The antique display case in the living room of Tim Nelson and Kathy Edin's Butchers Hill rowhouse is emblematic of their love for their new hometown.

"Although new to Baltimore, we are proud locals," said Edin, who bought the display case for Nelson's 50th birthday. "[I] charged [Nelson] to fill it with 'Baltimoreana,' which we have started to collect. As of now, we have some photo books, old postcards, a guide to 'Bawlmer' from the 1970s and a few other curios."

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And for almost a year now, they have owned their sweetest piece of "Baltimoreana" yet — a spacious three-story townhouse just a few blocks from Patterson Park.

The couple fell in love at first sight with the recently renovated property when the two visited in the summer of 2013. Both were Harvard professors and Bostonians when offers came their way to teach at the Johns Hopkins University. Edin, 52, is now a professor of sociology and public health at Hopkins, while Nelson, 50, is a senior lecturer in sociology and a senior scientist.

"We were still at Harvard at the time, not even on the JHU payroll, but we wanted a historic house in walking distance to the Inner Harbor," Edin said.

They purchased the house for $657,000 and moved in on Aug. 15. The previous owners' renovation was so impeccably done that the couple's only task was to decorate.

Seen from the north-facing front entrance of the 18-by-60-foot home, through the kitchen's sliding doors, is the piece de resistance — the outdoor deck above the garage. The couple is proud to show it off, with Nelson proclaiming it his favorite part of the house.

Glass sculptures of various shapes and colors are affixed to a corner railing of the 18-by-25-foot wooden deck. Vegetation in every shade of green grows from large floor pots lining the periphery. Four red Adirondack chairs with red-and-white striped cushions are arranged around a distressed-wood coffee table and shaded by a light blue umbrella. It all creates a scene the couple describes as "an urban oasis."

"The combination of being outside with the sun and flowers, the view of the harbor, comfortable chairs and ready access to the grill make it a spot that I could almost live in," Nelson said. "There is even a propane heater there so we can use it for extended periods into the fall and early spring."

Back inside, the relatively open floor plan and 11-foot ceilings make the house appear much larger than its 2,700 square feet.

"We wanted a house where we could have people over, and this is a kitchen you'd love to cook in," Edin said as she relaxed at a granite-topped center island. Stainless-steel appliances and dark wooden cabinets with frosted glass inserts offer a contemporary contrast to the exposed brick on the west-facing wall. A favorite watercolor seascape of South African sailboats hangs here, which Edin says "has so much movement, you can almost feel the breeze off the water."

Framed artwork plays an integral part of the home's traditional decor, with most pieces done by Edin's mother, Rose Edin, a professional watercolorist whose inspiration comes from traveling.

"My favorite set of pieces is the group of four watercolors she did, which hangs in the living room next to the fireplace," Nelson said. "The colors and composition of each are compelling, and because each scene is from a different country — Brazil, India, Thailand and China — they add an air of the exotic to the room."

A graceful cantilevered staircase leads to the home's upper levels. A guest bedroom, bathroom and laundry room are found on the second floor. There is also a room that Edin calls her "Boston room." On the light blue walls hang prints of the harbor in Portsmouth, N.H. Other furnishings include a wooden desk top on iron legs from Restoration Hardware, her grandfather's railroad lamp and a Swedish Bible representing her Scandinavian heritage.

The third level features a master suite at the front of the house, with a bedroom painted a cool gray and furnished with a canopied bed under a sloped ceiling.

Edin's favorite spot in the house can be found at the back of the third floor — a room with sliding doors to a second outdoor deck.

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"This room has two things I love: books and a wood-burning fireplace," she said. "Plus, it has an amazing view of the Inner Harbor, [and] the skylights give this room an unusual amount of light for a rowhouse."

The family room also has a floor-to-ceiling wet bar, leather occasional chairs, a circa-1920 secretary desk, a traditional sofa covered in white duck cloth, a carpet from India and Rose Edin's award-winning painting titled "Sunflowers" hanging over the fireplace. In the corner of the room is an elevator that stops at every floor — from the third level to a basement office that the couple plans on turning into a formal dining room because it opens in the back to an outdoor patio.

"I love the combination of the historic bones of the house with all the careful and high-end updating that the previous owners … accomplished during their five years here," Nelson said. "The new kitchen, skylights, elevator [and] steam shower make for elegant 21st-century living in a classic 19th-century setting."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Send an email to homes@baltsun.com.

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