When children grow up and leave home, many parents decide to do the same. For empty-nesters Laurie and Robert Weitz, the decision to start over has been a positive one.
The self-employed couple, ready for a change from suburban Lutherville, headed south toward Baltimore's Inner Harbor, where they found Federal Place, a development of 26 five-story brick townhouses overlooking Key Highway.
"We wanted to downsize [and] enjoy a city lifestyle," said 54-year-old Laurie Weitz. "We wanted to be able to walk to restaurants and the stadium."
And so the couple bought one of the townhouses at a price in the low $700,000s and moved in last June. Laurie Seitz noted that they purchased a finished product and brought very little from the old house, adding, "We lived here awhile before we decided what we needed and didn't need."
At 3,000 square feet of interior living space under 10-foot ceilings, the home has a front entrance that opens to a foyer, off which sit a coat closet, garage access and an office. The second level contains the couple's kitchen and combination living room and dining room. Floors there are oak, as is the staircase to the third level.
From the kitchen windows, the view of the bright red Domino Sugar sign, a Baltimore harbor landmark, casts a warm neon glow at night onto cabinets of deep cherry wood, granite counters and stainless-steel appliances.
The kitchen walls' soft yellow paint serves as backdrop to colorful paintings and prints with the occasional surprise of whimsy in the form of a large ceramic frog over a doorway and a hanging mobile of dolls with umbrellas.
The living room - Laurie Weitz's favorite in the house - features brightly upholstered traditional furniture set against yellow walls with wide ceiling molding painted white. White built-in bookcases flank a marble fireplace with a carved wooden mantle.
The third floor consists of two bedrooms, the Weitz family photo gallery along the curved walls of the hallway, a media room and laundry room.
The fourth-floor master suite contains a wet bar in the front room and a large bathroom complete with a raised marble tub set under a window of glass block. A resin bas-relief of a woman reclining on a sofa in front of a window and cityscape hangs directly over the tub for a splash of deco design.
From the fifth level's rooftop room filled with windows, the door opens onto a deck the length and width of the house.
Comfortable outdoor furniture of wrought iron with plump cushions on the chairs sits amid urns of multicolored annuals.
"We eat on the deck all of the time," Laurie Weitz said. "We love to cook and we love to entertain."
Making a dream home
Dream element:: Built on a hill off Key Highway in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the Weitzes' house affords stunning views of the city, especially on the fifth-story deck with its panoramic vista of the downtown skyline and the busy waterfront.
Design inspiration:: Laurie Weitz, with the help of an interior designer, chose traditional furniture, elegant but comfortable, in colors that would exude a light and airy feel.
Surprise feature:: What appears to be a coat closet at the ground foyer level is actually an elevator to each floor of the next four levels. At the rooftop, a small wheelhouse-type structure opens onto the outdoor deck.
Personal touch:: In addition to a home full of collected artwork, the Weitzes have made wall galleries of the upstairs halls featuring painted portraits and photos of family members. Their three grown boys - Brian, Scott and Paul - are shown as young children and also in formal portraits commemorating their bar mitzvahs.