The House at Royal Oak

Starting Over, Renovating a Rickety Victorian, and Rebuilding a life One Room at a Time

Carol Eron Rizzoli

An unforgettable story about a couple who follow their dream of converting a run-down country house into a working bed and breakfast, and what they learn along the way from an old home, a close-knit community, and a parade of extraordinary guests.

"A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of an elegant B&B from a ruined house. Filled with quirky characters, this is a how-to book that deals with renovating lives as well as houses. Hard to put down."
- Carolyn Jourdan, author of Heart in the Right Place

In the spring of 2001, Carol Eron Rizzoli and her husband Hugo bought a dilapidated farmhouse in the tiny village of Royal Oak, Maryland, on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. They spent two years transforming it into a bed and breakfast, which took them twice as long and cost three times as much as they had originally estimated (on the back of a napkin). As they struggled to restore the house and open the B&B, Carol and Hugo were also slowly acquainting themselves with the rural community of Royal Oak, rich in custom and culinary traditions, and populated by neighbors with particular views on politics, hunting, wildlife, and of course, newcomers from the big city.

Written with honesty and humor, The House at Royal Oak is a journey to the heart of what it means to start over and chase a dream. Part inspirational account of reinventing yourself at mid-life, part love story about learning what matters most in a relationship, it is above all a book about home-what it means, and the unexpected places we find it.

Carol Eron Rizzoli served as a book editor for The Washington Post and was a managing editor of publications for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Her writing has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post, Readers Digest, The International Herald-Tribune, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. She and her husband live in and run Royal Oak House ( on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

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