Vision, sweat transform eyesore


October 09, 1994|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing Writer

The interior of the three-story, Baltimore rowhouse was completely charred, the foundation was unsound, and termites had feasted on the wooden kitchen addition.

For James Moore, it was perfect.

"I could see the possibilities," says Mr. Moore, whose hobby is buying, renovating and selling Baltimore rowhouses. "It had three stories, and I could do a lot with it."

But Mr. Moore wanted this house for himself and his two children.

His kids had other ideas.

"When they saw the house, they said, 'No way,' " recalls the 37-year-old Baltimore native, who divorced his wife seven years ago. "But I told them to just be patient."

He bought the brick house in Washington Village three years ago for $12,000, then combed through magazines and design books for inspiration.

"I didn't want an ordinary-looking house," he says.

The home's special character is most visible in the living room. A spiral staircase to the second floor punctuates the room; the exposed brick fire walls at the entrance add texture to a room full of flat drywall. The brick walls ascend 20 feet, opening up part of the living room to the second floor.

There's a new oak floor and an antique mantle with a mirror and double-tiered Corinthian column on each side of the fireplace.

Several photos on the mantle show visitors just how far the house has come. The photos, taken just after Mr. Moore bought the house, show an interior full of charred debris.

"I knew I had to come in and fix everything," says Mr. Moore, who spent about two years renovating the house. The home was completed last January.

He did part of the work himself; contractors did the rest.

Mr. Moore paid contractors by performing construction work for them on other houses. For example, Mr. Moore paid the electrician by performing air-conditioning work at another house.

Although he saved money on labor at his home, he still spent $25,000 to $30,000 on materials. Part of the outlay was spent on rebuilding the kitchen and adding a bedroom above it.

Visitors step down into the kitchen because Mr. Moore wanted enough room to add two triangular-shaped transoms, which add plenty of light.

The kitchen also sports a colorful tile back-splash with a few hand-painted tiles over the cast-iron sink.

The kitchen also has a Jenn-Air grill, maple cabinets and a Formica counter top that resembles marble. The glittery, fan wallpaper has a three-dimensional quality that seems to sway with the changing light. A breakfast bar is in the middle of the long, narrow room.

"I have a friend who's an architect, and he told me that this breakfast bar wouldn't work," he says.

But it does. There's plenty of room to move around. In fact, this room is the soul of the Moore home.

"This is our hangout, our meeting place," says Mr. Moore, a mechanic for the Washington Metro.

He and his children eat, socialize and watch television in the kitchen. The home's only television is built into the kitchen wall.

"Where we lived before we spent a lot of time in our rooms because there were televisions there," he explains. "Now it's centralized in one place. The communication is different, and we're closer because of it."

The second floor is his kids' domain. His son, Adam, 10, has the balcony room, which overlooks the living room. His 14-year-old daughter, Tenea, has the bedroom at the other end of the house with windows that overlook the small back yard.

The bathroom has a ceramic tile picture of ocean fish.

Mr. Moore reserved the third floor for himself. The master bedroom suite consists of a skylight, fireplace, bathroom and roof deck.

The home fits the Moores' needs. But there is one missing room: a dining room.

"We need it for family gatherings," Mr. Moore says. "That may be next year's addition."

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