Wendy Sands Eckel - Chestertown
They say that our lives, like pages in a book, need margins for us to pause and breathe. We also need quiet and peace for our minds to be able to maneuver, stretch, and have the visual elbow room to dream. For award-winning novelist Wendy Sand Eckel, abundant light, clean counters, and the view of the water in her newly renovated home afford her the creative space she needs to spin the Rosalie Hart murder mysteries, and it’s where she continues to make her stories come alive.
Those who have read any of Wendy’s work may find a visit to Chestertown, MD altogether familiar, as each story is set in an uncannily similar Eastern Shore town. Wendy’s novels may be imagined, but the ospreys and other water-loving birds who commonly descend, the sound of the current, and the fog that swells above it are real. Chestertown is where Wendy spent her early adulthood, raised her children, and with the help of Eric Oliver of Signature Dream Homes, was able to fulfill her dream of restoring her newfound home and return to the shore.
Wendy recounts that she always loved “The Pink House.” She used to drive by it every day, and when she saw the For-Sale sign on a visit a couple of years ago, she pulled over and had one of those stand-still moments when she knew this was where she wanted to be again. Seated on the Chester River, this 1941 home is substantial and inviting. Clad in the pink brick of its namesake, gracefully faded from its original white, and hugged with local shrubbery, it’s a common conversation piece for locals. Friends don’t miss even small changes to the landscape as they drive by along the river--not even a newly-added hanging wicker chair goes unnoticed.
Shortly after securing the house, Wendy and her fiancé Bob Roth began dreaming of what to do with the then-modernized rooms that had been unoccupied for 20 years or more. They started by tearing down heavy drapes, pulling up carpet, cutting back shrubs and trees, and smoothing on the same cream-colored paint throughout, revealing the original appearance of the house and inviting a Secret Garden-like reawakening--a fresh start for both themselves and their home.
Being an artist, the visual details were important to Wendy in the place where she lives and works her craft. She connected with Eric Oliver at the Annapolis Home Show, and when Wendy saw pictures of his designs, she knew he had the passion for detail, function, and aesthetics that would help bring her vision to fruition. There, they began to share renovation ideas as they planned to restore the integrity and beauty of this well-known Chestertown home.
Now, when you walk inside “The Pink House,” the neutral tones and breathing spaces bring an immediate sense of calm--a true place of visual rest. Wendy explains that Eric worked hard to keep the architectural integrity of the house, orchestrating important touches like custom-made crown molding to match the original design, a widened door frame to better view the river, and an artful glass backsplash to simulate and echo the water behind. Eric was attentive to Wendy and Bob’s living patterns and love for cooking, opening a flow to the house that had been hidden over time, expanding the kitchen’s entrance with beautifully crafted wood floors and generous counters. Lighted wine glasses glitter cleverly out of the way; there is no wasted space, no clutter. Even now, the mudroom is strewn with designs by local artist, Faith Wilson who is creating custom-painted floor textiles.
Wendy is grateful that her house has become a pleasant gathering place for her family, that she’s nearer to one of her daughters, and can invite her grandson to play freely. She notices that it gives those who enter a sense of “ahhh” and ease. Being in Chestertown again has allowed Wendy to organically re-engage with friends, be among a community of artists, historians and philosophers, and be part of a writers’ critique group that she greatly values. Here, she has outlets to share about the writing and publishing process, speaking at various literary meetings, and can continue her work relaxed and undisturbed.
When Wendy describes living in Chestertown, enjoying time on her porch looking out on the river, it seems like she herself can hardly absorb the beauty and serenity of this place. She talks about waving to the tall ships passing below on Downrigging weekend, drinking champagne with Bob as the boats roll by. And she recalls recently witnessing an osprey flying with a perch in its talons when a bald eagle swooped in, snatched it from him, and flew right above their heads. . . this lovely respite seems almost as surreal and engaging as the alternate world she creates in her novels, which isn’t so unreal after all.
Currently, Wendy is working to complete the third book in the Rosalie Hart series. You can read more about Wendy and her novels by visiting Amazon as well as her personal website: