About five years ago, Sharon and Gary Mallery stood on the top of an old warehouse in Federal Hill and were asked to envision a luxury penthouse. "It was so hot up there on that tar roof. And inside, the floors were covered with oil," reminisces Mrs. Mallery. But developer Marty Azola, president of Brooklandville-based M. P. Azola, was so persuasive the empty-nesters became the first buyers.
Today, that old tar roof has been replaced with a spacious, light-filled, three-floor condominium with drop-dead views of Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor directly across the street.
The Mallerys' residence is one of many beautiful homes -- approximately 16 of them in Baltimore -- open for tours during the 55th annual Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. It begins Saturday and runs through May 16, with houses open to visitors on specified days.
Down the street from the Mallerys' condominium is the meticulously restored row house of Doug and Vicki Franz, which also will be open for touring. The mid-19th century home is a
testimony to what the Franzes call "blood equity."
Mr. Franz, a vice president of administration for Allied Contractors, bought the house in 1976 and spent the next seven years uncovering the house's hidden potential. For example, he removed each window, stripped it of many layers of paint and then had every one reglazed. Buying new windows would have been easier, he says, but he wanted to preserve as much of the original house as possible.
The large kitchen is the heart of the home. Mr. Franz restored the large brick hearth, and, using additional brick, enclosed a double oven into the side of the fireplace. The jagged brick top is decorated with part of the couple's collection of blue ware china as well as a collection of baskets. Inside the fireplace hang authentic iron and brass kettles and skillets.
A dramatic pine cupboard, original to the house, has been stripped and stands along one wall. Hanging nearby, a child-size hutch holds the couple's spice collection. The couple discovered the piece on one their many antique shopping trips.
The Franzes, married three years, decorated the second-floor master bedroom with a mix of old and new pieces. The bed has a fabric-covered headboard and sports a new flame-stitch coverlet. An antique sitting area, including a Victorian-era settee and chairs, provides contrast.
Mrs. Franz says she has added much more color to the house, using brightly colored window treatments and upholstered pieces. She also chose to highlight some of the house's original woodwork. She painted the working fireplace -- one of five -- and trim work in the master bedroom a rich Victorian rose. The wooden doors and trim on the original closet, which is only 1-foot wide, also have been painted rose.
Most older houses, including the Franz home, either lack closets or have very, very small ones. Mr. Franz says he briefly considered building a large closet into the bedroom but decided that would spoil the room's proportions. Instead, he built an entire wall of closets in the large bathroom at the rear of the house. It can be a bit of a chore trekking to the rear of the house to dress, not to mention going to the bathroom, but the Franzes felt it was worth the sacrifice to preserve the look of the house.
While the Franzes were interested in maintaining the historic proportions of their house, the Mallerys' home is filled with every modern convenience, including spacious closets and centrally located bathrooms.
The home is decorated with golden-grained French country furniture and pickled finishes throughout. Window treatments are kept simple -- and in some cases don't exist. Organdy swags top the living area windows, festooned with plum rosettes, a detail that echoes the pattern of the wallpaper border. The look is light and spacious; it accentuates rather than competes with the view of Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor.
The private rooftop deck outlines the two sides of the penthouse. A hot tub and built-in seating add a touch of luxury.
Mrs. Mallery said she decided to shed almost all her traditional furnishings when she moved from her Colonial home in McLean, Va. "We were ready for a change," she says. The couple moved to Baltimore when Gary Mallery became the office managing partner of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche in downtown Baltimore. The couple's three daughters were grown and now had their own lives. Mrs. Mallery wanted a home where she and her husband could entertain.
The few pieces of living room furniture Mrs. Mallery did keep were either reupholstered to match the new pale mauve, plum, soft purple and pewter color scheme or pickled to match new furniture from the Baker Furniture Co.