From rags to richer living


Converted: A former rag factory makes a grand home in Canton.

August 01, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jeffrey Rogers' friends are amazed at his architectural vision and creativity. A longtime chum, Muffie Rollins, has become a great admirer of that talent.

"When I first saw [his] warehouse, I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to live there," she remembers. "It was just a shell. ... I couldn't envision it as a home."

But Rogers could.

A 47-year-old real estate developer, he purchased a 19th- century Canton warehouse (once a rag factory) for $195,000. That was in May 2002. His intention was to rehabilitate the 3,600-square-foot brick building and put it on the market.

"I basically had just walls to work with, and some plywood bins where the rags were once stored," Rogers recalls. "But I had an idea of what it would look like."

Rogers hired an architect and draftsman to put a practical spin on his ideas. Nine months, a third story and $275,000 later, he moved into the property he never sold.

The third story of the factory-turned-home is not visible from the street. Rogers explains that this deliberate design feature allowed him to receive state historical credits toward accurate restoration.

Facing west, the home's facade consists of cleaned red brick, a ground-level entrance and a double-door, two-car garage. The second level of the structure's 27-foot width is composed of four windows. All of the exterior trim work is done in a shade of "Baltimore green," which is slightly lighter than aqua.

The front door opens to a brightly lighted room that has a cherry red painted steel beam along the ceiling. A switchback staircase, which shifts right to left after six steps, accommodates the small space. It leads to the second level, the heart of the home and its main living space.

The front, or western end, of this level was designed as a living, dining and kitchen area. Easily half of the home's second floor, the total living space is approximately 30 feet deep. Exposed brick walls on the north and south sides, as well as 12-foot ceilings at the highest point, allow for a feeling of loft-like spaciousness.

"When I moved [from a Phoenix, Md., home on 1 1/2 acres], I didn't want anything confining," notes Rogers, who is pleased with what he calls the "rustic/homey/retro" look of the space.

Track halogen lighting hangs on four of eight exposed ceiling beams, bouncing subtle light spots onto irregular length flooring of Douglas fir. A collection of old field tools - a pitchfork, hoe, edger, even a putter from the early 1900s - hangs on the brick walls.

Rita Bender, a Millersville interior decorator, helped with the design and furniture choices. An L-shaped sofa of olive tweed-like fabric occupies the south wall. End tables, a coffee table and a library table were made of leftover beams from the restoration work. Rogers' 7-by-4-foot dining room table is partially constructed of heart pine boards and rests on forged iron legs. The rustic look of the area is tempered by the west wall, painted a Nantucket gray, with rose-colored shades that coordinate with the exposed brick and allow for soft, filtered light.

East of the living and dining areas, the kitchen reflects Rogers' choices. Oak cabinets with hickory insets hang above green granite counters, while an island counter boasts white-flecked Corian, known as Tumbled Glass. Stainless-steel appliances and a lighted pantry complete a sleek look.

"I like to keep things neat," Rogers says. "I can clean anything for you."

Beyond the stairwell, a guest bath showcases an 11-foot ceiling, gray-purple walls, black-baked enamel fixtures and a claw-foot tub left over from one of Rogers' previous jobs.

At the rear of the second level, a hallway, featuring a family photo gallery, leads to a guest bedroom and Rogers' 12-by- 17-foot office.

Tucked behind the central staircase, a 3-by-3-foot elevator provides access to all three levels.

The 27-by-35-foot third level houses the master suite. Rogers chose a country hickory-wood bedroom set, which is punctuated with big knots. Painted a pale blue, the walls are accented with framed watercolor paintings of scenes from Rogers' world travels. A master bath is brightly done in light tumbled marble.

East of the master suite, a staircase leads to a 25-by-25-foot roof deck. This fenced party area features a wet bar with wrought iron, high-backed stools.

The rear of Rogers' first level is a basement three-quarters underground. Built atop concrete, and once the area where rag bundles were stored, it is now a 26-by-14-foot recreation room. Painted a Sierra tan, the room is a work in progress but, Rogers says, is a great place for the kids of his friends to hang out - especially with an electronic Pop-a-Shot basketball hoop.

"Jeffrey recently hosted our high school reunion at his house," Rollins says. "Everyone was astounded at what he did with the place. I couldn't get over the way he worked around those [ceiling] beams."

Rogers, a bachelor, is modest about his achievement. While proud of the finished product, he is just happy to be in the city, where he can "open my door and walk out to a restaurant."

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