Silo Point condo takes industrial living to a new level

Matt Nickasch's home is anything but typical — he lives in the tower of a repurposed grain silo in Locust Point. His condo on the 18th floor is marked as a "bin" instead of a unit, a nod to industrial days long gone.

"I've always been a fan of historic reuse," said the 27-year old technical consultant for the federal government. "From the historical artifacts of the 1920s structure to all of the modern conveniences and amenities, I feel that it provides the best of all worlds — old and new."

There was, indeed, a former life for Silo Point as a grain terminal for the B&O; Railroad — once considered the fastest grain elevator in the world. Built in 1923, its size allowed it to move almost 4 million bushels of grain yearly onto rail cars, and from there the grain would be loaded on ships for export. Today, 228 luxury units comprise the industrial-looking complex with a 24-story tower.

Nickasch bought his one-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot unit in February for $425,000. There was one owner before him, and, for the most part, little needed to be done. Nickasch painted the entire unit in three shades of gray to provide a neutral backdrop for his furnishings, which he describes as midcentury modern.

No fan of clutter, "less is more" defines his design scheme. It's far from a minimalist decor, however, and each piece of furniture is carefully placed throughout the kitchen, living room, dining room and large master bedroom suite.

He has chosen to highlight the view from windows along the entire east side of the condo and from his covered outdoor patio. (A western-facing view is showcased outside his front door, where the opposite side of the hall is encased in a series of windows.)

Nickasch notices the little things from the views both inside his condo and from the bright hall.

"Whether it is the water taxi coming and going, the new cargo ships arriving at the Locust Point terminal, the view of the Natty Boh sign, Fort McHenry and the Key Bridge, I'm always reminded of the vibrant harbor that Baltimore has," said the Wisconsin native. "It's always a changing landscape when I look out the window, and no two views are ever the same."

Within his bachelor pad, he calls the living room his favorite, explaining that "it has a modern loft-in-the-sky feel, but contains elements of the 1923 original structure, especially the concrete columns."

Nickasch was skeptical about the condo's layout initially, but felt relieved once he got his furniture moved in — most of which were purchased from Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel and Room & Board in Washington.

His kitchen is U-shaped with a breakfast bar that provides ample space to stretch out as he prepares dinner for friends.

"The dining room was an exceptionally challenging space because of the adjacent patio," he said. "The [room] is narrow and flanked by two massive, original concrete columns. Fitting in the bar, the table and the accent chair were necessary while still allowing room to pass between the living room and the bedroom."

Two of the most outstanding accents in his neutral palette are his art collection and his impeccable use of area lighting, which both provide warmth and contrast to the cool, modern feel of the furniture. The artwork is mostly abstract landscape canvas prints.

"Most of the colors are centered around deep reds, oranges, and golden yellows ... and are very calming," he said. "I added picture lights above the artwork to bring out the color especially at night."

The lighting sources are varied but have one thing in common — each of them is automated and programmed to come on at night. These include cylindrical "candles" on a dining room shelving unit, floor lighting behind chairs and plants, and even Nickasch's floor lamps. There is also the ability to change the colors of the lighting. That — along with automated window shades that block light but not the view, and a central sound system — allows him to be creative when setting the mood for his guests.

Nickasch's very large bedroom includes space for his home office. The contrast of white linens (purchased from Restoration Hardware's Hotel Collection) and dark furniture is dramatic. A telescope sits at his window beside a chrome floor lamp and his classic Eames midcentury modern lounge chair in black leather.

A covered balcony can be accessed from both his living room and bedroom, giving the interior living space a U shape. Walls of the balcony are covered in corrugated tin. The year-round outdoor furniture is modern, cushioned in gray and accented with orange pillows and a hassock.

In this "tight-knit neighborhood," Nickasch is pleased to say he knows 90 percent of his neighbors at Silo Point and enjoys all the social activities there. Still, it is all about those little things he can see from his deck and windows.

"My condo at Silo Point brings together a beautifully restored historical reuse project with an amazing view of the Baltimore harbor," he said.

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