A perch over Baltimore


Penthouse: A couple fond of space master the switch from a large home into an elegant condominium it has 3,892 square feet. It also has a panoramic view of downtown.

April 04, 1999|By Charles Cohen | Charles Cohen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Warren and Deloris Hobbs may have orchestrated the perfect move.

Somehow they were able to take a furnished large home in Guilford and fit everything into a one-floor penthouse condominium in the Strathmore Tower Condominium on Park Heights Avenue.

Not only have the Hobbses mastered the switch in space, but their furniture looks as if it was hand-picked for their unique perch over Baltimore.

A large buffet table occupies a southern window. A set of white Federal sofas accent a sunny living room, a Lalique glass flower sits on an end table. It's as if the place was designed for them.

But the last time a designer was at work on the premises was in 1968, when the original owners bought the condo. Much of the design has been preserved. From the Italian upholstered bedroom walls to the marble foyer to the closets hidden behind pickled oak paneling, the place has a touch of swank.

`Wanted to downsize'

The home could easily have been featured in a 1960s copy of Esquire, which did more for the age of lounge than anything else. Ironically, the place is just in time for the lounge resurgence.

But the Hobbses weren't so much interested in being in vogue as they were looking for comfort, a condo that offered the space of their 4,100-square-foot home.

What they came up with was the 3,892-square-foot condominium with a panoramic view of downtown that seemingly towers over wooded Northwest Baltimore. The condominium is actually the size of 2 1/2 units that had been merged.

"We wanted to downsize," Warren Hobbs said.

Downsizing is a relative term.

While the Hobbses have gone from seven bedrooms to three when they moved in November 1996, they now have 16 closets and 5 1/2 bathrooms. There also are dressing rooms, a cozy sitting room off the kitchen, a den and a wall of Chinese hand-painted wallpaper installed to screen the dining room.

Warren Hobbs, who has been a Realtor since retiring in 1995 as a human resource manager for the Social Security Administration, and his wife, a retired city school adult education administrator, thought there must be a mistake in the listing. No place has three bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms! But this unit did.

Initially the Hobbses rejected the condo.

"A lot had been done initially, but it had declined in terms of maintenance," Warren Hobbs said. In particular, water damage had loosened the herringbone walnut floor, one of the more stunning details in the condo.

After looking at other condominiums in Cross Keys and Arlington Park Condominiums, the couple couldn't find an alternative. No place had the love of detail, the oval-shaped entrance area, gold-washed fixtures, crystal faucets and elegant doors into the living room.

"I guess we saw the possibilities," Warren Hobbs said.

Then the Hobbses found the name of The H. Chambers Co., a Baltimore design and architectural firm, on one of the drapes and figured they did the original work on the condominium. After tracking down the designer, who revisited the unit, the couple decided to stay true as much as they could to the original design.

"We were trying to restore it to its original elegance," Warren Hobbs said of the unit that they bought for $90,000. "I don't think we could improve on the floor plans. The plan works, and some of the features are, as such, you would do more damage to the unit."

The Hobbses had their work cut out for them.

Saving the floor where each herringbone piece is the thickness of a telephone book wasn't going to be easy. The floor had to be re-glued. They put new floors in the bedrooms and recarpeted the bedrooms.

Today, the Hobbses walk around their condo with an air of disbelief. Not only do they have a luxurious amount of space, but they have two parking spots in a garage, two balconies and. most importantly, they still live within the city -- barely.

"We're city people," Warren Hobbs said. "We're natives. we wanted to be near our other relatives."

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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