor kitchen simplifies cooking for a crowd. "Our architect gave us the idea to get our grill island, icemaker, refrigerator — the whole set-up — from Frontgate," says Fred. "What attracted us was the quality of the merchandise." Yvonne adds, "And when we have a lot of people coming to visit, everybody brings something, and everybody chips in."


Visitors have plenty of recreational opportunities, too. "We got the sailboat, speed boat, and jet skis especially for our grandsons," says Fred. "This is their home away from home. When we were building, they'd ask, 'How's our home coming along?'" He had a 150-foot pier with boat lift built to raise and lower the craft since the water can get too rough to leave them tied up at the pier and since boat houses are prohibited.

Fred has taken up fishing and crabbing since moving here. "The area is famous for rockfish — also known as striped bass — and blue-claw crabs, and all of them in abundance. I catch them right off the pier. I put crab traps in the water, and I fish off the dock. It's so accessible."

He says he loves the warmth and charm of living in a new home that feels old. "We wanted a residence that lent itself to the water. It's so much lighter and airier and open. The windows incorporate views of the water, which is so soothing and peaceful." Yvonne enjoys sitting in bed and taking in the view, particularly in winter when the fireplace is going.

They're both partial to the porch just off the great room where summer breezes are so soothing and cooling. There, they can sit and read or watch ships going in and out of the bay to the port of Baltimore. "The view is absolutely glorious when all the sailboats are out," says Fred. "We're just sitting amidst nature, listening to the water lapping up against the shoreline. When the weather is beautiful, it's paradise."

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