Gay couple lives with antiques and friendly Potomac, MD neighbors

By Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on March 11, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

It's tick-tock time in the Fox Hill North neighborhood of North Potomac, Md., where this 4 BR, 2 1/2 BA house plays home to an antiquing collecting GM couple with a passion for neighborly living and timepieces from the past.

It wasn't long after Michael Schilling and Tim Schaefer fell in love with each other that they fell in love with their future home, where they found friendly neighbors, plenty of space for antiques, and colors that already matched their furniture. Eight years later, the home -- and its ever-growing collection of clocks and antiques -- is still a dream for them.

Michael: This area was pretty much all farmland fifteen to twenty years ago. Tim actually used to ride horses very near here. These houses went up in the mid 1980s and they sold like hotcakes. We were familiar with the neighborhood because we were living in a townhouse not far from here. We looked at several houses in the neighborhood and what really attracted us to this one were the colors -- the house coordinated well with the stuff that we already had. We haven't had to change a lot.

[In the kitchen] We are avid auction attendees and we love antiques. This clock we got at an auction in Rockville, Maryland. I went there and the clock was hanging on a wall and I was like, "Oh, my god!" I got it for a steal. You'll see clocks throughout the house -- I love clocks. I don't know what it is, but I'm a clock freak.

[In the guest bedroom] I ran across these old stock certificates in an antique store and I thought they were really neat. They're really just little pieces of art. I thought they would look cool hanging on the wall. I like the colors and the whole design of them is really great.

[In the hallway] These are antique photographs of kids that we found over the years. They are just so sweet. Some of them have inscriptions on the back. This one says, "A Valentine from Sunny." This one is a little girl named Mary Pierce and it says something about a coat that her father saw in Paris and had made for her.

[In the family room] I love this Victrola. It was totally stripped and I refinished it. It was someone else's project that was never finished -- the owner of the store [where I found it] wasn't even sure if it worked so he gave me a great deal on it. It works beautifully. I have all kinds of records for it. You can find them cheap at flea markets and stuff.

This cabinet was in the front lobby of the condo building where Tim and I used to live in D.C. The guy who rehabbed the lobby pulled it down into the garage. He had pulled the drawers out, ripped the desk off, and punched these panels out -- they were going to hull it away to the trash. I asked him for it and he said sure. So I took it and found all the pieces he had removed in a big trash dumpster. All the hardware is original. It's a great piece.

Honestly, we have the best neighbors. As a matter of fact, before we ever put a contract on the house we had fallen in love with it. While the house was for sale we would walk over here and sit on the deck and pretend the house was already ours. One night it was snowing out and we decided to walk over to the house. We ran into what turned out to be our very close neighbor right across the street. When she found out we were interested in the house she was so excited, so happy, so welcoming -- that's been the reaction we have gotten from everyone.

Tim and I are on the architectural change committee for our neighborhood. If someone wants to put up a fence they have to submit a change to the committee. One lady wanted to submit a request but she wanted it back very quickly because she was on a time constraint. She called us not knowing who we were and said she wanted to drop this request off. We were explaining where our house was and she asked, "How close are you to the two men?" I told her we are the two men and she said, "Oh, my god, I know exactly where you live." Yes, we are the token gays in the neighborhood, but it isn't a bad thing.

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