- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2001

Rhonda Raden remembers how she and her husband Jeff set out to build their custom brick-and-stone house nine years ago.

"We had seen a picture in a magazine," she says. "The outside resembled this," the house they subsequently built. "We took [the picture] to an architect," who used the picture as a starting point, "and then hired a builder," she says.

The Radens worked with the architect to design the interior of the house. "It took us close to a year to draw the house," Mrs. Raden says. "Construction was close to 18 months."

That may sound like a long time, but the care the Radens took to design and build the house is reflected in each perfect detail they put into it: the deep custom crown molding, the carved cherry bookcases and the wet bar with a built-in beer keg. In the seven years they have reared their family there, they have maintained the seven-bedroom house meticulously.

Now downsizing, they have put the house on the market for $1.5 million. It is on a pastoral lot of more than 3 acres in upper Montgomery County, a beautiful location where home prices are considerably lower than those in close-in Montgomery County in Bethesda or Chevy Chase, for example. Buyers get more for their money in northernmost Gaithersburg.

The Radens' house offers more than most. With more than 11,000 finished square feet, it has a two-story entry hall with a curved formal staircase and a balcony overlook at the top.

In addition to spacious formal living and dining rooms, the house has a semicircular conservatory with nine windows where the Radens have a grand piano. This music room is open to the living room, set apart by four ornamental columns and one step up.

The living room has a high arched ceiling. The first floor also contains a large family room, a large sun room, a gourmet kitchen with a tile-topped center island, and a separate breakfast room.

Gleaming oak floors can be seen in all main living areas except the sun room, where the floor is ceramic tile. The floors in the kitchen and breakfast room are wide-plank pegged oak.

Each of the bedrooms has its own private bathroom, for a total of seven full baths. The house also has three powder rooms, two on the first floor and one on the second floor.

One of the seven bedroom suites is on the first floor. The other six, including the master-bedroom suite, are upstairs. There is a rear staircase.

The house has three fireplaces. The one in the family room is made of stone. The fireplace in the master-suite sitting room has an antique wood mantel and marble surround. The third fireplace, in the breakfast room, is a gas fireplace and a unique ceramic corner piece.

The breakfast room and sun room both have ceiling fans. The family room has two wide built-in custom cherry bookcases with cabinets below, one of which incorporates the wet bar.

The kitchen cabinets also are cherry, and many have windowed doors for china display. A built-in bookcase in the kitchen holds cookbooks. The kitchen not only has modern appliances, but has two each of most of them: two Sub-Zero refrigerators, two dishwashers, two electric cook tops and two self-cleaning convection ovens. It also has an ice machine and a built-in microwave oven. The large center island includes a four-chair breakfast bar as a casual alternative to the adjacent breakfast room, in which the Radens have a table that seats eight.

The breakfast room has seven windows plus a door to the brick patio outside.

In the formal dining room, the Radens have a table that seats 12 and a built-in buffet with a mirrored wall above.

Multiple pairs of French doors four pairs in the family room and four in the sun room lead from the house to an L-shaped brick terrace with covered brick walks. The terrace, which runs along one side of the house and across the back, opens to a wide patio that in turn leads to a 40-foot in-ground swimming pool. There is another pair of French doors at the end of a wide side hall that runs between the family room and sun room.

A pair of pocket doors separate the kitchen and a smaller hall near the dining room. Interior French doors are at an entry foyer to the master-bedroom suite on the second floor, and two pairs of French doors open from the master bedroom to a balcony outside.

A single door leads to the balcony from the sitting room in the master-bedroom suite, which also has walk-in his-and-her closets. The master bath has a marble floor, whirlpool tub and glass-block shower for two plus his-and-her vanities. It has a separate water closet in effect a fourth powder room with a pedestal sink.

The large formal powder room off the entry hall is as dramatic as any room in the house. It has a gleaming oak floor, deep crown molding, a brass-and-glass light fixture and hand-painted walls that depict a flower garden. The sink is built into an antique dresser, which also is painted with flowers.

Not as dramatic but convenient and practical are the house's many closets, including four first-floor coat closets, a kitchen storage closet in addition to a kitchen pantry, a large first-floor storage room and a second-floor linen room. There also is storage space in the second-floor laundry room, in the house's two two-car garages and in the 6,000-square-foot unfinished basement.

In addition to the six bedroom suites and laundry room, the second floor contains a playroom where the Radens' three children have computer equipment and a Foosball game.

The house has formal and informal front entry doors, each with its own covered brick porch. The formal entry, which leads into the two-story entry hall, has a double oak door with leaded glass windows. The informal entry, which is next to the garage, leads to the hall to the kitchen. It has a single oak door. A wide circular driveway provides easy access, and professional landscaping provides the finishing touch.

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