Leonard Sachs and Lainy LeBow-Sachs have turned their world outside-in.
The renovations and additions to the Baltimore power couple’s Reisterstown, Md., home make it ideal not only for entertaining large groups, but for entertaining birds, too.
Fond of plants and flowering shrubs as well, Leonard commissioned a solarium that defies Mid-Atlantic winters.
And the flagstone that was once the exterior of the house is now part of the study and den and informal dining area, giving the house a rustic, masculine quality.
“It is the perfect place to come home to,” said Lainy, who works as an executive vice president at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
The couple have been married for almost half of the 47 years Leonard has lived here, and the house has gone through a number of major renovations and additions.
“The house has seen a lot of different lives,” said Jay Jenkins, the interior designer for three of the most important rooms in the house for the couple: the kitchen, the solarium and the first-floor master bedroom.
“It is a labor of love for them. A lot of very talented people have brought their best efforts, and every job has been very complementary.”
The first-floor bedroom is surrounded on two sides by large windows that look out on a cluster of birdhouses and bird feeders and birdbaths. The couple can lie in bed in the light-filled room and, if they are very still, they can watch a variety of birds arrive, eat, bathe and depart.
“We fill the feeders every Monday,” Lainy said. “And in the morning, we lay in bed and watch the birds.”
“You have to be very still,” said Leonard. “They notice any movement in the house.” Netting surrounds the bird sanctuary to keep out cats and other predators. And it is planted with an abundance of flowering shrubs and wisteria to attract the birds.
“We worked to make it a comfortable, cleaner place,” said Jenkins. “Interacting with the outdoors is very important to both of them.”
Doors on either side of the bed in this bright room lead to long, narrow, his-and-hers bathrooms, very modern, practical and luxurious. “We can meet in the middle,” Lainy said, laughing.
The second floor, where all the original bedrooms are, now serves as the pied-a-terre for the couple’s blended family: five children and nine grandchildren.
And the kitchen, with family pictures everywhere, is more than up to the task of feeding the crew — or 200 guests at a fundraiser.
The Sachses are prominent patrons of the arts in Baltimore as well as civic causes. Leonard Sachs chaired the restoration of Penn Station and commissioned the signature “Man/Woman” sculpture out front.
Also designed by Jenkins and partner Alexander Baer, the kitchen has gleaming Mexican tile floors and counters, part of an expansion that created a cozy den at one end and a huge farm-style dining area at the other end, both next to the cooking area.
“I used to do a lot more cooking. I even made my own bread” said Lainy, the longtime aide to the late Gov. William Donald Schaefer. “When I stop working, I will go back to cooking.”
“The den is a little fall and winter place to go,” said Jenkins. “The scale is more intimate, the colors deeper and darker, and [it has] a fireplace.”
The couple used to do a great deal of traveling, too, and mementos abound. Lainy has a collection of tiny Limoges boxes, of whimsical teakettles, of paperweights and of elephants.
The art on display also reflects the couple’s travels and is a dynamic mix of bold colors and geometric designs.
“I buy what I appreciate,” said Leonard, when asked about his interests in art. “I like color, shapes. I like the freeness of the colors. The pieces just suited us.”
He and Lainy have safaried in Africa and biked in Switzerland, France and Holland. They have hiked in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies and visited China, Russia and Norway, and gone white-water rafting in Yellowstone. They will be married 20 years this May.
Life has slowed for both, and now their favorite destination is the solarium Leonard adores. It extends from what used to be the front of the house down toward the pool. Glass-enclosed and with an irrigation/sprinkler system, the in-ground garden is planted with orchids and a variety of green and flowering plants and is gently lit from the rafters above at night to magical effect.
“If someone sends me a plant, we find a place for it,“ said Leonard, who has also taken up painting. “Even in winter, I am surrounded by flowers and plants.”
“Leonard wanted to make it a place that was more appropriate for Lainy to be with him,” Jenkins said of the space. There are a desk, a computer work station, a television and a beautifully rendered model of the Pride of Baltimore, on which he had the privilege of sailing.
On display in the solarium is the flag that draped Schaefer’s coffin, presented to Lainy after the services, which she coordinated. But it was clearly Leonard’s space before the changes.
“She wanted to be there with him,” said Jenkins. “Our job was to make the room a more special place for the two of them to spend time together.”
On the coffee table are heavily annotated bird books, with colored strips marking pages covering birds they have seen outside the windows of their home.
“So many different kinds,” said Lainy. “Sometimes we can’t find them in any of our books. But they are here for us.”