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Renovation allows couple's creativity to shine through

Traditional is a word rarely found in the vocabulary of Michael and Jennifer Schiff — except when defined as love for family, friends and each other.

"Different is the theme of our lives," explained Jennifer Schiff, a 30-year-old real estate agent and co-owner of Staging Divas, a home staging company in Baltimore. "We wanted a home that was unique; one that people would walk into and [say] wow!"

The couple found that uniqueness in the five-bedroom, four-bath Pikesville mid-century modern home they purchased from the original owners in 2010 for $200,000.

No sooner had the ink dried on the contract than the Schiffs proceeded to gut the interior in a complete renovation that would cost an additional $300,000.

Built ranch-style of brick and siding in 1957, the lower level contains the full dimensions of the main floor for a total of 5,300 square feet of living – and entertaining — space. Unique to the front "yard" is a brick-paved motor court that can accommodate up to thirty cars. Behind the house, almost a full acre of property boasts a multi-level deck area, a rock garden, in-ground pool and patio, old trees and, beyond that, a private and expansive lawn.

Indeed, "party house" is an apt description for the property, where the Schiffs enjoy hosting large gatherings.

"I have a lot of party decor from the business and I like to do stylized, themed parties," said Jennifer Schiff. "In June, we threw a 30th white-themed birthday party outside for my sister-in-law and an engagement party for my brother in early August."

She explained that summer fetes are set up outdoors and winter holidays and celebrations take place in their lower level, where the couple has created a full venue, complete with a lounge area, dance floor, powder room and bar.

"This house is deceiving from the outside," said Michael Schiff, a 31-year-old real estate agent who, along with his wife, makes up the Schiff Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Baltimore. "We have quite a bit of space here."

As part of the renovation, the Schiffs knocked down most of the interior walls, leaving just enough to allow for differentiated spaces on the main level that consists of a living room, dining room, sitting room, master bedroom, bathroom and a complete guest wing. The home's kitchen is as large as is found in many restaurants and outfitted equally as well.

"The original owners kept two kitchens, one [of which] was kosher," said Michael Schiff. "We just opened the two of them up."

Jennifer Schiff's design for the kitchen includes shades of white, black and gray. Against walls painted a white semi-gloss are two separate islands painted gray and topped with thick slabs of granite grained to look like marble.

Pendant lights with gray globes hang over one of the islands. The rest of the cabinetry is painted black with stainless handles that pick up the dull shine of the stainless appliances. The floor is dark gray with 12-by-24-inch tiles of engineered porcelain.

"[This] kitchen allows for endless possibilities, whether entertaining guests or spending time one-on-one cooking our favorite meals together," said Michael Schiff.

The living room, adjacent to the kitchen, features pops of teal in several of the accent pieces, while the dining room highlights plum and black.

"My heart is modern," said Jennifer Schiff. "And the dining room has a glamorous feel."

With the ambience of a 1930s Hollywood film set, a custom-made table of black Formica, 4-feet wide by 10-feet long, sits under a coffered ceiling, lit by a crystal chandelier whose tiny glass pieces have been strung by hand. High-backed chairs of plum colored microfiber hug the table. A sitting room just beyond the dining room, boasts large pieces of purple upholstered, art deco furniture.

The master suite is also monochromatic in design. An entire wall has been treated to two shades of gray — a dark, flat base topped by a lighter gray gloss painted in a flourish pattern to give the appearance of damask fabric. Gray silk curtains are at the window, while a gray damask spread decorates a bed with a white, leather-tufted headboard.

"Our bedroom has such a luxurious [look]," said Michael Schiff, "and makes us feel like we are somewhere special every day of our lives."

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