A flair for the unconventional characterizes Anton Woods home Whimsical, modern art fills eclectic interior

Dream Home

March 17, 1996|By Daniel H. Barkin | Daniel H. Barkin,SUN STAFF

The Dream Homes feature will periodically visit the homes of

some of the Baltimore area's notable citizens.

David H. Nevins' home in Baltimore County is not what it seems.

From the street, it looks like the other upscale residences in Anton Woods, just northwest of the Beltway. And the dark-brown, brick-front home, around 4,000 square feet on a half-acre lot, starts out conventionally enough, with double wood entrance doors that open into a 2 1/2 -story foyer.

Off the foyer is Mr. Nevins' home office, where he works at night and on weekends, surrounded by photos that show him standing next to Colin Powell, Moshe Dayan, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Parris N. Glendening, Kurt L. Schmoke and other notables.

His shoulders have rubbed those of many famous personalities throughout his civic and corporate life, dating back two decades to his Towson State days, when he ran the student government lecture series. Today, he is chairman of Maryland Public Television and the head of his own marketing and public relations firm, Nevins & Associates.

But convention ends at the entrance to the family room. Whimsy and a love for things modern grab hold not only there, but throughout the house.

"You love it or you hate it," Mr. Nevins said.

The family room is modeled after the features Mr. Nevins and his wife, Sharon, discovered in their travels to New York and elsewhere.

The idea for decorating the room came from a French-Vietnamese restaurant in SoHo. Mr. Nevins was fascinated by the walls, particularly a crumbling plaster, exposed brick effect.

Mr. Nevins' fireplace and the wall in which it is embedded were brown brick, just like the outside of his house. They hired an artist and handed him photographs they had taken at the restaurant.

First, the artist hammered Sheetrock over the brick. Then he took a knife, and said " 'OK, well, how do you want it to look?,' " Mr. Nevins related. "And so we together cut it out, and cut a hole there, and I said, 'Let's put another little hole there.' " The artist painted the Sheetrock a yellowish hue.

The yellowish-gold walls of the balance of the family room are sponge painted, contrasting with the light blue of the ceiling. A Peter Max lithograph hangs on one wall, over the family room sofa. Running the length of the ceiling is a low-voltage lighting system, two strands of wire with lights straddled by three little metallic human figures.

Mr. Nevins came upon the concept in a clothing store. He found out the name of the artist who made it, and bought one.

"It's a 12-volt lighting system," he said. "There's a transformer, actually it's up in the ceiling. You can touch it. You can move these guys, slide them around."

Mr. Nevins said the family room is an example of the "evolutionary" way he and his wife decorated their home. The lighting system was installed for almost four years before they did the walls.

In the dining room is Mr. Nevins' first piece of furniture, a mirror-doored breakfront that dominates the room along with the gray lacquered-wood dining room table. At one end of the room are two conical, Corian translucent lamps that are as tall as Mr. Nevins.

On one dining room wall is an Andy Warhol lithograph. Underneath it is a table made by a Towson State student. The glass top is perched atop a steel crossbar attached to a vertical slab of concrete. Wires running from the glass top to the concrete keep the whole thing balanced.

The living room is Mr. Nevins' favorite, filled with a blend of lithographs from a variety of artists, including Frank Stella and Peter Max. But the most unusual object is what he calls "my Jackie chair," purchased at the Baltimore crafts fair last year. The back of the chair is, literally, a metallic image of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

"This is an artist who's a metal sculptor who is from the Midwest, and he did it," Mr. Nevins said. "It's not a political statement of any kind. I just thought it was so great."

The rug in the living room is an eye-catching, contemporary custom-made Italian design, an amalgam of black and white stripes, with inlays of yellow and blue shapes. The sofas and xTC chairs arranged around the rug have an Art Deco feel to them.

The sole concession to tradition in the room is the baby grand piano that came out of his mother's house when she moved into her condo.

"Hopefully, our daughter will learn to play that soon," Mr. Nevins said. Daughter Freddi, named for his late father, is 3 years old.

The second floor, with the children's bedrooms, guest bedroom and the master suite, has softer edges. In their 9-month-old son Jake's room, a window is surrounded by a lambrequin-like structure consisting of wood-mounted fabric decorated with cheerful images of animals. Mr. Nevins' mother, Joan, a retired interior designer, came up with the idea. The children's bathroom walls were hand-painted by two Baltimore artists. Ducks, soap bubbles and scrub brushes adorn the wall.

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