"Pinch me!" said Jan Ferguson, gesturing beyond her living room window where — even under gray clouds — the magnificent waterfront of Baltimore's Inner Harbor plays host to a few gulls, boats and water taxis, and where the large grid of the neon Domino Sugars sign stands sentinel.
Jan and Ray Ferguson moved into the Ritz-Carlton Residences 18 months ago. They purchased their waterfront home for $1.9 million before it was even built.
"We visited the [site] prior to excavation when an old propeller shack was all that was left of the shipyard," Ray Ferguson said.
Because they were in at the very beginning, they were able to customize their residence right down to adding extra feet to the kitchen, changing around the master bedroom and adding a few walls where there were none for a less loftlike, homier ambience.
"There's not another floor plan like ours," said Ray Ferguson, a 70-year-old retired sales representative for laboratory equipment.
Indeed, the 2,700-square-foot layout twists and turns from the front foyer — with its own private elevator — to a long interior hall opening onto a large, bright living room, to a separate dining room, oversized kitchen, studio and guest room. A turn toward a separate wing past the living room leads to the master's suite and bath and the guest bathroom. A butler's pantry at the entrance to the home includes storage, a washing machine and dryer. A separate door from this room leads to the hallway where deliveries can be made without entering the rest of the home.
The Fergusons' two Birman cats, newly groomed and sporting tiny bells on their collars, follow their mistress from room to room, occasionally jumping onto an end table to sniff at a live and colorful flower arrangement. (Jan Ferguson, 68, owned her own business, Interior Plantscape, until selling it to her daughter-in-law.)
The formal dining room off the living area is stunning with its deep terra cotta painted walls and the centerpiece, a round drum table of tiger maple surrounded by four cream-colored leather arm chairs. Four more, placed in the living room and flanking a tiger maple buffet, complete the suite that also includes leaves that transform the table to 12 feet in diameter.
The oversized kitchen features cherry wood cabinetry, black granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
"We eat out so often that cooking [here] is an event night," said Ray Ferguson. This is as much a testimonial to the couple's worry-free lifestyle as it is tribute to area chefs.
Jan Ferguson carries a silk taupe-color swatch in her hand as she places it against the walls. "This is the color I want, but a shade lighter," and against the windows, "This is the fabric for the draperies."
Both realize there is far more decorating to do but acknowledge they are off to a good start.
"I tell Jan to make the decoration a hobby," Ray Ferguson said. "Do a little at a time."
It seems to be advice well taken, because the couple are very involved in their card clubs (his is a poker group called the Ritz Crackers), the indoor fitness center, pool and movie theater. They also entertain the grandchildren with relish.
"Want to see my favorite place?" Ray Ferguson asks.
The place is their own piece of waterfront property where they sit and watch the boats pass, view fireworks and listen to the concerts on Pier 6. They also enjoy their covered veranda, marked on either side by thick, brick columns.
After the couple's 38 years of living on the water in Arnold and raising their two boys with what Jan Ferguson calls "the boats, dogs, cats and snakes," their Ritz-Carlton residence is a continuation of that lifestyle minus the work.
"We didn't have to give up waterfront country living in order to live in the city," Ray Ferguson said.
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Making a dream home
Dream element: Ray and Jan Ferguson's Ritz-Carlton first-floor residence sits at water's edge in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. As members of the premier condominium complex off Key Highway, the couple enjoys all the amenities of a five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel along with the perks of city living. "We moved to have more fun and to entice our grandchildren to visit," Jan Ferguson said.
Design inspiration: While Jan Ferguson refers to her decor as eclectic, she also works around the theme of urban contemporary. Most of the furniture has been purchased specifically for the home and the hardwood of choice is tiger maple. Upholstery includes fabrics of leather, wool and micro-fiber.
Personal touch: Using her skills as a plant and flower designer, Jan Ferguson has filled the condominium with vases of orchids, tulips, roses and floor plants such as schefflera in hand-painted Oriental urns. Additionally, she uses an area of the home adjacent to the kitchen as her painting studio. Several of her canvases sit on a large easel there and hang throughout the house. She particularly enjoys painting seascapes and cityscapes. The water view, as well as the city skyline outside her studio window, provides inspiration.