On July 4, 2002, Joe and Anne Grigg declared their independence from suburban living and moved into their HarborView town home off Key Highway.
"I want to live downtown!" Joe Grigg remembered saying months before the move.
The couple had signed a contract for a four-story, then-unbuilt, house in 1999, thinking it would be a good investment, and rented it out for a year after it was finished.
Friends and family thought they were crazy to trade their Timonium Colonial on 3 1/2 acres for a city townhouse, said Joe Grigg, a 60-year-old employee of a shipping container company.
But he had at least one good reason. "I got sick of mowing the lawn," Grigg said.
The couple paid $525,000 for their brick home of four full stories plus rooftop deck.
"We bought the house with the basics," said Anne Grigg, a 62-year-old dental hygienist. "White cabinets and low-grade carpeting." Living with the basics for a while, the couple knew what they wanted to do and began work on the upgrades that would eventually cost $85,000.
The main renovations included a total kitchen makeover and installation of solid cherry wood flooring throughout the second, third and fourth levels. (The home's ground level houses a garage with entrance to a foyer, and guest suite with bathroom. A door in the bedroom opens onto the backyard, filled with flowering bushes and a path to a man-made lake with fountain. The living area is on the second level.)
"I don't cook," Anne Grigg said matter-of-factly, "so Joe picked [everything] out for the kitchen."
Her husband, the culinary wizard, picked out top-of-the-line appliances for his dream kitchen which include a Sub-Zero stainless steel refrigerator and a Wolfe commercial cooktop, complete with barbecue and overhead exhaust unit. Forty-two-inch-high, variegated cherry cabinets topped with black countertops snuggle the appliances.
Across from the kitchen, the Griggs' family room carries over the variegated cherry cabinets surrounding a plasma TV on the south wall. Along with a corner fireplace with black granite hearth, a black leather easy chair and pub-style red leather sofa encourage comfortable reading and TV viewing. Three large dog beds offer peaceful respite for the couple's 13-year-old miniature schnauzer, Willi.
A patio at the rear is accessible off the kitchen, affording an elevated garden and lake view.
The front of the home's second floor is open and decorated in deco-modern, with neutral woodwork and upholstery designed to emphasize the hardwood flooring.
A highly lacquered, Mission-style dining suite sits under a tray ceiling. The living room features two occasional chairs, walnut framed with light suede upholstery, and a full, kidney-shaped sofa of light satin. Three French doors topped with arched transoms lead to a narrow railed-in balcony.
Anne Grigg's whimsical side is illustrated in a collection of miniature giraffes. These knickknacks are found on a ledge behind the staircase railing, on shelves and over lamps. Searching for them becomes a fun game, like objects hidden in a larger picture.
The third and fourth floors of the home consist of a master bedroom and bath, an office, two bedrooms for the couple's grown sons and an unfinished recreation room that she contends "we'll eventually get to."
Up another level, a small room leads to a heart-stopping roof deck, built three-quarters around its periphery. It is here that the couple enjoy the harbor and buildings of the city they love.
When asked about the ups and downs of multistory living, Joe Grigg laughed, "The stairs keep us thin!"
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