When Evelyn Gorman bought her then-10-year-old contemporary brick townhouse in Ruxton 25 years ago, change was the first order of business.
To this seasoned interior designer from New York City, there was no reason not to create everything in her style — one she calls "country French in an eclectic, sophisticated approach." The obvious starting point was getting rid of the 1980s kitchen that was prominently avocado green.
"I have always tried to be true to my own design concepts," said the award-winning designer and former interior design columnist for the Baltimore Jewish Times. She smiles when recalling how her late husband got very nervous when she had wood-framed glass cabinets installed in her kitchen.
Hardly a stranger to color, she has transformed the kitchen into a magazine-worthy room. Cadet blue walls provide the backdrop for the white cabinets, white Corian countertops and light tile flooring. Black and white draperies on the sliders to an outdoor courtyard add contrast.
Adjacent to the kitchen, which is at the front of the house, the front hallway sets a welcoming, yet sophisticated tone with floral wallpaper in muted shades. Dentil ceiling molding, a high-backed, carved wood bench, and a boudoir-like lamp on an occasional table add warmth.
"I love the ambience and atmosphere wallpaper creates," Gorman said, leading the way to her living room —the piece de resistance of the interior transformation.
The walls, painted salmon above the chair rails and soft cream under, evoke demure formality in the living/dining area that is both inviting and elegant. Traditional furniture upholstered in tone-on-tone jewel colors is arranged perpendicular to a fireplace with a carved wood mantel.
A glass bump-out at the far end of the room has sliders, covered with floral draperies, that lead to a rear patio. The space features a wooden library table with cabriole legs, serving as a resting place for family pictures, orchids and a lamp with a three-candle base and a satin lampshade. A Renoir-like painting of a little girl sits on a decorative easel at the corner of the small glass room.
The dining area, which was created by removing a wall from the front hall, is equally elegant with its Provencal-style dining table with high-backed chairs and crystal chandelier with pleated satin shades. A stunning French armoire — with soft green glazing, wooden doors and trellis-like touches — is a favorite piece of Gorman's.
A mainstay of Gorman's design preference is the collection of magnificent reproductions of famous paintings, most of which are in the Impressionist style.
"My 'Henri Matisse' at the top of my stairway has always been one of my favorites," she said. "He was such a master in incorporating designs, colors, shapes and patterns. I always aim for that diversified approach for my clients."
Gorman's second floor includes a guest room, an office where she brings her clients and, finally, one of the favorite rooms she has designed — her bedroom. Here she has created an elegant window design from wall to wall with cream tonal sheers under a valence of pleated floral fabric. A cream-toned spread with cutout swirls and a center medallion sits on her oak bed. In the corner sit a French Provincial-style writing desk and an oversized chair with a large hassock.
While French country is her personal preference, she tells her clients not to "hesitate to ask your designer [to] do work in other styles whether it is contemporary, traditional, Victorian, French, English, cluttered, uncluttered or minimal."
She attributes her success — both in her own home and the work she does for clients — to extensive traveling.
"My travels to France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Antigua, Yugoslavia and Israel have added to my ability to incorporate some of what I have seen into my work … without being over the top," she said. "My very best design decisions come when I am trying to get to sleep!"
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