John and Lorna “B” Leone have barely unpacked in their new home on Kent Island, but they were excited about showing their redone residence in Home of the Week. The couple moved in the first week of spring after an extensive reconstruction and renovation effort.
The Leones had lived in the Cove Creek area of Kent Island since 1997. The house they moved into this spring is a Chesapeake Bay front property in Stevensville with an untrammeled view of the Bay Bridge. The house had originally been built in 1971 for John’s parents, Vincent and Antoinette Leone, to use as a weekend getaway in their golden years.
His father Vincent Leone, had owned Leone’s Bar & Restaurant in Baltimore with his brother Dominick, and with Dominick and another brother Tony, they sponsored the Leone’s Amateur Baseball team, which boasted a roster that included future major league superstars Reggie Jackson and Al Kaline. Until 2010, the senior Leones had lived in an Anne Arundel County residence that had been in the family for 85 years. That year, John’ parents moved into the house on the bay fulltime.
The “new” house in Stevensville was only four miles distant from where John and “B” lived. John’s father passed away four years ago, and his mother, Antoinette Leone, died a year later.
B retired four years ago. She had taught in Anne Arundel County public schools and was the regional assistant superintendant under Kevin Maxwell and the current Superintendant George Arlotto. After many years as a manager of a division of the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency, John retired in 2014. The couple has three grown sons, two of whom live locally, and three grandchildren. Another grandchild is due in August.
Sharing their new home is Maggie, a 14-year old Chocolate lab.
“When we re-habbed the house, we wanted it to be warm and welcoming, and where we could age in place,” John said. “Then as now, it has always been a one-story home. When we did the renovation, the entry ways were widened to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.”
B nodded in agreement.
“We wanted lots of room and an open atmosphere. We looked around and knew what we wanted,” she said. “We have a lot of art and wanted to display it. Entertaining is important to us, too.”
John had quite a few ideas he shared with the architect who redesigned the house, the Stevensville-based Ray Strang and Associates. As part of the project, the roof was raised and the kitchen was flipped from one side of the house to the other.
The master bathroom had previously been a bedroom.
The waterfront side of the three-bedroom house was bumped out 14 feet and a screened-in porch was enclosed and is now the dining room area. Outside, a wide deck now runs the width of the house. The new kitchen was outfitted with white wooden cabinetry with room for display space above the units, polished granite topping the counters and long, wide island and a deep sink. Ideal space for a party.
“We had a lot of sleepless nights choosing colors,” John said. “Most of the walls are Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. We changed the blue color in our bedroom three times. The color is ‘Zen’.”
Strolling up the driveway and, then, the path to the house, a visitor will pass a live female duck nestled among the Knockout roses. If Lady Duck gives the OK, you are approved to continue on the path.
Near the door is stone inscribed with the words: “Teachers Plant Seeds That Grow Forever.”
Once inside the door, the natural inclination is to look up at the high vaulted ceilings. Instead, the eye is drawn to one of the couple’s many artworks. This one is a large, handsome inlay in the foyer floor in the shape of a compass rose, created by Rose Farms Inlays of Woodstock, Illinois.
Gazing around the open, spacious room that encompasses the living room, dining area and kitchen, the catches on the art on the walls, hanging from the ceiling or displayed on pedestals including artworks by Nancy Hammond and Sharon Littig.
One artwork, known as Zen Fish or Guitar Fish, is a sculpture of a large golden fish adorned with the outline of a guitar, bicycle chains, strands of pearls, coiled springs, a model of the Baltimore City Hall and a family photo from the 1920s. The fish’s snout appears to be a mannequin’s face, with unusual eyes: a pair of official cufflinks Martin O’Malley wore when he was Mayor of Baltimore. The Leones’ acquired the unique artwork when it was auctioned off after Charm City’s “fish art” period ended.
A pale golden, filigreed metal and crystal chandelier is a work by artisan Mauriel Lobo, part of the Varaluz Lighting team in the Philippines. The company specializes in using hand-crafted, recycled materials in crafting its lighting and décor. Three smaller versions are suspended over the island between the kitchen and the living room area.
“When we travel, we take golf courses,” B said. Afterward, the couple always explores the local art scene looking for a new addition to the house.
And, when not traveling, they golf locally at the nearby Blue Heron Golf Course at least once a week.
She strolled through the house, pointing out its features. When the couple moved, she said, most of their furniture fit into the new spacious space. The blue leather couch was from the former home, the white sofa was a recent addition, found at Island Furniture. The outdoor furniture sets are from Sam’s Club.
Best of all is the view. It’s an original, living, mesmerizing work of art. Ships of all sizes and origins sail past. When fireworks are fired on Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, the Leones can view several shows simultaneously.
When they want to crab, fish or launch a dingy, their long wooden pier is a few steps away.
“We tore the roof off the house and rearranged the walls to make it a warm place for our family and friends,” said “B.”
“Our grandchildren love running around in circles in the main room â and outside.”
What’s it take to be a featured Home of the Week?
Have you ever wondered if your residence could be a Home of the Week? We are always seeking homes to profile, whether it is a house, town home, condo, apartment, cottage or cabin cruiser. Contact Wendi Winters for details atãwwinters@capgaznews.com.