The new "sofa room" is a favorite entertaining spot that offers incredible views.
A Howard County home is transformedâ€”and opens up to the stunning surrounding landscape.
The master bedroom includes a private terrace and a custom beverage center.
The expanded kitchen offers professional amenities for catering.
The redesign took advantage of natural light and great views.
Homeowner Jim Waller.
Jim Waller liked his 4,178-square-foot home on an acre bordering the Cattail Creek Country Club in western Howard County well enough—but he didn’t love it. The rising private wealth manager and corporate tax advisor was spending thousands of dollars on rent for outside spaces to entertain his clients, something he could not do at home. The University of Maryland graduate was ready to move up, but not by moving out. Then he started talking with his neighbor Elizabeth Della Ratta about refurnishing the place. Della Ratta is a marketing director at her family’s firm, Della Ratta Inc., a Silver Spring–based real estate development and management company, and she also does interior design. Soon, she was not only helping the homeowner select furniture but—along with Chris Masters, her partner in a new venture, Elizabeth Christopher—effectively overseeing the entire project to make over Waller’s Glenwood, Maryland, home.
His home saga began as he was living in Ellicott City, the Howard County seat, and thinking about leaving Deloitte & Touche. Driving on Route 97, he was struck by the “absolutely beautiful landscape” of farms and rolling hills. Though he then had “a more modest appetite and ability” to purchase, he reserved one of six lots on the golf course. The original four-bath, two-story house was completed in 1996, and Waller paid $442,675 for the developed property in February 1997.
A senior manager at Deloitte & Touche for 10 years, Waller started his own firm in 1998 with partner Mark Biegel, each investing $100. Now, Biegel & Waller, LLC, has 25 employees, offices in Columbia, Maryland, and Tysons Corner, and manages $650 million in assets for corporate owners and high net-worth people, while also providing tax services for private and publicly traded middle-market companies, principally in the Middle Atlantic.
Waller, 48, has personally invested more than $1 million to make his three-level home more to his liking. “That house had good bones; at the time the quality was great,” Waller says. “But it needed a face-lift. It didn’t take advantage of the topography and the view I had. I wanted to open it up. I wanted to create a comfortable setting to entertain my clients and friends, and also really capture the beauty that I have from that house; the views are unbelievable.”
Enter Della Ratta and Masters, and general contractor and builder John Cochran. “They were able to help me figure out what to do based on what I was trying to create,” Waller says. Work began last October and was completed in early April. “It started with furnishings,” says Della Ratta. “The next [thing] you know, the scope had changed. He said, ‘I really think I want to redo the house.’” Masters—by day a project manager and marketing director for McWilliams Ballard, an Alexandria firm that specializes in marketing and selling multifamily properties—and Della Ratta took over.
They brought in architects and a general contractor and were there daily to ensure that preparations went smoothly. They carefully chose the furniture and the abstract artwork that adorns the walls. The living room they designed features a 70-inch flat-screen TV above the gas fireplace. Forty-five halogen bulbs inside four-inch glass spheres hang down on wires.
Behind the space is an enlarged open kitchen, with two wall ovens in addition to a 48-inch Wolf dual fuel range and an island topped with two slabs of Statuarietto marble. “The biggest thing we wanted was great flow,” says Della Ratta, noting that the kitchen is “very open” and offers “plenty of space for prep staff to work.”
The master bedroom flows into the master bath and closet—the latter having formerly served as Waller’s bedroom. “The master bedroom is really phenomenal,” says Masters. “It has its own private terrace that wraps around the back of the house, as well as a custom built-in that has a beverage center, wine fridge, and 65-inch LCD TV.” The finished basement includes a card room, four-person sauna, and a 700-bottle wine cellar.
Though the build-out added only 200 square feet to the house, it radically changed its interior perspective, particularly in the “sofa room” defined by a 13-feet-long U-shaped brown leather sectional facing a view of the golf course. “It’s a great place to just talk and have a glass of wine,” Waller says. “At different times of day, the way the sun moves and clouds roll, the view is constantly changing. It’s a nice, comfortable environment to sit down in.”
photography by Morgan Howarth
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