Just inside the front door of Jeri Goodman's 10th-floor condominium unit, a highly polished silver sculpture of a pug rests on a hall table, frozen in puppy playfulness. Across the room, a bright red ceramic Buddha on a desk smiles a broad welcome.
Wooden penguins frolic in a line at the living room window sill, one pointing its head toward a giant copper patina frog — a sculpture from the backyard of her childhood home — sitting on the bench of a black lacquer baby grand piano.
Whimsy is the essence of Goodman's interior design, much of it reflecting the owner's sparkling personality.
"I am surrounded by all of my favorite things!" she gushed. "Moving from a 450-square-foot apartment in New York City to [an apartment] over 1,000 square feet has given me space to design a home that totally fits my needs."
Upon returning home to Baltimore after finishing graduate studies in Manhattan, Goodman, a 26-year-old schoolteacher, wanted a place with trees and open spaces, yet located near downtown Baltimore. She longed for the palpable neighborhood ambience that surrounded her in Greenwich Village, and also wanted shops and restaurants within walking distance. And her new home had to be pet friendly — that was non-negotiable for her and Hugo, her pug.
She found a condominium in the Village of Cross Keys' Harper House in Baltimore that fit all of her requirements in one neat package. In January 2010, Goodman spent $145,000 for a one-bedroom unit with a den.
"When I first walked in, there were hot pink walls, mirrors everywhere and the original dated [1970s-style] kitchen," Goodman remembered. "Everything was so dark, [and] it wasn't interesting at all."
In the beginning, she couldn't quite put her finger on the problem. She would buy a rug that simply did not work or she would hang a picture or place a sculpture and knew instantly that the look was all wrong.
"I love shabby chic — furniture that is eclectic, but matters to me," she said.
Goodman consulted a designer friend, Steve Appel, who got right to the heart of the problem. The first thing he recommended was constructing a narrow wall to separate the front door from the rest of the rooms, thus suggesting a small foyer. That structural change cost about $5,000. Walls would eventually be painted gray, and the den, with the addition of French doors to separate it from the living room, would be covered in wallpaper — a white background with the silhouettes of chandeliers in black.
With a first-things-first approach, the 1970s kitchen was escorted into the 21st century at a cost of $20,000. Kitchen Masters, the designer and builder, gave the room a clean, black-and-white look with cabinets and subway tiles for a backsplash. A diagonal black granite and white marble floor provides an uptown look.
"Opening up the wall gave me the kitchen I always wanted [with] the farmhouse sink I just had to have," Goodman said.
Beyond the kitchen, Goodman said her favorite room is the den, which she calls her "jewel box."
"I love, love, love everything about this room — the beautiful French doors, the black-and-white chandelier wallpaper, the Lane desk I had since I was a little girl, which was repainted with glossy white paint and gold leafing to give it a vintage look."
Vintage, too, is her old-fashioned standing scale and a floor lamp made from a dress model.
"If I were to pick my favorite piece in the whole apartment, it would have to be my maison desk by Four Hands," she said. It looks like an old hotel desk with cubbyholes for messages and brass key hooks for hanging keys and other items."
When asked how she could have one favorite piece, Goodman explained, "This place is so me. And that was the goal!"
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Making the dream
Dream element: Jeri Goodman lives in a condominium at the gated Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. A planned community, Cross Keys was the 1965 project of the model developer, James Rouse. Goodman's view from her balcony, as well as from her windows, is of treetops and the Jones Falls Valley.
Dream design: The 30-year-old brick high-rise known as Harper House towers over the rest of the "village" and features an abundance of windows and balconies. The building also has a doorman, concierge and valet service.
Dream interior: "I like to call my look "shabby chic meets Soho hip," said Goodman, who has also made room for some family treasures. "I have a patchwork, denim sofa that my mother had made from all our old jeans from our childhood," she said. "I hope to pass this sofa down to my children and their children."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun