Baltimore's "Believe" campaign came just after Amy Langrehr began a search for a home in the city.
The 37-year-old had a few strong beliefs about city life herself: the importance of investing in homeownership and patronizing its small businesses. One belief she had doubts about, however, was her ability to afford a home of her own there.
In 2001, Langrehr followed her beliefs to Hampden, a neighborhood she frequented that suited her funky sensibilities.
She paid $81,500 for the 1,450- square-foot red brick townhouse and has spent less than $500 on minor upgrades such as paint and a new kitchen floor. She is glad she made the move when she did, as property values are beginning to climb.
"I never thought I could own my own home," Langrehr says. "I always liked Hampden and felt like it was an up-and-coming neighborhood. This house was in such good shape I took the plunge."
The home's interior reflects Langrehr's personality and her personal accessibility to Baltimore's arts scene. For the past 12 years, she has worked in development for various nonprofits, and now is director of the annual fund at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work commute is seven minutes.
Original artwork throughout her home - much of it gifts from friends - mixes comfortably with eclectic antiques, architectural elements and inexpensive pieces from IKEA and Target.
"I don't have a big budget, so I make careful choices," Langrehr says.
The overall feel in the home is minimalist funky, with warm touches of red throughout. In the entrance hall, a marble-topped Victorian side table sits beneath an original art piece from a friend. Hardwood inlaid oak floors begin here and are exposed in all rooms except the kitchen and stairs.
"My dog Molly needs some help getting upstairs, so I recarpeted the stairs," Langrehr says.
The center hallway leads to the kitchen, an open, airy space made larger by a previous homeowner's removal of the wall between the dining room and kitchen. In its place, a breakfast counter has comfortable room for two. Adjacent to the counter, a double-wide stainless sink faces the dining room - a plus when entertaining guests.
To brighten the kitchen, Langrehr installed yellow and white checkerboard flooring. White walls contrast with the Williamsburg blue door and trim, a color that once covered most of the trim in the house.
"It was all country crafts and that blue color throughout," Langrehr says. "This is the only room where I kept it."
She kept the color to highlight the stained-glass panel made by a friend. It hangs over the back-door transom.
The centerpiece of the dining room is a rectangular oak table handmade by Langrehr's cousin, Paul Muller, from a dismantled old barn in Westminster. A bamboo runner across the table top keeps the look sleek and clean. Red, slat-backed chairs from IKEA provide seating, as well as two other mismatched old chairs, one painted a bright orange. A long wall displays "vintage" European posters purchased at Target that are two of her favorite prints.
A credenza in the room - a castoff from Friends School where she once worked - has a second life as a buffet surface for meals when Langrehr is host to her supper club or entertains her large extended family.
"One of the reasons I was so excited about having my house was that I finally got a turn to host Christmas," she says. "Being the youngest, that was a big thing for me."
At the front of the house, the living room is painted khaki with bright white trim. An original painting by friend Edda Jakab takes center stage, its vibrant colors playing off small accent pieces in the room. A handmade red-fringed lampshade - also a gift from a friend - tops a floor lamp. Overstuffed taupe suede and brown leather upholstered pieces supply comfortable seating. Below the painting is a low, red metal table from IKEA. Its sleek lines contrast nicely with Langrehr's whimsical placement of an old window shutter behind a nearby green antique table.
Clustered below the window are colorful framed photos of family and friends. Photos, many in black and white, are found in nearly every room. Upstairs, the three bedrooms have unusual French doors. Their glass panes give an open feel to the small hallway.
The bedroom at the top of the stairs is Langrehr's office. Here, an old door given to her by a relative is given new life as a desk, held up by two sawhorses.
"I'd say my favorite room has to be my office. The shelves in here have mementos from travel, gifts from friends and some great family photos," she says.
A large print of a red orchid splashes color across the warm yellow walls, and soft light filters through sheer curtains.