Brian Dermitt is ready for the rave reviews from visitors who arrive at his front door:

"This is not your typical Cross Keys condo," he says.


The spacious open-floor plan, contemporary decor and large windows of his seventh-floor unit at Harper House in the Village of Cross Keys make that evident.

"The larger apartments on the ends and corners go quickly, but this sat on the market for two years," says Dermitt, a 45-year-old buyer for Shofer's Furniture in Federal Hill. "It was a three-bedroom floor plan [but] dated, and we gutted it."

Dermitt and his now-husband paid $227,000 for the south-, north- and west-facing unit in early 2009. Among many other improvements, they created drop ceilings to run speaker wires and track lighting, turned one of the bedrooms into a formal living room, and redesigned the floor plan for an open and circular flow.

Within three weeks of the final renovation, Dermitt had made all of the decor decisions. He chose a beige-and-gray color scheme and, naturally, all of the furnishings were purchased at Shofer's.

"I surround myself with color all day at work, so when I come home [I want] a serene palette, comfortable, not rigid, sterile or hard-edged, but a warmer version of [contemporary]," Dermitt says.

This goal is achieved throughout the 1,800-square-foot space.

A small foyer opens to three walls of windows (with beige linen draperies and solar shades) and a door leading to a balcony. Plants in earthen pots and both abstract and traditional artwork provide the color, as do the rich tones of the chestnut floors, creating what Dermitt calls a "high-low contrast, but in neutral."

The kitchen and dining area dominate the south side of the condominium. White maple cabinets with long, chrome handles coordinate well with a mosaic tile backsplash and quartz countertops. Stainless appliances and porcelain tile add to the sleek effect.

Grasscloth wallpaper adorns the walls of the dining area. The room features a large window bench upholstered with chalk-striped velvet and a 54-inch square pedestal table that expands with a leaf. Three brown lacquer fretwork chairs surround the table. The room's geometric theme is complemented by patterned window shades.

"My husband and I are usually together in the same room during the evenings, so the open floor plan works," Dermitt says. "While he is cooking, I'm in the family room watching TV."

The family room, adjacent to the kitchen and dining area, is furnished with a beige velvet sectional and a silver 8-by-10-foot hair-on-hide carpet. A flat-screen TV sits on a three-shelf walnut unit, and a four-door credenza on the opposite wall balances the room.

"The credenza [in the] family room was the only piece salvaged from the previous owner," Dermitt says. "I removed the deck, lacquered the cabinet, refinished the hardware and added the marble top. We converted the inside to a bar with wine storage."

A formal living room, painted in dark gray, is behind frosted-glass pocket doors. A large abstract painting in provides a dramatic pop. The room is furnished with leather occasional chairs, a chest, a tuxedo-style mohair sofa, a beige linen armchair and a gold-leaf wood cabinet.

An office doubles as a guest room on the north side of the condo. A two-cushion leather sofa bed is flanked by bookshelves, and the opposite wall has built-in bookshelves, a desk, computer and mounted TV.


The master bedroom, which Dermitt refers to as "comfortable, not busy," is decorated in cherry. Over a sleigh bed hangs one of his favorite pieces of art: a long photo on aluminum of a London Underground terminal.

"It brings back great memories from my year abroad after university," he says.

The condo's circular flow is conducive to parties and entertaining, while the decor "reflects a contemporary lifestyle and is respectful to the architecture" of Harper House," Dermitt says.