The good life abounds atop Scarlett Place


Penthouses: The two couples who occupy the two penthouses at Scarlett Place enjoy one another's company as well as the view.

Dream home

March 30, 2003|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Dual penthouses rest atop the condominium building of Scarlett Place in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Marcia and Howard Castleman occupy one of them; Jimmy and Barbara Judd reside in the other. The couples are good friends. They enjoy one another's company and love to entertain mutual friends. It is for such fetes that the four open up the entire 14th floor.

The contrasting styles and decor in the two homes please these condominium neighbors, who became friends when Howard Castleman moved in 14 years ago.

The decoration of the shared entrance hall has been left to Jimmy Judd, who owns a shop on Baltimore's Antique Row. Louis XIV's inspiration is evident in the hall's marble-topped refectory table, the lush carpeting and textured wallpaper.

A left turn places the visitor face-to-face with Sidney, the life-size, molded-wax butler, who keeps vigil at the Castlemans' front door. Tray in hand, Sidney accepts the cards of callers, much to the delight of Marcia Castleman, who says she "picked him up" at a gallery in New York.

Modern and deco artwork plays a big role in the Castleman home, which contains 3,200 square feet.

Inside the front door, headless mannequins on stands - purchased at an antique shop and spray-painted with dark-blue enamel - flank a bench.

White walls throughout the home, together with white limestone floors, present the open effect of a modern art gallery. Bright-shaded sculptures by Jane Manus adorn the walls, all of which are curved. Curved, too, are the many maple storage units against the walls.

"Huge built-ins make apartment living easier," says Marcia Castleman, a 56-year-old former public relations manager whose interests include art and design work.

She and her 58-year-old husband have lived in the home for eight years. He, an automobile sales executive and dealer, removed the original 8-foot ceilings, creating a cathedral effect and a second level that serves as a den and wine storage area.

The home's circular layout offers views of Baltimore's northern, eastern and western skylines from every room through wide windows.

The kitchen takes center stage. A curved black granite bar winds halfway around the area, and the counter is raised above the appliances. All shelf space is concealed behind cabinets. Track lighting dominates.

"I will never build a dining room [in any house] I work on," says Marcia Castleman. "No one ever leaves the kitchen."

From the kitchen bar, the floor design showcases black leather-covered seating ensembles in the living room, a rectangular light-maple dining table and three working fireplaces made of black granite with specks of white.

Marcia Castleman considers her dream home a romantic place where her creative juices flowed.

"I would draw what I wanted, and the contractors would do it," she says.

Castleman laughs when recalling the parties she and the Judds are hosts to on New Year's Eve and July Fourth.

"Our home would be in the million-dollar bracket," Marcia Castleman says, without giving away the exact costs of purchase and renovation.

Across the hall, the Judds' design offers a 17th-century Italian sunburst on the ceiling. It sets the tone for a black marble floor and French wall tapestries.

Eight panels near the ceiling of the rotunda contain the engraved names of the interior designers (including Baltimore's Henry Johnson) who helped the Judds realize their dream home. An engraved plaque offers a welcome in Latin: Nobis Habitatio Felix, which translates to "Our happy home."

Barbara Judd, 68, is owner of the Cactus Willie's restaurant chain. She points to Baltimore sculptor Edward Berge's bronze statues and bisque gargoyles peeking from corners of the mirrored entrance.

"I have been 32 years in the antique business and have always loved the beauty of Italian Renaissance villas," says Jimmy Judd, who is in his early 70s. After purchasing it 18 years ago, Judd vowed to turn the 3,800-square-foot penthouse into a showplace for his treasures.

The designers took it from there, with red marble columns, beveled glass doors and intricate lighting to showcase his collection of paintings. The Judds say they have invested $1.5 million in the purchase, renovation and decor of the home.

"I knew where all of my works of art would be set up three years before we moved in. ... My dream is to be surrounded by art. We shut the doors and we're in Europe," Jimmy Judd says.

Of particular pride to the Judds is the villa-like patio bordering the home on the south, east and west sides. Terrace gardens of wisteria and jasmine caress cast-iron columns retrieved after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. A lighted fountain gurgles near French vintage garden tables.

Because Jimmy Judd's business often is called upon to decorate sets for locally made films such as Guarding Tess and 12 Monkeys, he and his wife have opportunities to entertain stars in their home. Placido Domingo was a particular favorite.

Yet, all guests are special to the Judds and Castlemans.

They respect each other's design style, and they relish the effect their twin dreams have on visitors.

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