Legg Mason adviser lives in a sound investment

DREAM HOME

Payoff: A redone Federal Hill rowhouse has more than doubled in value to $850,000.

October 17, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Doug McPeters bought his Federal Hill rowhouse 10 years ago, he had plans for the circa 1850 property.

It wasn't long after the purchase that he took steps to place the home on the National Register of Historic Places. The register's approximately 78,000 listings include property, buildings and homes that are significant in American history, architecture and culture.

The brass plaque affixed to the entrance of McPeters' three-story, red-brick rowhouse indicates strict adherence to exterior restoration codes. And from the outside, passers-by can peer through floor-to-ceiling windows to see that the dining room has been furnished in the style of the Federal period.

After passing through a double-door entrance, one notes the home's many contemporary updates.

McPeters, 62, a financial adviser with Legg Mason, paid $200,000 for his Warren Avenue home. He estimates that another $200,000 was spent for updates such as air conditioning, a new gas furnace, painting, second- and third-floor remodeling and a redesigned kitchen.

A 6-by-6-foot picture window in the kitchen offers a stunning view of the backyard garden.

McPeters, a prolific cook and entertainer, said his guests often migrate to the kitchen, with its stainless steel appliances, birch cabinets and wide-planked cherry floor. Other highlights are recessed ceiling lights and a six-burner range and oven.

The kitchen's east wall is covered in stainless steel. Countertops and an island-table have marble designs. A 50-cubic-foot stainless steel and glass wine cooler sits by the refrigerator.

"We live in this room," McPeters says, walking south toward the central portion of the first floor, where he and his wife, Joy, have fashioned their colorful downstairs den, which also serves as the living room. Joy McPeters, 35, is chief executive officer of an online concierge service for boaters.

In the den, molding painted white frames walls in a soft nutmeg shade. A worn taupe leather sofa and loveseat hug the south and east walls. They sit on a loomed, Southwest-inspired rug of maroon, beige and blue.

The home's original pine floors coordinate with an English pine, four-door armoire on the north wall, which houses an entertainment unit. The fireplace on the west wall features a hearth of black slate painted to resemble marble. A stove insert provides heat. Folk sculptures, masks from Africa and leopard-skin throw pillows are scattered about the room.

South of the den, a hallway separates the back of the house from the front hall and the dining room. A winding wooden staircase rises to the top two stories of the home.

The second-floor landing opens to a study where McPeters used mahogany panels on the walls. Triple arches have been cut into the north wall. Within the arches are built-in bookcases and shelves that contain books, camera equipment and CDs. The room's three front windows have white plantation blinds. A bright chintz sofa and loveseat sit on a Berber carpet.

Noting that all of the work in this room was done when he was single, McPeters points out the built-in bookshelves on the west wall, which display numerous family photographs and memorabilia. McPeters and his wife have been married for five years.

At the rear of the second floor is a guest room with white furniture and peach-colored walls. A guest bathroom and a combination laundry and exercise room complete this level.

The laundry-exercise room has a window that provides an overhead view of the rear garden, with its 50-foot-long blue-stone patio and a flower trellis that shelters lawn furniture and a fish pond.

The staircase leads to a third-floor garret that was once a child's playroom. It has been converted to a master suite and bathroom. A 10-by-8-foot glass-block unit forms the bathroom wall. There, double sinks rest inside granite countertops that sit on a base of stainless steel that was fabricated in Baltimore. Two large round mirrors hang over the sinks, suspended from the ceiling with metal boat lifelines. A 6-by-3-foot marble shower dominates the east wall.

The bedroom portion of the suite has a partial cathedral ceiling that rises to three ventilation units above the room's three vertical windows. The room's pine floor has been whitewashed and given a distressed look. A stainless-steel king-size bed is covered in a white comforter. Mirrored closets cover the west wall, and a large zebra-skin rug rests on the floor.

"I love [the McPeters'] third floor," says friend and neighbor Sheryl Bennett. "There is something very peaceful about the whitewashed floors and the natural lighting."

Back in the downstairs dining room, with its Chinese red walls, Oriental prints in gilt frames and 10-foot-long pecan table, McPeters talks about his neighborhood, the convenience of city living and the area's rapid price appreciation. His home recently was appraised at $850,000.

"We'll probably always have this place," he says. "I don't plan to stop working and living here; I can walk to work."

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