Lighting Up a Room


March 03, 1996|By Beth Smith

Letting light into their dining room was top priority with Baltimore couple when they hired architect Walter Schamu to renovate their 19th-century farmhouse that borders Lake Roland. The entire house had a dark charm," recalls Mr. Schamu. "But we wanted to open it up to light and to the view."

The solution for the dining room was inspired by a panel of stained glass that had been designed in the early 1980s by artist Roland Greefkes for the couple's previous home. Used as a window to let light into that house, the panel had been dismantled and moved to the 1850s farmhouse.

Mr. Greefkes, a third-generation Dutch ironsmith who designs ironwork for celebrities such as Yoko Ono and Bette Midler, was also working in stained glass in the '80s and created the panel with an art deco design. "The style is geometric and somewhat reminiscent of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright," says the wife.

The glass for the panel came from Bendheim, a warehouse in the Soho section of New York City. "It's an incredible place that is four or five stories high and contains nothing but glass," says Mr. Greefkes. "The glass is in 3-by-5 sheets. It's new glass, but it has been handmade in the traditional way, which makes it thicker and more tricky to use."

When renovations began on the farmhouse, the owners, working with Mr. Schamu, commissioned Mr. Greefkes to make a duplicate stained-glass panel -- incorporating the same type of glass and the same design as the original one. Then, for a newly created opening to a light-filled hallway off the dining room, Mr. Schamu designed pocket doors using the old and new glass panels.

The new doors not only let light from nearby windows flood the room, they also provide a perfect backdrop for the owners' turn-of-the-century dining room furniture. And, says the wife, "We can sit in the dining room and see all the way through to the outside."

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