GrandView, a condominium highrise in the heart of Annapolis Towne Centre, certainly lives up to its name, especially in the 12th-floor penthouse of Barry and Olga Scher.
In this three-bedroom, 3½-bath unit with a den, living room, dining room, open kitchen and two balconies, the couple marvels at the views of the Bay Bridge and the sailboats, cruise and cargo ships that pass beneath it daily.
Former residents of Washington's Georgetown/Palisades neighborhood, the Schers, tired of climbing the stairs in their four-story home, set about searching the area for the perfect condo, even checking out the Capital's infamous Watergate complex.
"We looked for many months … but never found one as large as the unit we purchased [here] or with reasonable condo fees, and believe me, we looked everywhere," said Barry Scher, the retired vice president of public affairs for Giant Food.
When the couple visited GrandView, they finally found what they were looking for and moved into their 3,700-square-foot, $1.2 million penthouse in June 2011.
"When we moved here the walls were white," said Olga Scher, a former personal assistant to James Kimsey, founding chairman of AOL. "We pulled up the carpeting and painted all the rooms in 10 days."
Before moving, the Schers gave all of their furniture to their children since the condo's high ceilings and large rooms called for a change in decor. Olga Scher chose almost all of her furniture from Ethan Allen's collection of pieces that speak to urban casual elegance. The remaining furniture is made up of a few family heirlooms and custom wall units in the den and office.
The home is, in fact, one complete design vision of neutral shades of furniture, along with sconces, paintings and other objets d'art hanging on walls painted Benjamin Moore's shades of Moss Green, Deep Chestnut and Mushroom, all working in tandem with the unit's open layout and 10-foot-high tray ceilings.
The living room, for example, has been created around a seating configuration of a traditional sofa with two occasional chairs placed perpendicular on either end. This layout defines a cozy area for chatting in front of the gas fireplace. An Oriental carpet of predominant green and beige colors, as well as an eye-catching crystal chandelier framed inside a steel orb, define the space without limiting movement.
The home's open, U-shape kitchen features cherry cabinets and granite countertops. A white metal chandelier strung with lifelike strawberries on vines hangs over a central island.
A formal dining room boasts a cherry table that seats eight comfortably and an heirloom buffet that looks as if it was meant to be part of the ensemble. A large mirror, framed in geometric shapes, hangs over the buffet.
One wide wall is a gallery of framed paintings and prints, along with two concave mirrors placed in gilt starbursts. A wrought-iron chandelier with shaded candles hangs over the table for an elegant finishing touch.
Living room, dining room, kitchen and den are at the core of this residence. Wings on either end of the unit each comprise a master bedroom and separate bathroom. One side includes an office with bathroom; on the other side is a den accessed by French doors.
"Our two-entrance penthouse is so large that when I come home, I often yell out to my wife, 'Which wing are you in?' " said Barry Scher.
He also pointed out that the building itself features amenities including a gym, massage room, two lounges with bars for parties and a rooftop pool.
More than all of the perks, however, is the sense of community present in the building, the opportunity for residents to visit one another to socialize and plan events as a "neighborhood." There have been times when Olga Scher leaves her car parked for a week or two and walks to the upscale boutiques on the ground floor of their building or to the Target across the street.
Additionally, the couple has been meeting others who have discovered that their little Towne Centre is one of the best-kept secrets in the Baltimore-Washington area.
"Our friends never, ever thought we would leave D.C., but we found a paradise in Annapolis," said Barry Scher.
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Making the dream
Dream realized: The Schers have found a carefree and spacious lifestyle in an urban setting where Barry Scher notes there are "great amenities, terrific and very social neighbors, and convenient shopping." He points to a variety of restaurants from high-end to bistro and three major food chains, all within walking distance. "We are also less than a mile from Annapolis Mall, the Anne Arundel Medical Center and 15 minutes from the Washington Beltway and two hours from our Delaware beach home."
Dream area: We love our living room," said Barry Scher. It is our place to get away from television and converse in front of the fireplace [sipping] a glass of wine. When friends show up, as they often do, we can easily accommodate 10 guests. However, the men usually migrate to the free-standing bar and the women like to sit in the living room area."
Personal dream touches: Barry Scher is thrilled with the way he and his wife have personalized their elegant space in the sky, and he notes, "Aside from removing all of the new carpeting, we installed African mahogany wood flooring throughout our new home and special lighting in several rooms, including a large-orb chandelier in the living room and a unique strawberry chandelier above the kitchen island. We also had a custom wall unit built for our joint office, as well as custom closets installed throughout our unit." Olga Scher has added her personal touch with several silk flower arrangements that she designed and put together.