It seems that everyone at Canton Cove, a waterfront condominium complex east of Fells Point, knows Harvey Goldberg's two-story unit, even if they've never met the owner. People strolling along the harborside promenade can see his two big dogs peering intently from an upper bedroom window. Residents who have never been inside his home comment on the proliferation of plants, brimming wildly over his deck in direct contrast to the manicured lawn beyond it.
Goldberg's waterfront home is, indeed, a standout. The 61-year-old bachelor got exactly the design he wanted, and it couldn't please him more.
"I wanted a place where, every time you turn a corner, you see something new and interesting," said Goldberg, chairman at Vistage International, where he serves as an executive coach and speaker for CEOs and business owners worldwide.
Interest begins at the threshold of the complex's street-side entrance, which opens onto a modern marble lobby. Subdued lighting complements a contemporary decor. Tapestries hung on the walls contrast with steel beams, which are a reminder of the building's industrial past as a waterfront warehouse.
Goldberg's unit is at the end of a short hall. He and his dogs — Jag, a bull terrier and great Dane mix, and Pax, a border collie mix — stand in greeting at his open front door. The three are backlit against the southeastern sun filtering through a two-story wall of windows. After the low lighting of the hall, the condo's interior is lit like a movie set at high noon, yet not single electric light is turned on.
"You don't feel like you're in a condo," said Goldberg, a bachelor. "There are three stories and 1,800 square feet here."
After the light, the next of nature's gifts is an abundance of living indoor foliage — everywhere — as though visitors were plunked down in a tree house in the rain forest. Stately and green stands a two-story ficus tree in front of the windows. Ming aralia, philodendron and a variety of ferns are in proximity to one another, while the platter-sized leaves of an elephant plant dangle from the loft overhead through an interior upper-level wall of windows.
Goldberg purchased the condo for $325,000 in 1994. He then hired Arlene Dvorine, president and principal of Dvorine Associates in Lutherville, who had decorated his other home in Georgetown. And, while the Washington-area townhouse is more traditional, for this one, he wanted an Italian seaside villa feel. Much of the condo would be gutted and most of his furniture and appliances purchased new at a total renovation cost of just over $100,000.
Dvorine and her team went to work on the first and second levels of the home. (The basement is used mostly for storage.) Interior renovation included opening the kitchen area and giving it a complete remodel, gutting the second level for an enlarged bedroom and bathroom, building a high wooden railing for a larger loft area, laying terra cotta flooring, painting walls a light beige and applying stucco. This Italian touch contrasts dramatically with cherry wood moldings, and with an interior second-story glass wall that overlooks the living area below.
Much of the furniture purchased for the condo is Ralph Lauren. Carpets are wool with faded designs and frayed edges to carry out the shabby-chic, old-Italian-villa ambience.
The eight-room home actually appears much larger, in part due to the windows on two sides of the condo and the proliferation of light. The first level consists of an entrance hall with an adjacent kitchen. Rooms outside the two-level living area, including the kitchen, a guest room and bath off of the living room, feature knotty pine ceilings. The juxtaposition of various wood tones against light walls and faux marble painting add to an overall look of comfort and neutral styling that allows the plants and various wall hangings to be the stars of the decor.
Treasures in the home include a three-fold Chinese screen, with images and symbols that have been hand-carved in oak. "This screen is 600 years old, [and] I have the feeling that all the answers to life are in there," said Goldberg about the piece, which offers a bit of privacy at the windows of the side entrance.
Out on the large terrace patio, the dogs lie peacefully, dividing their time between the sunny uncovered portion filled with potted plants, window boxes of sea grass and a holly berry bush. Under the canopied portion of the patio, giant molded concrete urns sit near the doorway. Patio furniture rests in the shade, offering a view of a spectacular harbor, boats and piers, as well as the promenade and a nearby city park. Last season's wisteria clings to the posts of the canopy. Soon the bare vines will be in full bloom and, along with the other plants, will provide a colored curtain of foliage and flora.
Back inside, Goldberg looks around the condo, out to the water and up to his bedroom loft and sums it all up: "It's hard to wake up in a bad mood here!"
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Making the dream
Dream location: Canton Cove is a sleek architectural example of adaptive reuse in a city neighborhood rife with renewal. Once an abandoned warehouse serving as storage for the TinDeco Company, the complex with its facade of large windows and steel trim is now a waterfront beacon located in the heart of the area's residential and commercial activity. From the water, the building's structure showcases walls of windows behind which are light-filled condominiums in a building of 89 units. The waterfront location offers dining, shopping, attractions and water activities nearby. "All night the dogs look outside at the other dogs," Harvey Goldberg said. "The people I know here are the owners who have dogs."
Dream decisions: Goldberg notes that the best thing he did was to hire Arlene Dvorine, who, he said, listened to him and then gave him exactly what he wanted.
Dream touches: Goldberg's collection of art greatly enhances the look of his home. Pieces include paintings of the dogs, and interesting Baltimore landscapes, such as the old dilapidated building that stood for ages on the hook of Fells Point. A bronze sculpture called "The Story Teller" consists of a pair of hands, outstretched and inviting comment.