Nouveau co-founder's professional touch adds pop to his Canton home

For The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore designer and store owner's home is nouveau again.

Most homeowners are familiar with the hassles that a brutally cold and snowy winter can deliver.

Steve Appel knows them all too well. Four Februarys ago, the co-founder and senior designer of Nouveau Home and Interior Design (now at its new Eager Street location), experienced winter's wrath by way of serious flooding in his three-story Canton home.

"A pipe leading up to the rooftop deck cracked [because of] the freezing temperatures, and the water came down from the top of the house all the way to the first-floor gym, ruining much of the house," he said.

But there was no "woe-is-me" attitude from the 52-year-old designer, who with 29 years in the interior decorating business has guided clients toward the homes of their dreams. Appel would simply become his own client.

He and his wife, Kris Appel, a 53-year-old vice president and partner at Hampden-based Web development company Ignition 72, moved into an apartment in February 2011 while movers, packers and contractors went to work on their home, saving what they could and restoring the interior. The Appels would be out of the home they purchased in 2001 until the end of April 2011.

Meanwhile, the couple agreed on their priorities for the renovation.

Insurance payments of $60,000 covered much of the job, and the Appels spent an additional $20,000 on upgraded carpet, lighting, wallpaper and amenities, including two fireplaces and a whirlpool tub.

"We wanted to give the house a more intimate, warm feel," Steve Appel said. "We did that by changing the colors to more neutral tones [while] adding elegant but subtle wallpaper in designer beiges and golds. We changed the carpet to a frieze-type carpet, which is shag-like twisted fiber and silk. It is beautiful, lush, warm and forgiving. We also brought in new upholstery with upgraded seating for extra comfort."

A home gym is on the Appels' first floor, just inside the front door. A wall of mirrors reflects a treadmill, stack of dumbbells, and a complete Body-Solid weight machine with five stations, all on a rubber floor. Terra cotta paint covers the other three walls. The hallway to the second level is papered in beige with gold harlequin diamond shapes, a pattern repeated on the kitchen walls.

Fluidity and cohesiveness work hand-in-hand in the design scheme of the second level, with its open layout comprising the kitchen, dining area and living room. Warm and homey tones of beige, gold and brown are found throughout. In the kitchen, maple cabinets hang over black granite countertops. In contrast, a 7-by-4-foot center island is topped in light cream-colored granite with brown and gold veins.

Adjacent to a raised kitchen fireplace sit two occasional chairs in a brown and gold swirled fabric with velvet cording. Steve Appel calls them his "doggie-bone chairs," referring to their shape, and they epitomize the Midcentury Modern style. But this is only one aspect of his design style, defined by eclectic, traditional modern elements sprinkled with antiques.

All of these components are found in the dining room, where chairs of wood, resin and suede are tucked into a table of brushed aluminum and glass. An Art Deco breakfront of tiger oak here is a favorite piece.

A pair of columns form a visual separation between the dining and living areas. The brown chairs and sofa in a poly-blend material present a tailored club look. Dictating the living room's color scheme is a painting hung over the second fireplace, of a large nude figure in shades of orange with brown lines.

The master bedroom on the third floor showcases two crystal hanging chandeliers, one on either side of a bed with a brown suede headboard. Hand-printed wallpaper from England, depicting an Asian village in blue on a brown background, forms an accent wall behind the bed. An antique desk of hand-painted ash makes a statement of calm and elegance in a corner of the room.

The den, down the hall from the bedroom, is Art Deco-inspired and relaxing. Caramel-colored walls are the backdrop for modern paintings hung over such vintage pieces as a standing Victrola and a circa-1930s desktop radio. A club-style sofa in an orange, tweed-like fabric sits under four framed studies of the same woman that evoke the work of graphic artist Peter Max. While these are not his pieces, the Appels have two original Max watercolors hanging in their second level.

The rooftop deck, like most in the area, offers impressive harbor and city views.

Steve Appel couldn't be more pleased in his renovated home, toned down with a more relaxing feel than before the flood.

"I wanted this house to be beautiful," he said. "I think your home should be your palace."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Send an email to homes@baltsun.com.

Making the dream

Dream realized: "[Our] home is perfect for a couple with two crazy cats," said Steve Appel. "The garage is big enough to hold all my toys — the Vespa, motorcycle and vintage Mustang. We have a full gym, which is very important to both of us. The main floor has a wonderful deck off the kitchen where we entertain. We have a parking pad and a secluded courtyard, which gives us a lot of privacy."

Dream style: I'm definitely very eclectic," Steve Appel said. "I love to mix old and new and break every design rule taught to me. I don't like white walls or white ceilings — I love color and texture. I love to repurpose but bring in new when needed. It's important that every room is comfortable but beautiful."

Dream rooms: "My den and the living room are tied for first, I love them both," he said. "The living room because it's so beautiful and comfortable. We always have the fireplace on whether we're watching TV or having friends over. It's cozy [and] makes me feel warm and safe. [In] the den I'm surrounded by pictures of my dad, mom, grandparents and all of their pieces, like the old Remington typewriter belonging to my granddad, the adding machine from the '40s my grandmother used to keep books for my other granddad ... and many other family pieces."

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