When Gunther and Linda Than moved into their one-bedroom unit in Canton's Anchorage Tower condominiums, they really downsized.
The Thans moved from their larger unit in the Anchorage to one of the smallest at less than 1,000 square feet of living space, which includes the outdoor balcony. The entire front of the condo (living room, dining area, master bedroom and balcony), like every unit in the Anchorage Tower, has a water view, as well as a view of the city skyline and beyond.
"Every unit here has a great view [so] we never considered going anywhere else," said Linda, 60. "We're right on the water [and] we have a houseboat down on the pier below."
With their primary residence in Golden, Colo. (which they refer to as "the homestead"), the couple wanted a Baltimore-based condo for the times they needed to be near their business, View Systems Inc., a digital weapons-detection systems operation located on the west side of the city. Gunther is the CEO of the company, which also employs his wife. While at one time they considered relocating the business, their final decision was to keep it in Baltimore and continue maintaining an in-town residence.
The couple decided to gut the existing space and begin again. "We didn't leave much of anything here", noted Brian Thim, design director and partner at Rita St. Clair Associates, one of Baltimore's premier interior design companies.
As a member of the condominium board, Linda had worked with Thim on past projects in the common areas of the building, such as the re-design of the corridors. She had confidence in his work and had no qualms about having him completely redo her new space.
While the space was relatively small, it was not without its challenges, and Thim realized that at his first meeting with the Thans. He recalls "walking through the unit and listening to their wish list, thinking, 'How am I going to give them everything they want within the confines of these walls?' "
He added, however, "I love challenges like this — it puts my space-planning capabilities to the test."
"We would sit on the balcony and discuss what I wanted," Linda said, remembering that her designer and friend brought tile samples, wood samples and various other interior suggestions. "At the very first presentation, I knew this was it."
And so the work began. The Thans wanted a relaxing environment, serene and with a neutral decor. Their home was to be a respite from a hectic workday. At the same time, they preferred a minimal amount of furniture — a mix of modern, contemporary and transitional. They also wanted open space, but at the same time, there had to be warm and cozy touches.
A wish granted is evident at the very first step into the unit. Walls in the living and dining areas are painted the lightest shade of beige with a contrasting wall in sage green.
"The unit is framed in wood and provides a bit of warmth," Thim said of the use of built-in cabinets fashioned of red birch lining the wall behind the dining area and on the L-shaped kitchen cabinets. One section even drops to a Murphy bed when the Thans' grandson visits. The kitchen also had stainless-steel appliances and a granite-topped island accented with four leather and brushed aluminum bar stools.
Pulling in all of the soft colors of the wood and glazed porcelain tile flooring throughout the unit, the backsplash features warm-toned glass tiles.
The bedroom in this angular unit is highlighted by the use of lacquered cabinets with acid-etched glass doors. Thim also custom-designed the red birch wall unit behind the bed to include floating night tables and an unusual headboard of red leather tiles encased in a shiny metal frame.
With the unit's three immense windows and walls, all at an angle, Thim's job was to draw the eye outward toward the spectacular views. To this end, he plans to install window shades for sun control and simple, tailored drapery panels. Other furnishings on order are a new "Cyclone Table" designed by Isamu Noguchi and first produced in 1957. This table compliments the existing Bertoia side chairs, all from Knoll. The ceiling fixture in the dining room will be a Louis Poulsen pendant light with spun-aluminum shades.
As he continues to add decor touches to Gunther and Linda Than's residence, Thim explains the work he provides by stating, "What makes a great project is working with great clients. You have to mesh well and be as open to their thoughts as they [are] to yours. You are designing a space for them to live in and use, not [one to] just look at in a magazine."