Jennifer Etheridge has more than a city view from her 12th-floor condo at 414 Water St. She is in the heart of downtown Baltimore's business district — any more of a cosmopolitan feel would have her perched on top of City Hall, whose dome she sees from her bedroom window.
"This place also overlooks the Hustler Club, which is a great conversation starter," she said jokingly.
Among the many perks of living in the 31-story building — including round-the-clock front desk service, a fitness center, outdoor pool, business center and multipurpose room — is that she can walk to M&T Bank each morning, where she works as a treasury management consultant.
In December 2007, Etheridge, 42, was the first person to go to settlement in the building. "I was here when the flooring in the hallways was covered in cardboard," she said.
Soon after, she and her friends began decorating the 653 square feet of living space for which Etheridge paid $216,500. They painted and made brown-and-white polka-dotted draperies for the sliders to the balcony off the living room. Etheridge bought a new sofa with white duck cloth slip covers. Everything else in her four-room, compact interior are pieces she already owned or clever creations — such as her headboard, fashioned from three old doors bolted together.
"A place like this keeps your shopping to a minimum," she said with a laugh. "If you get something new, you have to get rid of something old."
What strikes a first-time visitor (besides the small space) is her use of color and her eclectic decor, which Etheridge calls "a perfect reflection of me and my personality." Baby-blue living room and kitchen walls contrast with hot-pink bedroom walls. Accessories in the home are bright and unusual, such as Etheridge's table lamp with a green glass base and brown-and-white striped shade; an animal-striped living room carpet; an oversized, gilt-framed mirror; and a cocktail cart made of brass and glass.
"I love my bar cart; it was a piece I've wanted for years and can finally take it off my bucket list," she said. "I was so jealous of the bar carts on 'Mad Men.'"
An acknowledged neat freak, Etheridge realized the need to have an allotted place for everything. She is particularly fond of an apothecary table with 18 little drawers, which she painted blue and now uses as a coffee table.
"My friends call it a magical table because if you want anything, it's in those drawers," she said.
Her small kitchen, adjacent to the living room, features maple cabinets, black granite countertops and upgraded flooring.
A very small hallway separates the kitchen and living room area from her bedroom and bathroom. The hallway has a hot-pink-and-black motif, with an entire wall devoted to photographs of family and friends in black frames with white mats. A black satin valence tops the bedroom window with white shades, matching the black-and-white bed linens.
In the adjoining bathroom, walls are painted a brown semigloss with hot-pink and white-striped ceiling molding. A distressed wood cabinet hold linens and toiletries. A white, ruffled shower curtain billows out from the bathtub, and a mirrored bar of stage-style lights sits above a granite-topped sink.
Etheridge considers her compact condo the perfect space for a single working woman, and thinks of its somewhat offbeat furnishings as "a labor of love that involved my best friends and family."
"I have always wanted to show off something I'm proud of, and I did it my way," she said.
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