It wasn't until Jeanette Cole began feeling uncomfortable surrounded by countless antiques in her Federal Hill townhouse that she and her husband, William, decided to make a major change.
While the move wasn't far — less than a mile south out on Locust Point — the brand-new townhouse in the Pulte development of McHenry Pointe would be a 180-degree turn for them.
"I felt that I was being owned by things," Jeanette Cole says.
And so the couple put the bulk of their antiques on the auction block and began a fresh start in 2006. Her husband, William Cole, who was seriously ill at the time of the move, died a year ago — but not without a master plan.
"My husband wanted to be sure I was in a place that was safe, comfortable and new; one that our grandchildren could visit and put their feet up on the furniture," she says.
The grandchildren — Caitlin, 11, Chelsea, 9, and William, 5 — live nearby. And not only do they make themselves at home, but Cole has given them their own space in the three-bedroom, three-story house with rooftop deck that was purchased four years ago for $570,000.
She chose modern decor for the entire home at a cost of more than $75,000. "I wanted simple, streamlined and contemporary," says Cole, who finds the angular nature of the interior architecture brings out the best in her choices of furniture pieces.
The ground floor consists of an office, laundry room and two-car garage, but it is above this that the Cole family spends the most time.
In the second level's open floor plan, the windows, like those throughout the house, are covered with sleek accordion blinds, raised for spectacular city and water views. Geometrically colorful rugs sit on oak floors defining living room, dining room and kitchen/family room. A solid, dark walnut dining-room suite includes a large table for entertaining.
The family room's surprise lies in its brightly hued furnishings. Always wanting to own a red sofa, Cole got her wish in a vinyl and leather tomato-colored sofa that coordinates pleasingly with two white armchairs in the same fabric. A very old pine hutch that belonged to her husband's mother sits in a corner of the room. It is one of three pieces, along with a few choice carved decoys, that were the only items the couple brought from their Federal Hill house. Photos of her late husband and her grandchildren are placed on table tops and hung on walls throughout the home.
The third-floor bedrooms are also of modern design and include a master bedroom as well as separate bedrooms — one painted pink, one purple — for each granddaughter. The home's fourth-floor deck room, the "bedroom" of young William, opens onto a 10-foot-wide, three-sided deck with breathtaking city and harbor views.
Of every convenience city living provides her, one of Jeanette Cole's favorites is the homeowner's association that, among other things, takes care of nasty cold-weather chores.
"During last year's blizzards, I never picked up a shovel," she said.
Making the dream
Dream element: Jeanette Cole's townhouse in the development of McHenry Pointe along Fort Avenue in Baltimore has beautiful city and water views.
Dream design: The three-story home's solid brick exterior introduces clean modern design that is congruent with the historic rowhouse architecture nearby. From her rooftop deck, Cole is able to enjoy fabulous views in addition to the water, such as Fort McHenry and the downtown skyline.
Dream interior: The home is open and rooms are spacious within a compact area. In the spirit of less is more, Cole's furnishings are sleek and modern — pieces are designed with a platform appearance (without legs) as seen in a sectional sofa of beige microfiber. A dark walnut dining-room suite provides dramatic contrast to the lighter, upholstered fabrics in the living room, further illustrating that modern design does not always mean chrome and glass.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun