Real Estate & Home

Trophy Loft in Canton


HOT HOUSE: 1023 South Curley Street, Baltimore 21224

An 1880 Federal style townhouse, recently resurrected as a glamorous, industrial style loft space.  6,800 total square feet  (including 2,800 square feet of unfinished garage). Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, with hot tub, roof deck and open fireplace on three levels: $1,100,000.

What: Behind the polished, brick façade of an old Canton townhouse, lies this huge, ultra-hip loft — completely and beautifully finished, with custom designed staircase, flooring, lighting and furniture.  Offered for sale by Drew McQuaid, for whom it was “a batch pad,” this property appeared last August in the Wall Street Journal’s “House of the Day.”  Downstairs at street level is the unfinished garage, which looks like it could hold three cars and then some.   Upstairs is a sleek, confident lair — masculine in feeling, but warm and refined in taste. High-end everything. Steel and concrete furniture, which is more comfortable than it sounds, sets the tone for a cool, laid-back aesthetic. The top floor contains the bedrooms, including a large master bed and groovy bath, as well as the sliding doors that lead to the roof deck and hot tub. Views are nice, especially at night.  Heating is natural gas and solar.

Where: South Curley Street is a quiet side street just off pleasantly bustling O’Donnell Square in Canton. Number 1023 is six blocks south of Patterson Park and three blocks north of the waterfront. It’s a great location — just a dash over to the bank, dry cleaners and a wide range of bars, from the Claddagh to the Elvis Lounge and Looney’s. St. Casimir is your local parish.

Why:  1.  It’s a house  that can easily accommodate your “big” furniture. 2. An historic tax credit makes your taxes a shockingly low $3,775 a year — at least for the next five years (as of 2011).  3. There are just not many properties this stylish in Baltimore.

Why Not: 1. You are intimidated by 20’ ceilings. 2. In a million years, you would never use a  hot tub on a roof.

Would Suit: Daniel Craig.

NB:  You are not really on, or even very near, the water here, which for some people is the appeal of the neighborhood.

The Shops: Gore Dean


Over the holidays we featured “The Shops”, a column by our friend and Pigtown Design blogger Meg Fielding. You liked it so much, we’re going to keep posting her delightful reviews of the most interesting shelter shops in town. – The Eds.

I do love Gore Dean, and I hadn’t been by there for ages, even though it’s only about a mile up the Falls Road from me. So when I went to the local outpost of Williams-Sonoma on New Year’s Eve to pick up some fun cooking tools, I popped in to Gore Dean.

Gore Dean (5)One of the things that Gore Dean does beautifully is Chinoiserie. I saw this lovely little painting that Spider, Deb Gore Dean’s husband who manages the store, was about to hang.Gore Dean (6)

Then I turned around and spotted this group of plates. They’re the same colours as some Coalport china that I have. Love the blue, gold and orange.Gore Dean (1)

I spied this great-looking chair, and Spider told me that it came from the writer, Dominic Dunne.Gore Dean (13)If you’re a fan of Dunne’s writings, here’s a chance to own a piece of his history. The detailing on the chair is great.Gore Dean (12)


One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep my desk a little more tidy, especially the one at the office.Gore Dean (16)I think these pebble-grain leather pieces would look fabulous, don’t you?

Although my driving record, both here and in the UK, is SPOTLESS, I think that several people I know could benefit from this little tome.Gore Dean (20)The book would be a great conversation piece, regardless of who it was given to.

You know, this is the year of the Dragon.Gore Dean (21)So these plates would be a perfect accompaniment to some dim sum at a Chinese New Year dinner.

I love that the lighting at Gore Dean ranges from the completely traditional wall sconcesGore Dean (38)to these up-to-the-moment pendant lamps in the most au courant shade of orange.Gore Dean (39)

Finally, who could resist these cheeky monkeys?Gore Dean (40)

Gore Dean

5100 Falls Road  88 Village Square 
Baltimore, Maryland 21210 


1673 Wisconsin Avenue 
Washington, DC 20007 


441 Canal Street 
Stamford, CT 06902-5910 


Holiday Doors to Inspire


Our roving photographer and friend, Roland Park resident Anne Stuzin, takes shots of local doors to get you inspired and in the spirit.

Photos by Anne Chorske Stuzin 

Magnolia wreath

Classic mixed greens wreath at St. David’s Church

Evergreen garland

Silver bells at Baltimore Country Club 

 Red feathered wreath

Fruited wreath 


Diamond In The Rough: 8,000 Square Foot, Unfinished Loft On Hollins Street


HOT HOUSE: 1008 Hollins Street, Baltimore 21223

Circa 1871 New York style loft building, former livery stable, then fruit warehouse in SoWeBo (Southwest Baltimore). Zoned commercial/industrial. Partly heated, rudimentary kitchen and bathroom. 8,000 sq. ft. with skylights, rope-operated freight elevator, remote control door: $575,000

What: A jaw-dropping, raw, Tribecca brand of loft space, one of the few left here in Baltimore. Originally a livery stable for a large undertaking operation on Baltimore Street, some of the interior wood has had a former life as caskets. The owner, an artist in the film industry, is half-hearted about selling. He has great plans (and materials) for a sweeping staircase, a reading loft and more. It was “very raw” space when he acquired it, 15 years ago, and served as party/performance space through the 90’s.

Still unfinished by most standards, he’s installed plumbing, new windows, and a giant triple-insulated skylight with a prism that attracts light to the interior in winter and refracts it in the summer. There are just enough amenities to support life, (stove, bathtub and toilet) if you’re pretty relaxed. Also “the roof is bad.” But there is real beauty in the giant scale of the place – 30 foot ceilings and exposed surfaces that reveal an ancient industrial past. Light that streams through clerestory windows, turning floating particles into hypnotic fairy dust. In the right hands, this would surpass the Woodberry Kitchen as a successful architectural renovation. Any takers?   

Where: Hollins Street is on the other side of Martin Luther King Boulevard, the bad side. Gentrification, however, is well underway.  The sleek new buildings of University of Maryland are just 100 yards away, across MLK, and coming this way. There are funky shops, cute restaurants and interestingly, many beauty salons already here. Not to mention the bustling Hollins Market right on the corner. Follow MLK Boulevard south to West Baltimore Street, take a right and then a left onto S. Schroeder Street, and a quick right onto Hollins. 

Why: Because you have either the eye of an artist or the head of a real-estate investor.You need one or both of those to realize the potential here.

Would Suit: Andy Warhol. This could be the Factory of Baltimore.

NB:  See “bad side” above, so no kids. Also, obviously, tons of work needed. It would be a labor of love.  

Sleek Apartment In Mid-Century Masterpiece


HOT HOUSE: Apt. #503, Highfield House, 4000 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21218

Streamlined one bedroom apartment in an iconic Mid-Century Modern building. 869 square feet, with 24-hour service, underground garage with valet parking, swimming pool: $125,000

What: Your life, only more like “Mad Men.” Built in 1964, Highfield House is one of two Mies Van der Rohe buildings in Baltimore.  In its day it was a major architectural statement. And if you  stand back and look, the strong, clean, “less is more” aesthetic, and Mies’ sure, restrained hand come shining through in the design of Highfield House today. The lobby is fabulously chic, with its black leather Barcelona chairs and glass floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s one of those places, like the Apple Store, where everyone becomes more interesting just by being there. The building is well-maintained and well-served, and they’ve done their best to keep it up to date while preserving its architectural integrity. Number 503, like all the apartments in Highfield House, has a wall of windows stretching along the back, maximizing the light and vistas. There are angled walls, which keep it from feeling boxy, hardwood floors and a sweeping sense of space for a relatively small area. Galley kitchen and bathroom are fine as is, but with some work, could be really great. This elegant and contemporary setting cries out for spare, modern decorating. If you can, leave grandma’s stuff behind. On the other hand, a cocktail shaker would look right at home.

Where: In the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, about a half-mile north of Johns Hopkins University. Safe and walkable.    

Would suit: Don Draper, obviously. Emma Peel.   

Why: It’s the ultimate showcase for your Mid-Century furniture. And, it’s a very cool building, quite different from the other apartments along the Charles Street corridor, and with more luxury amenities than most. Residents are an interesting, artistic bunch.  

NB: 503 is not, by a long stretch, the best apartment in the Highfield House. The really spectacular ones are the high floor, corner three-bedrooms, and those where two apartments have been combined. In these, the feeling of light and space are awe inspiring – exactly the way the architect intended. None are for sale right now, but the right agent can get you on a waiting list. 

SoBo Grocery Sort


I’ll admit it.  The new Harris Teeter in South Baltimore’s Locust Point is food nirvana.  Dry-aged tenderloin beef.  Stone crab claws.  Prosciutto by the slice. But I think there’s something lost with the opening of a gourmet supermarket in SoBo.  It’s the mix of race and class I’ve seen in the grocery aisle.

Before Harris Teeter, the only full-size supermarket south of the Inner Harbor was the Shoppers Food Warehouse at the Southside Shopping Center.  A colleague of mine once joked that Shoppers offers the best people-watching in the city: yuppies in business suits complaining about the bad produce, frat boys from Riverside buying stacks of frozen dinners, grandmas holding coupons like hot hands in poker, cashiers with big butts and bigger hairdos, white moms loading toilet paper and pork chops into folding shopping carts they push home and black moms loading groceries into taxis that carry them home to the food deserts of southwest Baltimore. It’s a mosaic of shapes, sizes and colors all packed into the same, usually long, checkout line. People bound together by lack of choice.

But with Harris Teeter comes choice.  I fear the mosaic will break into its component parts.  It’s what author and journalist Bill Bishop calls the Big Sort: When given the choice, people will organize themselves into like-minded clusters.   In this case, white-collar folks will go to Harris Teeter.  Working-class folks will stay with Shoppers, especially when the 25-percent-off Teeter coupons expire. 

In some ways, this stratification in the grocery aisle is just human nature, or to borrow the cliché from the avian world, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  We feel safer and more comfortable around people who look like us.  Plus, we’re only talking about groceries, right?

Maybe not.  The new Harris Teeter is a reflection of the gentrification of South Baltimore.  The recession has tamped down home prices for now. But most locals expect the gourmet grocer to attract more young professionals to the neighborhood, and maybe even suburban families ready to give the city a try.  Rents for the new apartments next to Harris Teeter range from $1,400 to $2,500 a month.

What this means for me is that I’ll be sharing my neighborhood with more people who look like me: a 40-something white Baltimore transplant with a desk job and liberal arts degree. Yuck.  I can look in the mirror to see that.  What I want to see is a kaleidoscope of people; old-timers and newcomers, people who worked at the Proctor & Gamble soap factory and people who work at Under Armour, people who walk everywhere and people who drive, people who like purple Christmas trees and people who like real ones, people who wear Gore-Tex jackets and people who wear clear vinyl rain hats.  It’s the crazy quilt of SoBo that I’ve come to love.  It’s not always pretty.  But it keeps me warm.  And with that, my compassion for the differences I see grows. 

Even so, you will see me at Harris Teeter.  And the new Asian bistro that will be opening soon, along with the new dry cleaner and doggie boutique.   Shoppers will still draw me in, especially for the 59-cent “Colossal” glazed donut, the best in Baltimore.  And the smoked turkey tails.  Harris Teeter only has wings and legs.  But really, I’ll keep going to Shoppers to be around people who are different from me.


Ornamental Decisions: How to Deck, Not Wreck, the Halls


Well folks, it’s the most wonderful time of year again. ‘Tis time to deck the halls, trim the tree and untangle the effing lights. For those overachievers who are already done, congratulations! You are annoying! This one is for the rest of you, and no pressure, but you’re a little behind the eight ball. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “’We have all day Saturday, a little Home Depot, a little Valley View and home just in time to crank the Mariah, open a bottle of red and get to work…it’ll be fun.” Please stop lying to yourself. The likely reality is that you will be drunk by 6:45, on the brink of divorce by 7:30 and screaming at your kids — “Mommy Dearest”-style — about ornament placement by 7:45 sharp. Not exactly Norman Rockwell.

On Sunday, panic mode will set in and you’ll begin to exhibit frenetic behavior. The voice in your head that says, “just get it done” will be at full volume and set on repeat. You will no longer concern yourself with “minor details.” You will put a red bow on the Halloween wreath still hanging on the front door. You will forgo all fire safety and plug 12 sets of lights into the same outlet. You will boldly display the faded nylon poinsettias your mother-in-law gave you. Your results will beg the question: why even bother? If you need evidence of this phenomenon, please stop by my neighborhood and see the house where the owners placed just one of those light nets atop a single random shrub and called it a day. Tell me they weren’t just checking the box. 

So how do you avoid becoming a drunken whirling dervish and come up with a result you can actually be proud of? I think it starts with developing a methodical game plan and a strong set of rules. So put down the staple-gun, come down from the ladder and ponder some guidelines to trim by. Hopefully, they will set you on a course for your calmest and most attractive holiday yet.

Rule # 1

Keep the bigger picture in mind.

Your holiday adornment should reflect your home’s style and decor. Traditional stately house? Traditional stately decorations. Sounds simple but it involves restraint. All those store displays of similarly themed decorations can be damn beguiling. For example, I have recently found myself dreaming of a white Christmas…tree. In my mind, it’s flocked and adorned with candy-colored ornaments: peachy pink, Tiffany blue and peridot green. Very late 60‘s-Sharon Stone-“Casino.” I envision completing my vintage holiday look by wearing a hostess gown and using a punch set. Sadly, this is a dream that will have to wait. My house is Cape-Cod-cottagey and all that fabulousness would look incongruous and confused here. If I ever get my hands on this mid-century masterpiece, however, I will do that white tree thing to the nines!


Rule # 2

Be consistent. 

This one is a biggie and the most broken rule of the bunch. As your Aunt Lucille’s house demonstrates, not everything “holiday” goes together. There are dozens of genres and subsections within. A pulled-together decor relies on an understanding of the nuances and displaying like with like. A few examples of holiday “looks” that are popular today:


Vintage: Think Zooey Deschanel, bird motifs, Hampden thrift shops, milk glass, Anthropologie, boxwood and Etsy.

Mod: Think Lady Gaga, graphic shapes, Home on the Harbor, bright white, CB2, lacquer, and the BMA store.

Woodland: Think Snow White, acorns, Irvine Nature Center, birch wood, your yard and Terrain.

Grand Traditional: Think Charlotte Moss, magnolia, Scully & Scully, Sunnyfields, bows and Horchow.

Once you pick your look, consistency is key. If you are going kitsch, then by all means gather your hub caps and flamingos and get to work. If you are going rustic, start gluing your pine cones and moss. Just don’t mix the two! They will cancel each other out and look like one hot holiday mess. Want to incorporate multiple styles under one roof? Keep them in separate rooms. A brightly colored and more casual tree in the family room (put the kids’ macaroni ornaments on that one) and a dressier one in the living room will keep things cohesive.


Rule #3

Purge. Purge. Purge.

It might be time to re-evaluate the following: The “country” snowmen hand towels, the neon tomato-colored velvet ribbon, the teddy bears dressed as angels, the MacKenzie-Childs high-heeled Christmas stockings, the mauve ornaments from the 1987 “Victorian” themed tree, the Krinkles collection figurines, the “I love shopping!” purse ornament, the gold and burgundy tree skirt, the mantle carolers and, obviously, the Christmas sweater!


Rule #4

Think outside of the box.

This just in: Orange and teal are the new red and green! Well, not exactly but holiday decorations today are not as literal as they used to be. It’s less about putting up cliched signs of the season and more about creating an atmosphere of warmth and sparkle. This can be achieved by using colors that complement the room’s existing scheme rather that visually announcing “It’s Christmas!” with gingham bows. This approach also means you can move beyond the mantle. Add lanterns, mirrored objects and metallics throughout the room to create an overall glow. If you still want to to incorporate a bit of tradition, do it in unexpected ways. Instead of evergreen boughs and holly, try a big glass bowl filled with pomegranates and limes. It’ll be just as festive without the cliche.


Rule #5

Less is more.

The final rule addresses the most beloved holiday decorating mistake: going too far. Do not take any of the above advice and apply the if-a-little-is-good-a-lot-must-be-better mindset. Trust me, it’s not. A single lit shrub is bad, but a lighting job that induces permanent retina damage is worse. Likewise, when executing a decorating theme, there is a fine line between pulled-together and overly-enthusiastic-decorator-on-diet-pills. You have been to that house. Every conceivable surface is covered in greenery, hundreds of huge wired bows abound and themed ornaments seem to breed before your eyes. It’s tiring just to look at. When in doubt, do less and do it better, and you will surely add some beauty to the season. Happy holidays!

Chestertown Architectural Gem, With History On The Side


HOT HOUSE: ‘Lauretum’  954 High Street, Chestertown, Kent County, MD. 21620

Queen Anne-style Victorian, stucco over brick, built in 1881. Well-maintained and currently run as The Lauretum Inn, a bed and breakfast, with nine bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths, on 6 acres near the Chester River: $932,500

What: An architectural masterpiece in the exuberant, eclectic style of Queen Anne, as well as a beacon to Maryland history buffs. Lauretum,, the name means ‘laurel-grove’, was built in 1881 by Harrison W. Vickers, son of Maryland Senator George Vickers, and paid for by a $75,000 win in the Louisiana Lottery. (Senator Vickers, on his deathbed, cast the deciding vote against the impeachment of President Andrew Jackson.) Designed by Baltimore-based, internationally known architect Edmund G. Lind, Lauretum was one of the first architect-designed homes of its period in Chestertown, and it looks like Mr. Lind gave it everything he had. Mansard roof with jerkin-head gables, towers (including one ‘secret’ tower), double-tiered porches, plaster moldings, striped mahogany floors, interior shutters, beaded paneling, formal fireplaces etc.  But don’t be intimidated by all the history and gables –Lauretum is a warm, comfortable home. From the wide verandas overlooking the park-like grounds, to the new gourmet kitchen, and modern –- yes, modern — bathrooms,  it’s an idyllic spot by any standard. The floor plan is surprisingly open and unstructured. Large, sunny rooms lead toward that stunning kitchen and out onto the south-facing porch. The house has a second kitchen and laundry room, which are the only concessions to its B&B status. It could be un-B&Bd quite easily – just take down the sign and call it home.

Where:  Lauretum sits high on six acres above Chestertown, a mile or so from town, adjacent to Washington College and the Chester River. High Street runs up from the pleasant downtown, where spring, summer and fall, visitors keep things humming.  To get there from Baltimore, take Rt. 50 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, then north on 301. Exit to 213 North. It’s about 1 ½ hours from Baltimore and Washington D.C.  Founded in 1706, Chestertown has a year-round population of about 4,500. 

Why:  Eastern shore lifestyle. Farmers markets. Chance to become a leading light of Chestertown society.   

Would Suit:  People who’ve always wanted to run a B&B (there’s more of them around then you might think). Urbanites looking for a unique summer experience.  

NB: Winters might be a little slow. 

Renovated Carriage House In Secret Location


HOT HOUSE: 4723 Falls Road, Baltimore, 21209

1902 Stone carriage house in a unique, secluded setting.Four bedrooms, four baths, newly renovated, with separate office wing, on 1.02 acres: $995,000 

What: A lodge-style manor house, hidden behind tall hedges, improbably located on (but not visible from) Falls Road at the entrance to Roland Park.  Once you find it — nearby neighbors did not even know the house was there — it is very, very pretty. Natural stucco and stone walls with a slate roof and dovecote cupola. Interesting architectural details everywhere. Everything extremely ship shape. At the back, separated by glass doors,  is a large office area with its own entrance, conference room and cubicles. There’s still plenty of room though — this is a good size house.  Front door leads directly into the living room. To the right are the dining room and kitchen, butler’s pantry/wetbar and cozy bookcase lined den. Hardwood floors and finishes are perfect, bathrooms look new, walls in soft shades of grey, beige and cream. The lot is large and surrounded by large trees and shrubs. There are several garden rooms and stone patio areas. On the upper level, you could have a pool or a tennis court, or both.     

 Where: Take 83 to Cold Spring Lane, and a left onto Falls Road. At the second light, take a right onto Hillside and an IMMEDIATE right into the driveway. Follow the driveway to the end. Hillside runs up the south side of the Baltimore Country Club property, past the old tennis courts, and meanders on up to Roland Avenue.

Why: No one will ever know you’re there. A great place to run your stealth-wealth enterprise, hide from the coppers or plot world domination — extra office cubicles for your minions already in-place.

 Would Suit:  Sleeping Beauty, wicked witch,  or a family who likes the surprise factor of this location.

 NB:  Explaining, constantly, how to find the house could be annoying, assuming you want to be found. You are just a few feet from the road, so traffic noise is a given.


Historic Mansion And Farm in Carroll County


HOT HOUSE: 3251 Gamber Road, Finksburg, Carroll County 21048

Cold Saturday Farm, historic Federal period stone colonial, built in 1765 for the Governor to the King of England. Seven bedrooms, 4 ½ baths, on 45 acres with barn and carriage house: $2,889,000

What: Half-an-hour from Baltimore, 17 minutes from the McDonogh School, is an idyllic stone mansion, architecturally significant and steeped in history, named by the King of England. Truly. Here, a sweet, bucolic life could be played out in spades. A herd of Black Angus? Miniature donkeys? Gardening? Civil War Reenactments?  All possible here on a centuries-old farm, complete with bridges and streams, vistas and fields, all of which have been beautifully maintained. The house is in good shape, too, with beautiful carved bookcases and moldings, a large country kitchen and epic fireplaces. Forced air heat and central air.

Where: In Finksburg. That’s Finksburg, six miles south of Westminster. Never been there, but it sounds really nice.  Finksburg boasts a new library, a central facility of the National Security Association, (summer internship possibilities for teenagers …) and a great baseball league in nearby Roaring Run Park. Fred Gwynne, aka Herman Munster, is buried there, in an unmarked grave. To get there, take Rt. 795 north about 8 miles to Rt. 140. (Exit 9B toward Westminster.) At the intersection of Rt. 140 and Rt. 91, take a left. Gamber Road is the name of Rt. 91 on that side of Rt. 140. House is a mile or so on the left.

Why: You can legitimately wear Wellington boots all day long.

Would Suit: Landed gentry. You are landed gentry, right?

NB: Dinner parties in Finksburg might not be the sparkling affairs you’re used to. On the other hand…