Bringing out the character of an old home


Renovation: A Federal Hill man adds new wood, color and textures to his house and opens it up for natural light.

October 31, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Kerry Jones paid $260,000 for his Federal Hill townhouse in March 2003, he wasn't entirely sure he was getting a bargain.

Nevertheless, he remained optimistic. "I saw that the house had potential in its raw form," says Jones, a 38-year-old executive director for Erickson Retirement Community in Silver Spring. "There was character. ... I just had to find ways to bring it out."

Jones hired an architect and spent about $120,000 improving the three-story home built in 1901. The upgrades to his "diamond in the rough" include pine wood flooring, a powder room addition and renovating two full bathrooms and the kitchen.

From the front door, which features a stained-glass transom, the first-floor open layout provides a view to the rear of the structure. Exposed brick on the east walls of the living and dining rooms coordinate with the faux-finish paint on the west and north walls.

"In terms of style and textures, I had a good sense of what I wanted," says Jones, explaining that the faux finish - called Antique Leather - is by Ralph Lauren, and resembles a beige-olive tone. Four-inch white molding has been placed where walls meet the pine floors.

A leather, pub-like sofa and matching chair, both in chocolate brown, accompany an easy chair with a muted floral print. This suite is grouped along the east and south walls of the room facing a fireplace of dark marble. (A future project for Jones will be to open the hearth, which has long been closed.)

Over the fireplace, a 3-foot- by-2-foot mirror reflects a cast-iron tricycle sculpture on the mantel and a pine armoire along the east wall leading to the dining room.

There, the maple dining room table has ladder-back chairs. A wrought-iron chandelier with bulbs covered in burgundy silk shades casts soft light on the smooth tabletop.

Natural light streams through a window on the southwestern wall offering a view of the tiny walkway and deck area that Jones shares with his neighbor.

Many of Baltimore's old rowhouses are joined at the front portion of their upper floors. At ground level, a gate between two houses opens to a narrow alley, or sally port, which in turn leads to a shared courtyard behind the homes. In addition to providing a side entrance for each house, the second and third levels get light from windows along one side.

"Whatever part [of the house] I could open up to the light, I did," Jones says, pointing out the French doors at his side entrance.

His kitchen, which runs from the side entrance to the rear of the house, is painted in a shade called Daisy Yellow. Three windows along the west wall have white plantation blinds. White kitchen cabinets on the east wall boast shiny stainless steel pulls. The dishwasher and refrigerator are fronted with the same white wood as the cabinets. A stainless steel stove and solid maple countertops provide contrast.

Berber carpeting covers the steps to the second and third floors. A den is at the rear of the second level where, through purple-curtained double doors, a 12-foot-by-10-foot wood deck looks over neighborhood rooftops.

Halfway down the hall, north of the den, a green glow emanates from the frosted glass of double doors. Behind the doors, a large bathroom shines in lime green paint. It has a white porcelain claw-foot tub and tall pedestal sink.

During the renovation, when Jones and his contractor tore out the west wall, they discovered a brick fireplace. It adds another dimensional splash of color to the bathroom.

Steve Hepting, Jones' boarder, occupies the front room of the second level. He acknowledges a busy life that does not allow much time at the house, but adds, "I love what Kerry has done with the place, especially the color choices for the walls." A neutral shade of almond has been used on the hallways and rooms of both levels.

Both bedrooms feature a west wall of exposed brick.

Jones' room, which is on the third level, has a vaulted ceiling. His bedroom suite includes large cherry pieces and a wrought-iron bed. The master bathroom on this level is Jones' second-favorite room after the kitchen. Here, sky blue walls are muted with a whitewash overlay. Glass block separates the sink and commode from a shower stall. The floor is covered with marble blocks in natural tones.

"The process of discovering the house was really fun, of seeing the beauty underneath it all," Jones says. "I appreciate my contractor's eye for detail."

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