Nick Waldner had been searching a long time to find the right property in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood — specifically, a derelict shell of a house that he could get at a good price and completely renovate.
When he found the perfect end-of group, just one block from Patterson Park, it seemed to come with a hidden warning. There were two traffic signs just outside the door at the dilapidated house's cross streets: "Stop Ahead" and "Do Not Enter." Waldner quickly brushed off the feeling that the signs might be an omen and put in a bid. That was in June 2012, and for $150,000, he purchased the 16-by-80-foot crumbling disaster.
"The house was in foreclosure," recalled Waldner, a 34-year-old agent with Keller Williams Realty. "There [was] mold everywhere, the roof caved in and also the floor of the apartment upstairs. Appliances were falling through to the [ground] floor."
What happened next was a delay of seven months to resolve legal issues. Waldner remembers that every time it rained, he would worry how much worse the roofless property could possibly get. But then, in February 2013, the contractors got to work. The entire house was stripped down to just the brick walls.
"Twelve other buyers bid on this house," he said. "I found out later that mine was only $5,000 more than the top bidder."
Today, the sight of a contemporary interior, renovated in just four months at a cost of $300,000, makes the story of a former wreck seem like an impossibility — except that Waldner has so many "before" photos.
"Working directly with my builder, I was able to realize every aspect of my renovation exactly as I pictured it," he said. "From the simple details like dark, exotic hardwoods, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances to the more impressive aspects, like coffered ceilings, extensive moldings and a spa-like master bath."
The results can be seen at the first step into the home via an angled front entrance, a legacy of the building's former life as a corner store, which also explains the large front window. A 9-foot-high coffered ceiling runs the length of the first level. Natural light is abundant, with sunlight streaming through side windows on the first and second levels. White paneling on the lower half of the living room and dining room walls adds elegance and contrast to a wall of original brick.
The kitchen area beyond the dining room features a 3-by 6-foot center island with granite countertops. Ceramic tile, white like the cabinetry, is laid subway-style from under the cabinets flush to the countertop.
"The entire home is a collection of texture and warmth," Waldner noted. "I loved the juxtaposition of reclaimed wood and steel furniture with the soft touches provided by my mom. She has a fantastic sense of style and has helped me really bring the entire vision together."
These touches, he says, include silk flowers on tables, pops of color in throw pillows spread about the chairs and sectional sofa of a deep gray, and candles on end tables that are also accented with framed photographs.
The second level features two bedrooms and an office along with three full baths. Waldner leads the way along the bright second-story hallway through his master bedroom, decorated in urban transitional mahogany pieces, and into his favorite room — the master bath.
"I wanted a bath that resembled a high-end spa … that could easily be found in the Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton," he said. "I chose Carrara marble throughout because I love the natural variations and clean feel of the white marble. It also went so well with the gray walls and white double vanity.
"To give it an even more luxurious feel, I added heated floors throughout and a massive 6-foot-by-5-foot walk-in shower with 11 jets including, a calming rainfall shower head. Since the home is an end unit, I was even able to include two windows for added natural light and warmth."
From the 14-by-25-foot rooftop deck, the magnificent views of the city are enjoyed by all the friends Waldner loves entertaining.
"This home has everything I pictured and more," he said. "Not only was the design fantastic, but the finishings used were all top-notch. I couldn't be happier with the finished product. It is simply my envisioned dream."
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Making the dream
Dream realized: "I planned and dreamed about this property for over 21/2 years," Waldner said. "I knew that I wanted a very wide lot with parking or garage potential, and I wanted to be in the heart of Canton."
Dream location: "I enjoy being close to Patterson Park, the proximity to the harbor and the extensive selection of great restaurants and bars," Waldner said. "I work out a lot, and having the water so close for a long run is ideal. Canton has gotten even better with the addition of Target and Harris Teeter. It has simply become the best community in Baltimore for a successful, single 30-something looking for the excitement of city living."
Dream design: "I chose clean lines and neutral colors for a nice transitional feel but also wanted extensive textures and textiles to give the home depth," Waldner pointed out. "I worked a lot with reclaimed wood, repurposed steel, subtle leather and comfortable cotton. I wanted a masculine finished product combined with soft touches and accessories to give the home warmth."