When Agnes and Leroy Hawthorne grew weary of having grass to cut, snow to shovel and stairs to climb at their Northeast Baltimore home, the retired Baltimore County teachers thought the time was right for a permanent vacation spot.
They headed north toward Cockeysville to High View at Hunt Valley, where condo living and its multiple amenities suited their needs perfectly.
"I have not missed my house at all," Agnes Hawthorne said. "When we first moved, people asked how we could live in one house for 35 years and not miss it, [but] the past is the past."
The present and future were what the couple thought about. One-floor living was necessary for the mobility of Leroy Hawthorne, who has Parkinson's disease.
Beyond a marbled entrance lobby and several common rooms for the residents, the Hawthornes' second-floor condominium features an open, circular layout with two wings of bedrooms and baths surrounding a living room, dining room and kitchen.
Their front door opens onto a living room dominated by a shiny black baby grand piano set in front of a window dressed in voile drapes with an alternating cream and green wave design.
Aware of the size difference between their former Colonial-style home and the condo, which they bought 18 months ago, Agnes Hawthorne purchased many pieces to fit the condo's scale. In the living room, she kept her traditional sofa, upholstered in a soft floral design, but uses only one of two Queen Anne-styled chairs in front of a corner gas fireplace that opens onto the living room and dining room. She kept her original buffet in the dining room but purchased a contemporary, glass-topped walnut dining table with chairs.
"We're content here," she says, standing on the deck overlooking the rural landscape. "It's like [being in] a hotel on vacation."
Dream element: : Five-star hotel "feel." The Hawthornes thoroughly enjoy the on-site gym, coffee shop, library and business center. A concierge announces visitors and is at their service for any number of requests.
Design inspiration: : Artwork. While Agnes Hawthorne contemplates whether to paint the white walls, she has hung colorful paintings and prints throughout the three-bedroom home. In many cases, the paintings have influenced the room's decor, such as in the master bathroom, where the bright oranges of a contemporary painting inspired orange towels and bath accessories.
Surprise feature: : A jazzy den. A former musician and music teacher, Leroy Hawthorne has a music room filled with memorabilia, books and framed charcoal pictures of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and other jazz artists.
Personal touch: : Remembering family. In addition to photos of her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, Agnes Hawthorne displays framed pictures of her sisters, nieces and nephews throughout the home.
Design tip: : Make rooms appear larger by using glass-topped tables which show more floor space.