It took some real outside the box thinking for Randi and Darrell Braman to recognize—and renovate—their dream home. "When we first looked at the house, it was Super Bowl weekend, and everything was frozen over," recalls Darrell, an attorney for T. Rowe Price. "You needed imagination to see that this place had potential."
Though the Owings Mills home had some interesting interior features—a beautiful kitchen with original stainless steel Thermador ovens, exposed post-and-beam cedar ceilings, and an unusual tepee-shaped playroom—it clearly needed work.
"From the outside, it looked like an army barracks," cracks Randi, a family physician for Eldersburg-based B.W. Primary Care.
But what sold them on the house was its property: three-and-a-half acres rife with fruit trees and ample areas for playing soccer and baseball, perfect for daughter Maddie (now 13) and son Sam (now 9).
Once the Bramans decided to move forward, the next step was selling their old home in Mt. Washington. As luck would have it, a potential buyer—prominent area architect Vince Greene—gave them an intriguing offer: If they would agree to slightly lower their price, he would give them free architectural services for their new home.
"It really worked out," says Randi, "because we would probably not have hired an architect to do what he did."
In April 2006, the Bramans met with Greene and gave him a wish list of changes they wanted to make, including adding a guest bedroom, a powder room, and a garage.
Greene was more than game—and even came up with a radical building plan. "When we sat down with him, he said, ‘I know your mouths are going to drop open when you hear this, but I have an idea: We can cut the house in half,’" Randi says.
You see, in order to store all of the mechanical equipment that the house needed for the upgrades, it would need a basement, which it didn’t have. And in order to build a basement, they would have to, yes, cut the house magician-style, right down the middle.
The Bramans gave the go-ahead, but, on the first day of demolition, as a bulldozer plowed through the property, they had cold feet. "I was here in the morning," says Darrell, "and then I had to leave because I couldn’t take it."
For her part, Randi told the construction crew, half jokingly, "‘I think I changed my mind!’ And this older man on a backhoe just looked at me and said, ‘Honey, you’re in a heap of trouble.’"
The Braman family braved the eight-month project, hunkering down in two bedrooms with one bathroom and a single electrical outlet among them. But now that the dust has settled, the four bedroom, three-and-a half-bath home—with its open, airy floor plan, stunning light fixtures, and architectural uniqueness—was more than worth the wait.
"It was such an interesting process and such a thrill for us to watch the whole thing being completed," says Randi, who adds with a chuckle, "After doing this project, nothing fazes us anymore."