Dream home: Top of the world

Couple enjoys stunning views from penthouse condo in Towson

  • Chris Hergenroeder in the formal living room of her dream home.
Chris Hergenroeder in the formal living room of her dream home. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina…)
September 05, 2010|By Marie Marciano Gullard, Special to The Baltimore Sun

From a lobby filled with mirrors, marble and mounted country landscapes, an elevator transports guests of Chris and John Hergenroeder to the 28th floor, the couple's penthouse residence in Towson's Ridgely Condominiums.

Richly carved mahogany double doors open onto a space filled with mirrors, black marble flooring, white carpets and interior décor reminiscent of a 1930s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers movie, complete with an Upper East Side Manhattan ambience.

While the couple has lived, as they say, "on top of the world" since their marriage 12 years ago, Chris Hergenroeder has actually been a resident of the high-rise since its opening in 1977. The 69-year-old former owner of the Plaza Modeling Agency and the Baltimore Academy of Acting and Modeling rented a fifth-floor unit with her mother for five years before moving on her own to the 17th floor and then the 21st floor.

Climbing ever onward and upward, she and her boyfriend settled on the 28th floor, a grand space of two penthouses combined into one residence, in 1998. They married a month later and began their life together in the clouds — on some overcast days, quite literally.

The Hergenroeders paid $243,000 for their "double-wide" penthouse of almost 3,000-square feet. Rooms are spacious and consist of two full baths, a bedroom suite, den and kitchen, as well as a formal living room and dining room that seats 12 comfortably.

John Hergenroeder, a 70-year-old real estate executive for the state of Maryland, estimates that the couple spent nearly $80,000 in improvements, including new kitchen appliances, new furniture, custom-built bookshelves for the den and porcelain tiling and landscaping on two balconies — one facing north-northeast and the other south-southeast.

A deck off the living room is furnished with wrought-iron furniture, arborvitate, potted azaleas and hydrangeas, climbing mandevilla and a waterfall — complete with fish and a host of flora.

"On the 4th of July we saw fireworks from all the major communities – Arbutus, downtown, Loch Raven and Oregon Ridge," said John Hergenroeder, less boastful than incredulous.

The stunning view from the balcony elicits both pleasure and fear for some guests. "We have friends that will not go to the edge. Better to [look] out than down," said Chris Hergenroeder.

She says that her home, with its impeccable interior of contemporary Art Deco design, is the perfect place for people who like to entertain and do not have children. A white tone-on-tone semicircular sofa sits beneath two gold and black Erte framed pieces. Multiple salmon-colored pillows rest on the sofa, and the color is a recurrent motif throughout the home.

An eclectic mix of furnishings mark the home's interior. An excellent example is an inherited Duncan Fife mahogany desk in the living room set opposite a beveled glass cabinet displaying 11-inch Erte figurines, a Swarovski crystal menagerie, and a child's tea set brought over to America from Chris Hergenroeder's Austrian-born mother.

"The dining room is my favorite place, [and] it was designed by John," Chris Hergenroeder said.

The room, she explained, began with a rug her husband had made to order, with a dogwood design embedded in the thick plush wool. Painted dogwood branches and flowers were carried over onto the wall by a muralist, while an entire wall of mirrors reflects mirrored vertical blinds on two windows. A chandelier of crystal icicles hangs over a glass table-top 108 inches in length that rests on a clear Plexiglas double pedestal. An antique gold-finished buffet table and cabinet display Lenox china and Waterford crystal stemware.

"I was brought up from the age of 5 learning how to set a formal table," said Chris Hergenroeder, who loves having dinner parties where she can entertain her friends from her kitchen or take them to one of the patios. The balcony that faces south gets the most gasps from her guests, with views of the Key Bridge and Domino Sugar sign in the distance and — on a clear day or evening — the Bay Bridge twinkling from afar.

More than the feeling of life lived in the sky, John Hergenroeder says, in their penthouse they have gardening without the grass and garage parking without the snow shovels.

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Send an e-mail and photos to homes@baltsun.com.

Making the dream

Dream element: The Hergenroeders live in a 28th-floor penthouse in Baltimore County. "We are the highest view from the highest point in all of Towson," said John Hergenroeder. The residence was custom designed in 1977, combining two penthouses for a living area of almost 3,000 square feet and featuring two balconies, each 400 square feet. Breathtaking views and a true uptown, urban feel to the decor have made the residence a dream home for the couple.

Design inspiration: Chris Hergenroeder, taking a cue from salmon-colored verticals on the living room windows and silver on the dining room windows, as well as at least one mirrored wall in every room, has chosen an Art Deco decor in predominant shades of salmon, white and black. Drama is achieved in design contrasts such as black marble floors abutting white carpeting. Erte pieces grace the walls and sit on the glass shelving of a gilt framed curio cabinet.

Personal touch: The cozy and relaxed tone of the den is enhanced by the personal paintings of Alice Hergenroeder, John's deceased mother. Her fine works include landscapes and impressionistic Renoir reproductions.

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