Aunts have an effect on nieces, particularly those with their own antique shops. The owner of this lovely Ruxton Colonial owes much of her appreciation and knowledge of antiques to a great-aunt.
"She owned Chenoweth Galleries in Atlanta, Ga.," she says. "She had the shop for years; IBM built a complex there. . . . " Her voice drops a bit as she remembers.
The great-aunt grew up in Atlanta, she says, and all her relatives' houses were full of French, English and American antiques. She prefers traditional things. No cute twists on the tried and true, no apologies, just the proper, tasteful way of putting rooms together.
"When we first got married," she continues, "my aunt helped out. She'd lug up [to Baltimore] Orientals and different pieces of furniture. Then she'd turn around and go to Howard Street to Amos Judd & Son, buy antiques there and take them to Atlanta. In the early years, everything was given [to my husband and me]. And later, when the shop went out of business, I went down there and purchased antiques."
Working with designer Michael Sell, an associate with Federal Hill Interiors, she was able to integrate gifts from the past and very fine reproduction pieces into the home's vibrant traditional style. She indicates the rug in the entrance hall. A gift from her aunt, the Mashhad Red Oriental's ruby tones have always been a favorite of hers. Mr. Sell sought out fabrics, colors and textures for all the public rooms leading from the entrance hall, so that a single view from the front door reveals a perfectly coordinated, yet not over-simplistic design.
Scattered throughout the house are extraordinary pieces, such as the entrance hall's cherry Connecticut bow-front chest, circa 1785. But the owner appreciates fine reproductions as well -- and pieces of less monetary value if they harbor a memory. An important piece here is the grandfather clock, inherited from family but "just an old American clock," she says. Manufactured in Michigan during the early 1900s, it stands in a place of honor opposite the front door.
The elegant living room combines vases from the aunt's shop, now incarnated into lamps, a reproduction Chippendale-style sofa swathed in ruby damask, and various antiques discovered by the owner over the years at the Baltimore Museum of Art Antique Show.
The dining room's reproduction inlaid-mahogany table is handsomely set with delicate crystal and 19th century Dresden china from the aunt's shop, while the Stieff silver was inherited from the owner's husband's family.
An upstairs bedroom's sedate, restrained colors offer a departure from the more strident tones used in the public rooms. Here, designer Merry C. Highby of Merry Highby Interior Design Limited selected a Brunschwig & Fils stripe window treatment and dust ruffle for a comforter of printed cotton damask in a pale sea-foam shade. Wall covering of sea foam and rose-pink complements the golden tones of the maple and pine three-quarter poster bed, with its pie-roll crest on the paneled pine headboard, circa 1820.