After two years of dreaming, online scouring, and in person searching, we finally pulled the trigger and bought a second home that will be both a vacation/relaxation space, and another home for many more projects. For the long-winded explanation of our thought process in buying this second place, feel free to give our last post it a look. But if you’re here to get down to business and see house number one (of our top contenders), you’re in the right place.

This first house we’re going to take a look at from our home search is an 1882 Victorian waterfront farmhouse in Maryland.

The instant we saw this listing Wendy and I were very intrigued and a little smitten by the look of the home. Typically 19th century farmhouse style homes aren’t situated quite so close to the water, because owners 100 plus years ago didn't much care about "water views." But this house, sitting on several acres of land, has over 500 feet of waterfront visible from several rooms of the house.

The more we looked at the listing the more interested we became, so we contacted an agent (since Wendy isn't a licensed Realtor in Maryland) to show us the property and headed out on a day trip for a little weekend visit.

Upon our arrival, the long treelined driveway entry to the property had both of our jaws on the floor. There was just something that seemed special about it. The white picket fence, white farmhouse with black shutters in the distance, and beautiful approach that included a water view seemed to have everything going for it. It just seemed to speak to us.

As we walked up to tour the house, we glanced around the yard and could see the potential of the space. I envisioned a fire pit by the water surrounded by several chairs or maybe a horseshoe pit or bocce court cut into the expansive grass. It seemed like it would be a great place to have a quiet gathering with friends or a large outdoor party.

The entrance to the home through the side door brought us up onto the house’s porch and past a swing, which also had some great water views.

Once inside the house, we were suddenly transported back into the late 1970s and early 1980s. While the home still had many original details, such as period moulding and antique windows, much of the interior had been transformed with wall to wall carpet covering the remaining original floors...

…acoustic panels on the ceiling, and extensive use of tongue and groove knotty pine.

It was obvious to us that the couple who had purchased the home nearly four decades ago had put an extensive amount of effort into this home to lovingly make it their own, but it also left a very definite fingerprint on the property. Though the configuration of the home had been altered quite a bit, much of the original structure was still somewhat visible from room to room. But the big question remained, "If we buy this house, can we restore it to something period, or would we need to essentially make it more modern and open?"

The more we explored the more we realized the front portion of the house was actually added on at some point around 1980 as a large addition. This is the same area that houses the formal living room and master bedroom.

The small dining room has some of the nicest views from the house across the waterfront and pier, and a quaint but non-functional fireplace sits at the back of the room. The upper portion of the chimney was removed for a bathroom renovation.

Upstairs, the home’s three bedrooms are all moderately to generously sized and offer some excellent views of the yard’s gardens and waterfront.

And downstairs the owners added a curved glass atrium room with brick floor that allows you to sit outside under the stars and trees no matter the season.

As unexpected as several aspects of this house were, the biggest shocker came upon our entry to the kitchen.

YOWZA!!! That tile! Am I right?

Nothing could really prepare us for what we had just seen. The photos of the kitchen weren't available on the listing when we saw it, so it was quite a shock. It was like someone had frozen a kitchen in time from my childhood or transported one with a time machine.

Though we were very surprised by the kitchen’s décor, the layout was somewhat workable and we could see the potential of the house. We’d just need to change out a lot of the finishes, details, and décor to make it work for us.

The bathrooms are all updated, which means functional plumbing and good electrical, but they aren’t really our style, which means we’d need to swap some fixtures and replace some surfaces. 

Beyond the house, the property has several great outbuildings. From a large old pole barn…

…to a small building that could be converted to an adorable guest cottage.

There’s even a large metal garage/barn that could serve a pretty amazing role as my true and official wood shop and workshop, where we’d surely be able to do all of the building and constructing necessary to turn this house into something truly special. I’m not saying it would be easy, but since when is something major and worthwhile also something that’s easy?

If we wanted to head out for a quick kayak trip, a small dock is right there for us, and Lulu can use the same dock to take her beloved swims.

All in all, this house has a lot going for it. The large yard, great water frontage, classic farmhouse look and style, and the amazing outbuildings all sing to us as a special property that’s just in need of a little TLC.

However, that little bit of TLC is actually a whole lot of TLC. Pretty much every room needs to be thoroughly overhauled to fit what we want in a home, and a lot of the original characteristics and charm have been lost over the years and need to be returned.

Alex’s Take: The history of a late 19th century Maryland farmhouse is more than just intriguing, and the general look of the house is one of quintessential farmhouses. It has most of what we’re looking for in a house, and even has the long term potential of a guest suite outbuilding with some of the best views of the property. I can’t help but imagine all of those daydream scenarios that include many nights gathered around the fire with friends and family while making s'mores, but the work and effort we’ll need to put into the project is more than significant. However, given the house and what it is/what it could be, that effort may very well be worth it.

Wendy‘s Take: I love the look and style of this home, and the long treelined driveway sets the tone I'm looking for in a weekend retreat. The water views, amount of land, size of the home, outdoor space, and project potential are all really attractive to me. On the downside, the home's lack of central air conditioning, busy main road, and choppy floor plan are negatives that aren't easy or inexpensive fixes. I also have concerns about the amount of upkeep necessary for the large yard and gardens, but it could still work.

So what do you think? Can you see the potential and the property for how amazing it can be? Do you think this is the one and can you see us in this house? Or do you think it’s just too much work?

All Photo Credits to: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc.

Comments 22


10/16/2014 at 11:49 AM

Great place, just beautiful! My gut tells me it is too big and too much. Also, I would worry about flooding - it doesn't look like there would be enough elevation to stop that from happening when the next superstorm blows through. That said, I would love to see what you would do with this place!!!

10/16/2014 at 1:17 PM

You had me at everything... until the kitchen. That is a big chunk of work. I think I could see you guys getting around it, though. A good candidate for your second home. Can you handle MD though?

10/16/2014 at 2:22 PM

Holy cow! Amazing!!! I can totally see you guys in this house. I think it would be cool to see it less period and more modern (with some period details) so you really feel like you are on vacation from Old Town. Would love to see the floor plan because it's hard to tell the configuration from the pictures. Opening up the kitchen to the living areas would certainly make for great entertaining and party flow and an opportunity for some more modern details which might be fun to "test out" in your vacation home. We're contemplating a condo in Florida perhaps for eventual retirement but for an investment/rental in the short term. I am seriously considering some departures from my "home style" for that space!

Franki Parde
10/16/2014 at 2:59 PM

The "setting, etc." is "drop dead gorgeous!" Trust me....there is a LOT of WORK here and a "vacation home" it isn', if you're contemplating "retiring" would be a "labour of love." Our vacation "get away" turned into our "retirement residence" took THIRTY YEARS to get my new kitchen. THINK HARD ON THIS ONE!! franki

10/16/2014 at 4:06 PM

I have to admit - a swear word came to mind when I saw that kitchen - it's completely crazy and dark despite the two windows.
Th waterfront location seems ideal, but all those outbuildings and the land seem like a lot of work for a vacation home. I'd hate to have to worry about maintaining it all when I visited instead of simply relaxing on the dock

10/16/2014 at 6:57 PM

Just say no!!! Too big....just so not you guys. I hope houses 2 and 3 hold more promise.

Jan Hunyady
10/16/2014 at 8:18 PM

It would take your entire weekend just to mow and weed wack.

Full time residence....yes.....weekend

10/16/2014 at 9:47 PM

My feeling like the others, it's much too big, and requires SO MUCH to undo - and it's much too fussy decor wise (which on its own can be easily fixed for the most part).

However, that land and all the outbuildings etc, plus the size of the house would be much too much if it's just going to be a vacation home.

It will be interesting to see your posts on the next two homes and what you ultimately decide on.

10/17/2014 at 8:26 AM

The land is amazing! Also I would kill for a dedicated building for a shop, working in a basement with 7ft ceilings is definitely a challenge. Personally I feel it's too much house and yard to maintain, especially if its a weekend house. Would be a great primary residence if one's commute wasn't too bad and they didn't mind a more rural setting. I'm 95% sure this isn't the house you bought for the reasons stated above.

That kitchen is so bad it circles all the way back to awesome.

10/17/2014 at 8:49 AM

I agree that it looks way too big for a weekend house. Unless you plan to hire a groundskeeper, you're going to spend all weekend in the yard - not exactly relaxing IMHO.

And the kitchen will take a TON of work.

10/17/2014 at 9:28 AM

Wow you guys, what a beautiful house! But I would agree that it seems like a lot to take on. Are you the types to get totally energized with all those projects, or would it just stress you out over the week when you're not there? Also, is there a local government office where you can check the flood history of that property? My mother used to have a home on the bay in Fenwick Island, Del., and was forever fixing leaks and dealing with storms and floods. Along with repairs and maintenance, it was a huge money pit. I just hope that you don't get burned out like Young House Love did!!

10/17/2014 at 11:01 AM

Wow! That's a huge house! But I'm holding out for house 2&3, I'm not sold yetAlt smile

10/17/2014 at 11:18 AM

What a dream! Once you guys fix up your new place, do you plan to rent it out for vacationers? or for events?

10/17/2014 at 11:41 AM

I agree with Jan. This is not a weekend project and will be a full reno zone. It is a big bite to take. I would plan on twelve years and about $200,000 to rehab. And those are Texas prices. You need to decide where you want to be because if you are at the townhouse relaxing you will be thinking you should be at the country house working. (Let's face it. You would rather work because it isn't really work.)

BTW, the house wasn't situated on the water for the view, as you guessed. It was situated on the water for transporation.

10/17/2014 at 6:17 PM

If this was your full time residence it would so be worth the work, if the price was right. I am going to say this is not your house.

Little Red
10/18/2014 at 12:21 AM

This is a lot of house and seems rather too much work for a weekend retreat.

That kitchen tile should have been kept to the backsplash and not used on the countertop.

I'm curious to see #2 and #3 now.

10/18/2014 at 11:46 AM

Not a bad looking place, but I think it's a little too remuddled to be a good restoration candidate. This reminds us of a house we looked at about 6 years ago. It started life in the 1850s as a Gothic Victorian farmhouse and had several additions done at various points throughout the 20th Century. All of this would have been workable, but the whole place had fallen victim to a circa 1983 remodeling that completely re-configured floor plan and robbed the house of nearly all of its character.

Also, speaking from experience, try to stay out of Maryland. They will tax you to death, especially since the property is waterfront and will not be your primary residence. This state is bleeding us dry. That's why we haven't had any updates of work we have done for a while!

10/19/2014 at 9:43 AM

I'd buy it just for that kitchen tile. ;)

10/20/2014 at 4:03 PM

Wow! This place is amazing, and I'm sure it will only get better under your care. Good luck with your new endeavor. I look forward to following along and living this dream vicariously through you.

10/20/2014 at 8:48 PM

The place is beautiful, BUT it's a 30 year project and probably a money pit. If you are thinking about retiring to the weekend place rethink this place, because it will be a huge place to maintain. As you get older you want less maintenance, housekeeping and taxes.

10/28/2014 at 3:25 PM

Now that is a beautiful farmhouse, but with a TON of updates needed on the inside!

Much like many other farmhouses of that age.

10/29/2014 at 9:52 AM

I think this one could be perfect - the setting is stunning - if you decided that you were okay with not restoring but rather just having a comfortable home.

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