First things first: Remove all the wallpaper


December 13, 2008|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Baltimore Sun

In the small foyer of Deni Miller and Chris Morrone's Canton rowhouse, it is impossible to take in the scene all at once. Lemon-yellow walls pop under bright, recessed lighting. Several mirrors reflect photographs on the walls opposite them. Shadow boxes and curio cabinets filled with treasures create the appearance of a well-organized, high-end second-hand shop.

It is clear the house has taken on the lightheartedness of its occupants, who are eager to show it off.

Miller and Morrone are the third owners of the two-story, 12-foot-by-40-foot brick house, which they purchased in 2001 for $97,500.

"We scraped wallpaper for months after we moved in," Miller said. "It was all over the house. There was wallpaper over wallpaper."

Undaunted, the couple set about making the house their own.

They estimate they spent $80,000 to replace kitchen appliances, install new cabinets and granite counter tops, place recessed lighting into 9 1/2 -foot ceilings, add a double-door hall closet and replace bathroom flooring.

The decorating was left to Miller.

"She paints, she sews, she's extremely crafty," said Morrone, clearly proud of his wife's accomplishments.

He points out Miller's homemade red taffeta curtains, draped elegantly on both the front living room window and the back kitchen window, a conscious effort, Miller said, to tie both large rooms together.

Living room furniture includes a Duncan Phyfe sofa from Miller's aunt, a mahogany secretary that belonged to her grandmother and her great-grandmother's oak bureau. There is hardly an area or a piece of wall that isn't decorated in the open first floor.

On the second floor, two bedrooms - one in the front of the house and one in the rear - are separated by the house's only bathroom. Here, Morrone's handiwork is evident in the aqua walls, wainscoting and black-and-white porcelain floor tiles. Miller's touch is present on the room's claw-foot tub, the outside of which she painted cherry red.

"I know there's a lot to take in," Miller said of her treasure-filled house. "I'm a collector and I like to display things."

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making the house their own

* Brighten up and open up small areas with bright colors. Deni Miller and Chris Morrone removed French doors that separated their living room from the dining room. They also took out the dark wallpaper and chose white kitchen cabinets over dark wood.

* Personalize rooms with photographs and personal belongings. Family pictures hang throughout the couple's house, along with treasures showcased in shadow boxes and on shelves.

* Be aware of scaling the furniture to the home's dimensions. All of the couple's furniture - chairs, sofa and tables - are on legs, up off the floor. This provides more visual space, the couple say.

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