A mix of old, new


Baltimore house blends traditional with contemporary

May 16, 2008|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to the Sun

Five years ago, a South Baltimore property on Jackson Street was a vacant lot next to a bar and littered with bottles and debris.

Andy Wertlinger and his wife, Gina, living across the street at the time, saw great potential when they purchased the corner lot from the city in March 2003 for $20,000.

Unsure of the next step of what to do with the 15-by-107-foot site, the Wertlingers turned to local architect and designer Richard Polan. What he and builder Eric Wakefield gave them is today a dream home that the Wertlingers say prompts passers-by to stop, stare and point.

FOR THE RECORD - The surname of the owners of the Dream Home featured in Friday's editions was misspelled. Their correct name is Weltlinger. In addition, Gina Weltlinger's occupation was mischaracterized. She is a manager's assistant at Merrill Lynch.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"We had a budget, a [bank] loan of $425,000," said Andy Wertlinger, a 33-year-old financial adviser for Merrill Lynch. "We gave the builder that money and Rich's blueprints."

Construction began in early 2004.

"The most important thing was to keep the home within the character of the rest of the homes in the neighborhood," added Gina Wertlinger, 36, a manager at Merrill Lynch.

That meant a brick exterior and, at Polan's suggestion, the house was oriented to face the side street, making for a wide (77 feet) and shallow (15 feet) home rather than the more traditional narrow and deep city rowhouse.

Inside the entrance, a small foyer provides closet space and a welcome that does not immediately intrude into the living room at the west end of the home.

An oak staircase with open risers and wrought-iron spindles stands against the back wall of salvaged brick, striking a contemporary note that's borne out by the open interior. To one side is the kitchen, with cream-finished wood cabinets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and backsplashes in shades of brown. More dramatic is the Brazilian cherrywood flooring throughout the first level.

Beyond the kitchen, and an open dining room yet to be furnished, is a great room, where a blend of contemporary and traditional design interacts to produce a gracious, yet tropical feel. Here in an area rising two stories high, windows set the mood - a large Palladian window crowns French doors leading to a patio, while two windows high on the room's west wall open onto the second-floor master bedroom.

A gas fireplace sits in one corner, its mantel fashioned from an old beam taken from a tobacco barn. Warm colors define the room - a Dijon mustard shade below a chair rail and soft cream above it to the 20-foot ceiling.

The couple estimate they've spent about $100,000 on the home's furnishings, window treatments (mainly shutters and blinds), appliances and electrical fixtures. A full basement is a work in progress where Andy Wertlinger plans a third bedroom and bath.

The second level features two bedrooms, one at each end, and two baths. The hallway separating the rooms is filled with closet space and a laundry room.

The Wertlingers' third level is the home's piece de resistance. A vinyl-sided, cupola-like structure, complete with bar and sink area, perches on the roof with windows on all four sides overlooking the Inner Harbor. An outside deck looks more like a patio with its poured concrete flooring designed to resemble blue stone. Wrought iron patio furniture graces the space from which the couple can wave to their neighbors, many of whom have wooden decks atop their houses.

The Wertlingers agree that one can never tell from the narrow streets of South Baltimore what exactly lies atop the rehabilitated houses.

"On a nice day we sit up here, the sun comes up, we get bagels and think about how fortunate we are," Gina Wertlinger said.

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