Light, warmth and a cozy place for cats to curl up


March 12, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

The three-story white stucco duplex in the Guilford/Oakenshawe area was perfect for them -- almost.

The home had two porches. The back yard could be groomed into a colorful garden. They could walk to the 32nd Street Farmers Market.

But the house in the 400 block of Southway was flawed because it had no sun room. Chuck Robinson and David J. Hamblin wanted a room where plants could flourish year-round, their three cats could nap in the warmth and where they could look out to their garden.

They knew the house had potential, though, because a Georgian duplex next door, also built in the early 1920s, had a sun room. They went to work soon after they bought the home last spring and tripled the number of windows in a room off the kitchen.

"We put in as many Andersen windows as we could afford," says Mr. Robinson, 35, a psychiatrist at University Hospital.

They spend a lot of time in the room. Soon, they will be moving flowers and herbs in pots on the windowsills to the garden.

Mr. Robinson, an avid gardener, has drawn his companion into the hobby. "I thought it would be a big expense. It wasn't," says Mr. Hamblin, 28, an anthropology student at Towson State University.

Earlier this year, they planted about 350 bulbs that soon will burst into tulips, daffodils, crocuses and other colorful flowers. They've also planted a garden in their neighbor's yard. Judy Brown is a senior citizen and unable to do all of the work herself.

Mr. Hamblin will plant sunflowers again this year near trellises at one end of the home's side porch.

The home's other porch is off a second-floor study. The small terrace overlooks the garden and has a view of the city skyline. They said they can see fireworks at the Inner Harbor. Even their dog, a black mutt named Molly Brown, enjoys the perch.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hamblin found their house at the end of their first day of house-hunting. They were renting a house in Charles Village and didn't want to move far because they liked the area.

"We can walk to the [farmers] market, which gives a feeling of Europe," Mr. Hamblin says.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hamblin paid $97,500 for the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home and said they received a loan for the down payment through a city-sponsored program. They have done almost all of the renovations themselves.

They even changed the light fixtures. "The place looked like it had been decorated by Spencer's Gifts," says Mr. Hamblin, who hung antique fixtures instead.

Now, the decor is "eclectic," he says. In the living room, a chair that dates to before the Civil War is placed next to a couch circa 1900. A bedroom suite is from the 1930s.

The television is in a third-floor library that is as long as the house is wide -- 21 feet.

Mr. Robinson said he likes the fact that their home has places to hang out or "hole up," such as the library and porches. Overnight guests have their choice of a small third-floor room or a larger one on the second floor.

"We really liked our last house," he says. "But it wasn't ours. This is ours. No doubt about it."

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