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Lifestyle Home & Garden

Couple's retreat

It's not every couple that can take full advantage of a 3,500-square-foot townhouse.

"We use every room in this house," said Jennifer Foster of the property, which has three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a brick patio and a courtyard garden leading to a two-car garage. "It's about relevance."

Born and raised in Philadelphia, and residing in Chestertown before moving to the Butchers Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, Foster, 48, purchased the townhouse in 2004 in order to return to what she calls "my urban love."

Make that two loves — since moving, she met and recently married her other true love, John Davis, a 52-year-old former trial lawyer turned professor, who also owns Debate Solutions, a company that hosts professional, often political debates.

Foster, senior vice president of Sun Trust Investment Services, said that the property, which she purchased for $507,000, had been extensively rehabbed by its former owners.

"[For three years] we have been redoing the house to make it ours," she said. The couple spent several thousand on improvements that included new furniture, carpeting and kitchen counters and paint for every room.

"We put in this counter, and it changed the heartbeat of this house," Foster said of the light, texturized Brazilian granite that graces the kitchen. "We wanted warm; we wanted rich. We wanted to wrap the house around us."

Warm, rich, light-filled and open are the main elements of the townhome that greet visitors once inside the double doors. The concept and its execution remain consistent throughout.

Where once there was a long hall, there is now a large vestibule with double columns framing the living room. Window sills, molding, shutters and a tray ceiling, as well as built-in bookcases that straddle a brick fireplace, are all painted white, as though outlining the yellow wall paint, aptly named "No. 2 Pencil." Contemporary furniture in the living room includes a crescent-shaped, micro-fiber and tufted sofa and corduroy covered boudoir chairs that surround a bright rug in shades of orange and yellow on oak flooring.

A plaster wall has been converted to exposed brick, providing a contemporary-looking exhibit wall for unusual art pieces collected by the couple.

"This is a 12-foot Native American mortar table carved from a log," Davis pointed out.

Farther along the brick wall, an open, wrought-iron staircase leads to the home's third level, visible from the ground floor. An addition to the back of the house allows for more kitchen space under a cathedral ceiling as well as a second-floor loft that Davis has turned into his home office.

The kitchen, with its cherry wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, hanging wine rack and gleaming copper pottery, can be seen from the staircase.

On the second level, which has leopard-print carpeting, a large guest room doubles as Foster's office. Here, a kidney-shaped mahogany desk with an inlaid animal print marble top is a stunning presence in the room.

The third floor features two bathrooms, two dressing rooms and a master bedroom painted dark burgundy with a gray accent wall. A king-size mahogany sleigh bed sets a traditional tone, as does a floral damask love seat with camel back.

Foster enjoys sitting at her square, pecan wood dining room table sipping her coffee and watching the couple's dog, a standard American poodle named Bailey, sprawl in his favorite cozy area under the staircase.

"For years I would go with the flow as my career took me to different places," she said. "[But] I've spent the last four years of my life building a home with [my] partner," she said. "Now the house feels like us in a way I never felt before."

Making the dream

Dream element: The home is a three-story, red-brick townhouse, built circa 1900. Less than a block from Patterson Park, it is in the Butchers Hill neighborhood, a community known for its urban renewal and renovation.

Dream exterior: The home is adorned by elegant embellishments, including intricately carved wooden roof cornices, double front doors and marble front steps.

Dream interior: Jennifer Foster describes home's decor as contemporary, flavorful, eclectic, upscale and urban. Bestowing credit on her husband, John Davis, for his style and flair, she said, "I come home to surprises every day!"

Dream design: The couple displays carefully chosen pieces of art throughout the house. The one criterion is that all of the works be meaningful to them. Pieces include an abstract painting by local artist Minas Konsolas hanging above the living room fireplace, and on the staircase wall an eye-catching wooden bas relief of a harvest goddess, almost 6 feet tall with gold leaf applied at the folds of her dress.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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