Two of a kind

BSO Show House offers double the design at The Ritz

  • The living room in Unit Two, designed by Victor Liberatore Interior Design and Gail Lieberman Studiofeatures one-of-a-kind art, sculpture, and custom furniture in modern gallery like setting.
The living room in Unit Two, designed by Victor Liberatore Interior… (Barbara Haddock Taylor,…)
May 06, 2011|By Dennis Hockman, Chesapeake Life + Home

If you've been meaning to take a peek at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at the Inner Harbor, this year's Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorators' Show House is the perfect opportunity. The event, which starts Saturday, not only gets you behind the facade, but it turns the typical show house model on its ear, presenting two residences that allow visitors to see how different designers treat the same space.

The two residences share the same floor plan and harbor views, with the only difference being the choices the designers made, resulting in two distinct styles — one skewing modern, the other more traditional.

The open L-shaped living and dining areas in each unit provides the best example of how the same space can evoke two different moods based on the decor.

In Unit 1, the more traditional residence, the Fitzsimmons Design Associates' living room elegantly complements a dining room created by Simply Grande Interiors.

To spark their design, Simply Grande's Jim Ryan and Bob Zealor imagined the residents as a couple with no kids living at home, both working, who enjoy the best of city living. A busy couple who spend much of their time working, dining out, going to concerts and the like, these residents have little time for fussy interiors, so the decor was "kept clean and simple with a focus on the room's great view of the harbor," says Ryan.

To begin, Ryan selected a duck egg blue and gold willow pattern wallpaper from York Wallcoverings, using it as a foundation for the rest of the scheme. Because this room is all about the view, the designers limited the decor to only what was needed — an elegant Asian-influenced dining set, a modern chandelier, a beach scene painting from Renaissance Galleries and a mirrored sideboard, which keeps the space bright by reflecting natural light.

The windows, too, are simply dressed. But simple doesn't mean boring.

"To keep the window treatments light and airy," says Ryan, " I used a fabric that resembles fish netting by Vervain and paired it with a sheer to frame the windows, not cover them. Nothing should distract from that million-dollar view."

Playing off the wallpaper Ryan and Zealor selected for the dining room, Gina Fitzsimmons painted the living room a rich caramel color that not only complemented the willow pattern but also the two coastal landscape paintings in the room, which, she says, are the key to the color scheme of her design.

The oil paintings and warm golden walls, along with drapery panels in the same hue, create a simple, sophisticated coastal ambiance.

"I kept draperies the same color as the wall so that they didn't detract from the water view, but packed small details into the curtains so when you did look at them they were interesting," she says. A welted crown molding-like detail accented with a row of oversized antique bronze tacks create a valance at the top of each panel.

To maximize the functionality of the space, Fitzsimmons created two seating groups — one adjacent to the dining area for after-dinner drinks and conversation, and one between the fireplace and glass doors that open to a serene waterfront patio.

A picture of casual sophistication, the space features a mother of pearl cocktail table flanked by love seats near the dining room. Fitzsimmons anchored each seating area on matching hand-knotted area rugs for continuity. The second seating area near the fireplace is at once casual and elegant. Notable furniture pieces include a driftwood side table with a glass top and a comfortable chaise by the window—perfect for reading, watching TV or getting lost in the view.

In Unit 2, interior designer Victor Liberatore and artist Gail Lieberman teamed up to design the dining and living rooms as one continuous space with three distinct functional zones for dining, watching TV and taking in the view.

For inspiration, the duo looked outside.

"The view from inside our space is dramatic," says Liberatore. "The buildings across the harbor are very angular and geometric. We wanted our space to reflect that, so I started by designing a cone-shaped dining table to emulate the energy outside."

Throughout the space, graphite grays and bold greens, ranging from mossy to lime, set the tone, and a circle motif delivers continuity. Instead of heavy window treatments that would block precious views, simple panels are deployed, "a counterbalance to other elements of the room," says Liberatore.

Collaborating with local artists and artisans on custom pieces, Liberatore and Lieberman created a space that functions not just for dining and hanging out but also as a gallery.

Favorite pieces include the "target" painting created by Lieberman; a spiraling sail-like sculpture by 2 Griffins, which was made by laminating over 1,100 pieces of thinly cut wood; and a lounge chair sculpture and mixed-media art piece by Giardini Design.

"The mixed-media piece on stainless steel is like a modern day 'Mona Lisa,'" says Liberatore.

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