The Insider

Inside the New Harbor East J. Crew


The new J. Crew in Harbor East opened yesterday and my teenage daughter and I thought it might be fun to take a peek inside.  I like the sign on the window.

Inside Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium


We sent our intern Daisy Strudwick, rising sophomore at Ole Miss and RPCS Class of 2011, to check out the new Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium at the Inner Harbor.  See below what you’ll find inside.  (One of the best attractions: air conditioning!) -The Eds.

The Entrance

The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium opened last month at the Inner Harbor, next to the Urban Outfitters at Harbor Place. Many exhibits really do shock and amaze, like the Mini Cooper covered in Swarovski crystals,

The Insider: Visit to an Old Farmhouse in the Country


Do you ever marvel at those people who live way out, I mean so far out that it takes 45 minutes to get to the grocery store? I often tease my friends who live way out on Reisterstown Road, or way out on Falls Road or out in Howard County, about living in another state and spending so much time in their cars. That is until I get there, of course.  The lush serenity, the stillness, the communing with nature — there is something stunningly beautiful about the Maryland countryside.

The Insider: Mixing the Old and the New in Woodbrook




Tile, wrought iron, beamed ceilings and stone inside this Woodbrook house evoke a Mediterranean feel, but with a distinctly Baltimore (the couple who own it grew up here) interpretation. The house was bought a few years back by one of the most laid-back and fun families I know.  The architect Donald Ratcliffe and his wife raised their six children in the house,  so it is big and roomy enough for the two adults, two teenagers and pre-teen who live here today.


Although he did not build the 1920’s house, Ratcliffe left his mark on it and many of the best design elements are attributed to him. In the front hall, wrought iron railing, tile floor, an antique drop leaf mahogany table and an antique rug combine for a stylish mix. The owner used seagrass on the staircase, which looks fresh and modern.

The living room is light-filled and open, with wall-to-wall seagrass.  Love the copper fireplace hood!

The living room sits opposite a wall of windows that looks out on a lovely, lush yard.

The Insider: A Rambling Roland Park Roost

Three athletic brothers live here. Can you tell?

This week we take a look inside one of those big, sprawling Roland Park homes that so many of us admire: dark brown cedar shingle, white trim, on a tree-lined street, elegant enough for adults, but roomy and comfortable enough for kids. Fun fact: The house was the childhood home of our friend and Pigtown Design blogger Meg Fielding.

The house has a lovely wide porch where the family entertains in the summer.

She is from Greenwich, Connecticut and used her mother’s New York designer to decorate the house. The house is traditional with a few added surprises, like the leopard print rug in the living room. 

The Insider: Behind the Scenes at Pimlico, Gearing up for Preakness



Photo by Anne Stuzin

Every year, Pimlico opens its gates to the public for Sunrise at Old Hilltop, when the staff gives 20 minute tours from 6 – 9 a.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Preakness Week. It is billed by Pimlico as, ” an insider’s perspective on racing during an escorted tour of the Preakness Stakes Barn.” For the last 15 years, former jockey and current horse owner Charlie Fenwick, who knows the track so well, has invited friends for a guided tour with his personal touch. This year, I joined him.

The Insider: Inside the BSO’s Decorator Show House


It was my first time attending the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Decorator Show House.  This year, the event takes place at The Eck House, built by Baltimore businessman Franklin Eck, at Cromwell Valley Park. As I drove out to Towson, I really didn’t know what to expect. The literature said that the event, which runs until May 20, was in its 36th year and that 18 local designers had taken the “1972 farmhouse and transformed it into a welcoming home.” What I found was a makeover that was a little more HGTV than Architectural Digest, but charming nonetheless. There were a few moments of design brilliance and plenty of simple DIY ideas to keep me busy all summer long.

Here is the best of it.

For me, the highlight of the house was the eclectic living room done by Cashmere Interior.  The global textiles and accent pieces were right on trend. I loved that the designer took advantage of the ten foot ceilings using large scale furniture and light fixtures which gave it a California vibe.

The Insider: A Cape Cod Redux


This week’s Insider house is owned by one of my most stylish friends.  She’s a Philadelphia native who came here for a job, married into a Baltimore family and is now a lifer. While she’s a graphic designer by training, she has dabbled in interior design as an assistant at a famous design house in London and another in Baltimore.  Like so many artistic people, she’s a natural.

I find those in the artsy crowd extend their aesthetic point-of-view throughout their lives with choices in clothes, art, interiors and more. The owner of this five bedroom, four bath Cape Cod is no exception.

One of my favorite rooms in the house is living room with its long raw silk-covered sofa and glamourous mirrored wall.  It’s very reminiscent of Los Angeles interior designer Kelly Wearstler.

The Insider: A Bolton Hill Masterpiece on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage



Welcome to our new column, “The Insider,” where we take you inside (get it?) great looking Baltimore homes.  This week we peek into a house on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage Tour in Bolton Hill on Saturday, April 28. Each year, the MHGP coordinates spring tours of historic and contemporary sites to cultivate awareness of Maryland’s rich historic, architectural and cultural housing. If you love Baltimore houses, as we do at the BFB, the pilgrimage is a great way to see what others have done and get ideas for your own home projects.

Today we feature the home of Lat Naylor, who was our inaugural “Artist in Residence” when we launched almost a year ago. Lat is a painter and sculptor who remodeled the traditional Bolton Hill townhouse himself.  He bought the house in 2001, when it was divided into ten separate residences, and over six years painstakingly restored it to the contemporary masterpiece it is today. Over the same period, he met and married his wife Barbara, and they now share the space with their two boys, both under age three.

The five-story townhouse (including the garden floor) was built in the early 1870s as a single family house. By the mid-20th century, it had become a rooming house and then served as a “party” house for MICA students. By the time Latty bought the house, it needed so much work he decided to gut it.  The decision meant  a 30-dumpster demolition, structural reinforcement (including a reconstructed roof), and new systems.