May-June 2011 | BELL OF A HOME

BELL OF A HOME
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RIGHT AT HOME

BELL OF A HOME

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

When the property on Rum Pointe Rd. became available, Terry Bell couldn’t have been more thrilled – for both personal and professional reasons. First, the house was idyllically perched right on Sinepuxent Bay, which Bell and her mother, Betsy Barrett Ludlam, used to gaze at dreamily when the former was a young girl growing up on the Eastern Shore. Second, as a 30-year veteran of home décor, Bell simply marveled at the peerless work of local builder Robert Clarke, of Robert’s Coastal Construction, who she felt put together a 5,200 sq. ft. masterpiece.

“I’d initially seen the house when I was hired to stage it for sale by Dave Dypsky, who was the Realtor selling it for Robert Clarke,” Bell recalled, “and I just fell in love with it immediately. I remember thinking that he had really gotten it right, down to the last detail.”

Those details may be found in any of the 10 rooms and 6.5 baths that compose the home, which Bell shares with her husband, Dr. Jonathan Bell of Atlantic General Hospital, and children Brian, Patrick, Alex, Sarah, Gabe, and of course, their utterly charming pooches Ziggy and Maggie.

Despite the grandeur of features that include 18-foot ceilings, a Doric-columned entranceway and hand-planed teak-wood flooring (which covers the entire first level and master suite), the house is surprisingly unpretentious – i.e., it actually looks like a place where a family of seven (nine if you include nonhumans) live. Parts of that feel owe to personality touches that Bell has sprinkled strategically throughout the house, like a series of guitars, both acoustic and electric, by such esteemed manufacturers as Taylor, Guild and Fender, to symbolize the clan’s musicianship and overall creativity, something Bell is obviously proud of.

“This is definitely a family of right-brained people,” said Bell, whose son Alex was test driving his brand-new studio-production software program in the third-floor music room as the tour was going on. “Each of my kids is either a writer, musician or painter; we just hope that someday they can apply these talents to a career they love.”

They come by it honestly. Bell is the principal buyer for Casual Designs, which is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding by her father, Dick Ludlam, who is also the company’s president. As one might expect, Bell – who works out of the Berlin location, where she is surrounded by her creative design team – has drawn overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, from the product lines and stock available at Casual Designs’ Berlin and Selbyville locations. Over the years, Bell and Casual Designs have handled the décor chores for some of the area’s most beautiful homes and ambitious residential-development projects, including the Parke in Ocean Pines, Glen Riddle in Berlin and the complete renovation of Janice and Harold Wainwright’s home in Ocean City in anticipation of AGH’s 16th anniversary celebration, for which the local philanthropists played host. In total, the project took almost a year, and the Wainwrights just can’t stop praising Bell and the top-quality work her company does. Not too shocking, however, considering the Maryland-D.C. Home Furnishing Association named Casual Designs “Retailer of the Year” and Home Accents Today magazine in May placed them among the top-50 accessory retailers in the U.S.  

That savvy is certainly evident in the Bells’ main family room, which is immediately off the foyer to the right. Open, airy and drenched in lots of ambient light, the space remained cheerful even on the overcast day during which the tour was conducted. The fireplace on the south wall boasts a sprawling surround that features a beachy clapboard overhead, an effective concept and execution by Robert Clarke. The mantle is framed by brushed-nickel wall sconces with silk-string lampshades, elegantly opposed by the mahogany sideboard from the Paula Deen collection. The sofas are from the custom line of Harden Furniture, which is lauded for its trend-setting reforestation mandate. They overlook the room’s centerpiece: a round, tufted-leather ottoman/cocktail table by Flexsteel. East of the main family room is the sunroom, which offers a sectional by Braxton Culler ensconced in a 100-percent acrylic slipcover in white that assures the Bells won’t have to toil due to soil. The outdoorsy theme is continued on the back porch, which includes a Summer Classics chaise lounge, table and chairs with a wicker sofa by Cape May. The manicured property is all overlooked by Escobar landscaping based in Selbyville.

The kitchen features honed-granite countertops with a marble-top center island. Appliances are by Jenn-Air and Viking from Shore Appliance Connection. Marble subway-tile backsplashes and a Charleston Forge cherry plank-top table with hand-forged iron chairs and natural rush seats complete the room’s look.

If you think the food’s staging area is special, get ready for the place where it’s served. The dining room’s focal point is a Harden inlaid cherry wood table with accent perimeter in cherry with a different stain under an exquisite coffered ceiling with faux-bamboo inset panels that serve as anchor for the Uttermost chandelier with crystal accents. The complementary sideboard is from the Harden European Interpretations collection and is the platform for two wrought-iron lamps with a pineapple motif.

As you head to the second level via the curved staircase with ascending niche insets, you begin to appreciate the home’s true size. Large bedrooms dwell throughout, culminating with a grand master suite that houses a four-poster Harden bed and includes a raised sitting room with a nail-head-trim accent chair and sofa with natural-linen upholstery by Southern Furniture around a Harden bi-level coffee table in distressed cherry wood with cast-iron legs. A gas fireplace, sink and refrigerator encourage the feeling of being away on vacation in your own home but not nearly so much as the master-suite deck that overlooks both the bay and the ocean. That exquisite view is perfectly framed by Hunter Douglas Vignette window treatments, courtesy of Ocean Pines’ Interior Savvy, Inc. and Pat Corney. Bell reports that the moonrises alone make it well worth the price of admission and that her Philly-native husband increasingly marvels at the singular beauty of the Eastern Shore with each passing day.

Ultimately, the house is practically a work of art in itself.

Between the aesthetics and craftsmanship that Robert Clarke put into every square foot – down to the tumbled stone and custom tile work that each bathroom boasts as its own unique signature – and Bell’s impeccable placement of décor and original artwork by the likes of local painting icons Kevin Fitzgerald, Patrick Henry, Peggy Warfield and Susan Ludlam Russell, (Bell’s sister), the Bells residence is quite literally a bellwether of good taste and design.



Casual Designs Furniture, 410-629-1717 / 302-436-8224
www.CasualDesignsFurniture.com

 


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