Artist splashes colors from rug throughout house Fells Point rowhouse has contemporary style

Dream Home

December 07, 1997|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It all started with an Oriental rug, one with light blues and greens, pinks and peaches, grays and reds that Wilbur M. Reeling can't even recall how he came to own. But that 5-by-8-foot rug forms the centerpiece for the color schemes throughout his renovated three-story rowhouse in the 100 block of S. Ann St. in Fells Point.

"I knew that I wanted this piece in the front room, which is now my dining room, and that everything else had to work with it," said Reeling, a self-described eccentric artist.

Reeling, who has previously worked as a television photographer and restaurant critic, also wanted to break the rules so that visitors would see something different when they entered his Fells Point rowhouse, which he bought about three years ago after living in Harford and Cecil counties for several years.

"Why should the first room be the living room, just because a builder planned it that way and because people all follow that idea," asks Reeling. "I wanted that space in the first room to be something else."

With a dark wood dining room table and a matching dish cabinet, Reeling's dining room offers a brick-front fireplace and a round Italian contemporary lamp. The dining room chairs are finished in a vertically striped pattern of ivory and seafoam green, the same pattern and design as the draperies on the front window. Drawn from one of the faint colors of the rug, the appearance calls more attention to the rug.

The walls are an ivory shade with narrow gray stripes, matching perfectly the gray-patterned ceiling -- again pulling yet another color from the rug.

"The feeling I get from the seafoam green should radiate so that you become as affected when you see this room as I was when I first saw the rug," Reeling said.

Rounding out the first room is a wine rack, fashioned of green metal and leather stirrups. It holds about 30 bottles of collector wines, befitting its prominence as a focal point in the room. Track lighting, with beams that can be moved, offers light, which he can dim with a turn of a dial, depending on his mood or the items he wishes to emphasize.

"Lighting plays such a critical role in how a house feels to people, so I want to have options available so I can light it appropriately," said Reeling, who can fix the light on a group of three of his color drawings framed together along the wall opposite the white front door.

The kitchen has a blue and red Oriental rug, but it's the long brick wall opposite the appliances, sink and counter space and the dark wood beams running horizontally overhead that catch the eye. The beams hold spices, pastas and assorted cooking oils and vinegars. Below the beams, on the brick wall, hang numerous pots and pans, used by Reeling frequently. "I fancy myself a gourmand," he said.

Ivory wallpaper, sofa

The kitchen gives way to his studio, a one-story addition to the house with a slanted roof. His artwork lines the walls, and his drawing supplies fill an artist's table. A large, ivory-colored sofa is in the center of the room.

Along the opposite wall from his art supplies and table is a television and stereo system, featuring Surround Sound for use with his collection of several hundred compact discs. The walls and ceiling are decorated with an ivory wallpaper featuring gray stripes. "It's a great color that goes throughout the house, so it kind of holds it all together," he said.

On the second floor is "Honor's Room," named for his 10-year-old daughter.When she visits, she also enjoys a Surround Sound system, a matching light-colored wood twin bed and dresser, and a large dollhouse, placed on a stand in the center of the room. Honor also has her own working fireplace and a bathroom, decorated in the same pink and white wallpaper colors and pink trim.

"I wanted her to have a room that was her own, that makes her feel comfortable, where she can feel at home," said Reeling, who is divorced.

On the house's third floor is Reeling's room and office area, separated by a staircase. On one side is the office, with a large bookshelf, desk and credenza.

The office has a computer and telephone system and is where he conducts much of the business of finding galleries for his art shows.

Opposite the office is his bedroom, which has a seven-speaker system of its own. The opposing walls are brick, while the front and back walls of the floor are gray.

Reeling said the color is that of mortar, an intentional effort on Reeling's part to use a color that appears between the bricks on the house's one wall.

Matched with a white ceiling and trim, and framing beams running along the ceiling, the effect is a contrast that brings out the teak color of the furniture.

Returning to the first floor, it's apparent that the gray shade on the third floor is yet another color within the Oriental rug.

Reeling began the process of designing his color scheme shortly after moving in, and had the process completed in about six months.

Using cardboard cutouts of the existing furniture, he placed things in ways to maximize the space, and then he mapped out the color scheme.

He never considered replacing furniture. "I like my stuff, I feel comfortable with it and I wanted it to be a part of this house," Reeling said.

The use of existing shapes and forms, as well as the colors of the Oriental rug, was a challenge for the artist, but one he feels he succeeded in overcoming.

"What I pictured when I began this process is what I see now, and that was the goal," Reeling said.

Pub Date: 12/07/97

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