For every newcomer to Baltimore, the story of what brought about the move is varied, but there is often a common theme: a desire to sample city life.
The O'Beirnes are no different, but the couple's approach to settling in Butchers Hill involved a bit of trial and error.
"When all of our children moved away from home, we decided to try city living," said Andrew "Drew" O'Beirne, 69, a retired president of a biotech startup company. "Over the next few years, we purchased houses in different areas until we found Butchers Hill and its welcoming community. We kept looking at homes [there] until we found the one that had the potential to be remolded into our vision of the perfect home."
That vision centered on family. Drew O'Beirne and his wife, Patricia, a 63-year-old attorney for Medtronic, have six grown children and anticipate many grandchildren, who will be welcomed with open arms and a large home to visit.
The couple found their rowhouse, a three-story brick structure and one-half of a duplex, in 2003 and purchased it for $500,000.
"The house was very livable," Drew O'Beirne said. "The [previous] owner was a young guy who rehabbed and did the basic plumbing and electric."
The home's 4,500 square feet of living space was spread through three levels and a finished basement. The interior boasted dimensions of 90 feet deep by 18 feet wide, narrowing to 15 feet halfway to the back, where a sally port provided side windows and extra brightness to rooms with 12-foot ceilings.
"The house was always built for kids," noted Drew O'Beirne, whose own renovation began with the installation of a home theater and playroom in the lower level. From that starting point, work continued with a rooftop deck featuring its own kitchen.
The main kitchen was remodeled and divided into two distinct areas — one for cooking, the other for baking. Two granite-topped islands, three ovens, a six-burner Wolf stove and a Sub-Zero refrigerator are nestled among glazed maple cabinetry.
"Having participated in the design and layout of the renovation, both my wife and I helped create the perfect playground for trying new recipes and everyday cooking," Drew O'Beirne said. "But the kitchen is more than a place to prepare food; it is the heart of the house, where family members and guests gather to tell stories, reminisce, debate politics, and just chat while the meal is being prepared."
To that end, the couple turned to Marianne Fishman of Row House Interiors, who decorated the home, creating spaces like a cozy kitchen corner where a booth, its benches loaded down with cushions and pillows, sits by a brick fireplace-like opening that holds a cabinet.
Fishman said elegant but cozy was her guideline throughout the home's transformation.
"The O'Beirnes were open to using color, and multiple patterns, opulent details and many of the details that have made their home so special," she said. "When I first saw their home, it was also my dream home, so I designed everything with their needs and wishes in mind. ... I wanted things to look like they have been there and with the family for many years."
After the kitchen remodel, work began on the installation of flooring throughout the first level, followed by the addition of a garage in a the space where a parking pad had been behind the home.
Next, an elevator was installed, running up and down all four levels. Drew O'Beirne estimated the total cost of the renovation to date to be equal to what he paid for the house. "Needless to say, we're going to die in this house," he said.
Built-ins of mahogany grace the walls of the first-floor dining room, where the couple has created an aquarium populated by glass fish and vegetation.
An curved staircase ascends from the living room to the second and third floors where, in addition to the master suite and bath, two guest suites with full bathrooms are found. The renovated master bedroom and bathroom is accented by a dressing room outfitted with crystal sconces and beveled mirrors.
Construction continues at the rear of the third level, where a large addition has been designed to accommodate visitors.
"Over the past 10 years, we have slowly gone from room to room and created everything we wanted in a home," said Drew O'Beirne, "so now whatever room we enter makes us, and our extended family and friends, feel like they are at home."
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