Shop and home in nifty union

Mount Vernon: Chris Psoras says she feels safe and comfortable living downtown right above her business.

December 21, 2003|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Chris Psoras' lifestyle is reminiscent of the "mom and pop" businesses of earlier decades.

Her 8,000-square-foot building in Mount Vernon houses both her home and floral business.

The red brick, 150-year-old Federal style structure is dressed for the holidays. On each of the windows facing Cathedral Street, there are large wreaths of fresh greenery, laced with lavender bows and dotted with bright gold balls.

From the street-level entrance, Psoras' Flowers by Chris shop includes garlands and poinsettias in deep red, white and pink. A soothing blend of light gray walls and white columns are capped by a 25-foot gray tin ceiling.

After a 14-year residency at the Harbor Court Hotel, Psoras purchased the shop and its upstairs living space in November 1998 for $300,000. She started the business 25 years ago after the death of her husband, George.

"I love being [downtown] where I'm right here with my business, and I feel safe and comfortable," says Psoras, 60, who rents out another home in northern Baltimore County.

The second level of the three-story building comprises an office area, six workstations and an employee bath. The northern walls boast large windows where the building no longer connects with the one next door.

Heading toward the front of this level, a few steps lead to Psoras' kitchen. She points out that a great portion of the approximate $100,000 spent on remodeling went into this room. She gladly shares the area with her employees, laughingly referring to it as "our associates' lounge."

Here, she has chosen light birch cabinets and flooring that offer delightful contrasts to the mauve wainscoting. Orchids and cala lilies rest on a black wrought iron table with matching chairs. An overstuffed sofa rests beneath a TV hung on the wall, as well as a cozy window seat piled high with throw pillows.

Down the hall is a wedding room that includes white art form columns, china place settings on brocade tablecloths and brass candlesticks of every length. Clients use the room to plan weddings and other events. The space includes three windows with white wood shutters. Psoras also uses the area as a private office and retreat.

Up a white wooden staircase with heavy spindle posts, the third-floor landing opens directly to her spa. In an area approximately 20 feet by 25 feet, a white marble fireplace lords over a Jacuzzi.

Psoras' bedroom, facing west (and the front of the building), offers the look and feel of an Impressionist painting. She has been consistent here with her white shutter window treatments, open to the afternoon sun, which bounces light onto her lemon-colored walls. Her king-size bed takes center stage in this boudoir, dressed in a yellow chenille spread and crowned with a pewter headboard of French deco style. An art nouveau, white microfiber sofa sits diagonally to a tufted side chair in light cocoa.

It is the only room in the house without a splash of her signature color, purple.

Friend and employee Gail Wessel notes that in bad weather, Psoras often invites her workers to stay the night.

"She has made [the house] warm and inviting for all of us," Wessel says.

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