Cozy home near harbor suits traveler


Collector: Peggi Powell's townhouse is a colorful showplace for her antiques and items from around the world.

Dream House

April 18, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In south Baltimore, West Street runs perpendicular to South Charles Street. At the crossroads there, depending on the direction taken, a traveler will be on West West Street or East West Street.

"You [have to] have a sense of humor about your address when you live on this street," says Peggi Powell, a 15-year resident. "I've asked people not to laugh when I give it out, but they do anyway."

Life on this street is pretty good these days, though, as homeowners smile at the recent renovation of the old Holy Cross School, where condominiums are selling for up to $600,000.

Powell, who is in her 50s and works for the Baltimore Visitor Center, paid $120,000 for her three-story brick townhouse in the fall of 1988. She spent about $30,000 more on an outdoor side deck, a second-floor deck, a new kitchen and reinforcing the east wall in her dining room.

The wall was "about to cave in and take the second floor with it," she says.

The home's first floor is 75 feet long. The double-door, tiled entrance and 9-foot ceilings provide an open space that leads to the rear of the home.

Double, floor-to-ceiling columns once defined the two 16-foot-wide front living rooms. But Powell had the columns removed, in part to accommodate an antique Kermin pastel and multicolored medallion rug that she inherited from her mother's estate. The pieces in her home are a combination of what her mother left and Powell's many years of collecting.

The two front rooms have beige walls with mauve floor and ceiling moldings. Several table lamps decorated with hanging crystal teardrops provide bright lighting. Standouts among the rooms' Queen Anne furnishings are a walnut, deco-style buffet with a glass pullout bar and a cherrywood Colonial bureau. Accent pieces in the room include an original Currier & Ives framed print and two Dresden figurines.

The dining room beyond the two living rooms is a narrower 13 feet wide because of a sally port, or side alley, separating two houses. The little alley allows for two recessed windows on the east wall looking out on a side deck that Powell and her neighbor share.

The windows in the beige dining room, which have dusty blue molding, have heavily pleated, blue satin swags over cream eyelet cafe curtains.

It is in this room, with its mahogany corner cabinet and Hepplewhite mahogany sideboard, that Powell displays an extensive collection of martini glasses. On the room's south wall, Powell had several lighted glass shelves wedged into two constructed Doric columns. The glass collection is displayed like rare museum pieces.

The martini glasses include Waterford crystal, solid silver, hand-painted glass in mosaic fashion and a crystal glass from Prague with a 2-carat garnet imbedded in a wide stem.

"Each one [of the glasses] has a story," Powell says. "Either I've bought them myself in my travels or friends have given them to me."

Carol Hirschburg, a friend and frequent visitor to the home, calls the collection "a real boon to her friends."

"We always know what to get for Peggi," she says.

South of the dining room, and perhaps the smallest space in the house, the kitchen includes a built-in side table and desk unit. Here, Powell eats light meals while watching television. Cabinets and appliances are in white, contrasting with ceramic floor tiling the color of terracotta brick.

Beyond the landing of Powell's second level, one that she refers to as her guest floor, a den treats visitors with a 19th- century-style explorers lounge. A gas fireplace is centered between built-in bookshelves.

The walls are peppered with souvenirs from her travels. They include African masks, Cambodian headdresses and puppets from Thailand. A brocaded sofa bed in floral shades of plum, tan and aqua sits at the foot of an octagonal, walnut coffee table. The guest bedroom beyond features a four-poster, cherrywood bed. The rear of the floor comprises Powell's office and a guest bathroom.

A narrow stairway leads to the third level and opens directly to a bathroom. There is no hall on this floor.

"I almost didn't buy the house because of the way the bathroom is situated," she says. "Imagine, a door at the top of the stairs turning right onto the a bath when it could have [gone] straight ahead to a bedroom."

But Powell adapted to the odd design. Her bedroom suite contains a small sitting room with smaller-scaled Victorian chairs and a sofa. The master bedroom, painted white with sea foam-colored molding, contains her mother's high mahogany bed. Beside it is a tapestry footstool.

Powell says she'll move someday and that it will be to another place in the city she so loves. Preferably, though, her new home will have a water view and be on one level.

"Eventually," she says, laughing, "I'm [going to] get tired of walking up those steps."

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