Treasure By the Bay

Jenny Bignell and Judy Lemons

The charming Cape Cod home backs to the Chesapeake Bay surrounded by beautiful cottage garden perennials and flowering shrubs. It has many options for outdoor living, including several porches, a pool and paver patio located with built-in stone walls and firepit.
Writer and Photographer: Vickie Kite Milburn

When Judy Lemons and Jenny Bignell came across this Cape Cod in Cove Point on the Chesapeake Bay, they knew they had found a treasure.

It reminded them of the Carolina low-country homes that they loved so much. They had been living part time in Calvert County since Jenny’s sister introduced them to the area in 1989. They both lived in Washington, D.C., and looked forward to their weekends and holidays spent relaxing in Calvert County. They found the perfect spot for creating an inspirational setting where they could eventually live full time in retirement and share with their family and friends.

A house with charm

The house had great bones and charming details — a wraparound porch, wide baseboards, transom windows above the doors, casement windows and an incredible waterfront location.
Most importantly, it had breathtaking water views, and great potential for creating a relaxing, refreshing outdoor living area.

Judy, originally from California, has lived on the East Coast for more than 49 years. She landed in Washington, D.C., after driving cross country to take her first job out of college as a secretary for a political consulting firm. She later took a position on Capitol Hill. She always has been drawn to the casual, relaxing lifestyle of the West Coast and enjoys beach and water activities. Her dream was to one day live on the water.
When the bayfront home became available, she already had a vision of the outdoor living space she wanted to create.
She drew her vision in a sketch for the contractor and the makeover began.
Jenny, who is the gardener in the family, has lived in the D.C. area for 57 years and recently retired from the insurance industry in 2002.

She was originally from a small coastal town in Sussex, England. She added her talent and vision to the plans for the cottage gardens, and the result is nothing short of fabulous. Looking from the back of the house, a raised flower bed is planted with trailing vinca. In another bed, is limelight and bigleaf hydrangea. The bronze sculpture, by Scott Tindall, is one of two on the property — Moby and Richard.

Behind the screened porch and shed are a greenhouse and pergola-framed beds with tomatoes and herbs.  The landscaping provides lots of gardens surrounding the house with an abundance of colorful plants and shrubs. Hydrangeas – oakleaf, bigleaf and mophead varieties — flourish at the side of the house. Hollyhocks add stunning beauty to the wood fence. The built-in flower beds are bursting with blooming perennials including coneflowers, day lilies, lithrum, St. John’s wort, spirea, shasta and Montauk daisies, and gooseneck loosestrife. Geranium, salvia, mini petunias and hibiscus are used in the planters.

The pool patio is designed for cooking, eating and relaxing. The pool deck steps down to a path to the water’s edge, where kayaks await.

A transformation
Adding the gardens and outdoor living space transformed the property. They were fortunate that the house was in much better shape than the grounds.
The main level of the home, which contains the living and dining areas, sunroom, kitchen and master bedroom remained intact, but the second floor was enlarged by bumping out the dormers and expanding not only the space upstairs, but the water view.

While they didn’t need to renovate the main level of the house, they did apply their artistic skills to create a warm, welcoming environment. The interior of the house is decorated in a coastal style inspired by beach life, with comfortable and colorful furniture.
The house is decorated with cheerful fabrics, artwork from their favorite artists, family antiques, meaningful accessories and whimsical elements.

The talent runs deep in this family. Several of the art pieces were painted by Jenny’s father. Her brother created the kitchen mache pieces.
Judy and Jenny have been together for more than 35 years. They have created a treasure by the Chesapeake Bay that is comfortable, inspirational and fun!