Someone could move in tomorrow is the first thought as you enter the Country-style decorated house overlooking the Severn River.

Pine Lane Retreat is a decorators' show house, but real people will move in after May 16. Until then, visitors are welcome to tour for $5 apiece, which goes toward the Auxiliary of the Anne Arundel General Hospital (for information about hours and directions from Washington, see Page 2).

The coordinated look from room to room, explained hospital public relations director Lisa Hillman, "is necessary because it was designed for Dr. and Mrs. Robert Welch from Baltimore. Keeping in mind that the owners were moving in after the tour, our designers worked with them on each room." The Welches bought the home last year from Capuchin monks, who used the home, as the name implies, as a retreat.

No room shouts for attention but attracts you subtly. The rooms are not simple, yet they give the feeling of simplicity. Many of the designers chose to let the river be the focus of their rooms, rather than distract with fancy wall coverings or window dressings.

Designer Elizabeth Saunders went so far as to block up one of the windows in the living room, so that the other window which faces the river would be the focal point of the room.

The house-on-the-river theme is carried out on the second floor hall walls and stairwell with Annapolis painter John Wilson Jr.'s earthy green mural composed of a series of houses overlooking rivers. The houses are his impression of what the Severn River area may have looked like in the 1840s. Pine Lane Retreat was actually built at the turn-of-the-century by Ernest Judson Clark Sr. as a summer cottage. The house was sold in 1923 to John Sherwood of Sherwood Gardens fame in Baltimore.

As wonderful as the house looks today, the designers admit that the job wasn't always easy.

Gary Lawrik of Woodward & Lothrop, who was responsible for the master bedroom, dressing room and bath, pointed out where the floors in the bedroom were not even. "Like many old homes, these floors run downhill making the walls up to three inches longer at one end." He took this into consideration when ordering the polished cotton curtains.

Lawrik's yellow, green, accented with fuschia, curtains hang simply, overlapping each other at the top of each of the three windows. As they fall, the fabric has been turned over, exposing the white underside, giving a nice border to the curve. The ties are a strip of the same fabric.

Lawrik used a rich green wall-to-wall carpeting to cover one of the house's few unfinished floors. The carpet's custom fit also lessens the decline in the floor. The walls are painted a very pale yellow, allowing the antique and reproduction pinewood furniture to make a statement.

The dining room has two perpendicular walls of windows, and covering them with a good fabric could be very expensive. Designers Bonner Field and Elizabeth Smith used the windows to their advantage. Since they overlook the river and porch in the front and the gardens to the side, Field and Smith produced a gazebo effect with short inobtrusive sailcloth curtains ballooned at the top of the window, "a sort of flat balloon look," according to Field. The beige sailcloth "curtains" are really short panels, pulled up by a multi-colored striped fabric. They are stationary and don't come down. But with such a secluded spot there's no fear of Peeping Toms.

The garden-like dining room is further enhanced by four floor-to-ceiling fica trees in each of the corners of the room, along with pots and pots of azaleas. The circular glass table with four draped sailcoth chairs is situated in front of the two walls of windows. The walls are painted white with faux-marble molding along both the ceiling and floor. On the floor beneath the glass table, the designers used a natural canvas area rug.

Elizabeth Saunders admitted that the living room is actually very long and narrow. She created a more intimate squared-off look by painting the walls raspberry red. The deep color draws the room's long ends inward. The room has a fireplace with a mantle that goes up about two thirds of the wall. Saunders built the mantle up to the ceiling with wood paneling. This pulls your eye upward, giving the impression of a high ceiling. Saunders used a brilliant red, purple and yellow Brunschwig and Fils chintz on the sofa and armchair. An antique French country clock that still works adds to the country ambience of the home.

In the three third-floor rooms, the ceiling angles downward at the front-facing windows, forming a small bay to each of the rooms. Jo Tilghman and Marilyn Henderson made the best use of alcove space in their "teen-age daughter's bedroom." They made a mattress of the exact width and length of the alcove and stretched it across the alcove floor. Lots of stuffed pillows and the ever-present phone make it ideal for a young girl's retreat. A steel and bronze bed with a matching clothes rack made by Annapolis metal artist, Chris Modla, maintains the country look.

Nancy Hagedorn and Katherine Lee had a very common problem with the library. Again, like many old homes, the room had little wall space on which to anchor the furniture. One wall had a window, another a door, another was completely taken up by French windows leading to the morning room. To top it off a fireplace took up one entire corner.

The designers got around the lack of wall space by placing an arm chair and ottoman in the corner and anchoring the rest of the furniture to it. Two more armchairs were placed side by side slightly to the left of the first chair, forming a diagonal across the room. Three burgundy and navy oriental rugs in diminishing sizes, also placed side by side, add to the diagonal formation. Two perpendicular mahogany wall units fill the free wall space. Colorful pillows fill the light green arm chairs, spilling onto the floor for casual seating.

Designers of the other rooms of Pine Lane Retreat include: Betty F. Ruddle, who did the porch/cafe'; Interior Concepts did the foyer as well as the morning room and guest bath; students from Hood College did the bar and powder room; Peggy Wanamaker, the kitchen; Sharon Kirkley, the breakfast room; Vita Merryfield and Eileen Schwartz did the nursery; Garon's Furniture did the guest bedroom; Sue Reger did the upper stairway closet; Jan Miller and Jane Jacobsen designed the third floor hall decorated with stained glass by Bobbie Burnett; Beverly Flynn did the third floor bath; students from the Maryland Institute College of Art did the child's room; Jane Abrams coordinated the downstairs gallery; and Jan Ferguson did the back hall and greenhouse.

Directions & Hours

Directions from Washington: take Rte. 50 east. Cross the Severn River Bridge. Take the first left after the bridge. Take an immediate right onto Winchester Road. Follow until you reach Pine Lane Retreat Road, on the left.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Call (301) 647-7389 for information.