Just east of Highlandtown in Baltimore's Greektown neighborhood, the exteriors of the two-story brick rowhouses all look pretty much alike. It's the creative details — a painted front door, window trim or stained glass transoms — with which the owners state their individuality.
Adrianne Kotula stands at her open front door on one of these blocks. Her purple hair, bold, chevron print dress and lime green shoes that match the paint on her front door make a statement as well. The 33-year-old interior designer at WPS Paint & Decorating Center in Harford County is confident about her design style.
"I call it 'contemporary glam,'" she says of the decor within her 18-foot-by-45-foot interior space.
Kotula purchased her house in December 2012 for $58,000. With a loan totaling $95,000, she was able to rehab the interior to her taste.
"I really enjoyed taking the old style of a rowhome that is over 85 years old and transforming it in a space that is functional and relevant in 2014," she says.
The initial focus of her transformation is at the rear of the first level. A contemporary kitchen is painted two shades of gray , colors she refers to as her "kind of neutral." Sleek, stainless appliances provide a dramatic contrast to oak cabinets painted deep espresso and a backsplash made of varying lengths of tiles in gray, beige and dark brown.
Over the quartz-topped kitchen island, Kotula has hung a chrome ceiling lamp with a white cylindrical shade, from which crystal prisms dangle. This touch of glitz is seen in lamps throughout the house, as is the zebra-printwallpaper found in the adjacent powder room.
The south wall of the kitchen is covered with a colorful mural, painted by her friend Johnny Stafford. The work features a collage of Baltimore landmarks in front of a black cityscape: the colorfully painted rowhouses of Federal Hill, the neon Domino Sugars sign, a looming M&T Bank Stadium, Patterson Park and its pagoda, the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, and the Greektown sign (a nod to what was also Kotula's childhood home).
Her 3-year-old terrier, Roark, follows her from the kitchen — nails clacking on the bamboo wood flooring — to the center of the first level, where a dining area has been created. Here, there is an Art Deco-designed counter-height table.
"The dark espresso wood finish and leather seat cushions keep with my contemporary glam design," Kotula says. "Because the space is small, the square design of the table [is] perfect for intimate dinner parties."
At the front of the house, the living room continues the sleek, glamorous theme with a large white leather sofa against a deep chocolate wall. Above the sofa, wooden molding painted darker chocolate frames a purple piece of satin wallpaper with a raised fern leaf print. Two occasional chairs, each painted a high-gloss white, are upholstered in heavy fabric with bright medallions on a brown background. (Medallions are a recurring motif in the house.)
A chrome and frosted glass lamp hangs from the ceiling, providing light along with two lamps with Roman statue bases. Originally bronze, and belonging to her grandmother, the bases are painted the same lime green shade as the front door.
"Some of my favorite design aspects are found in this room," Kotula says. "I love my grandmother's 'people' lamps. They are something I can look at every day [for] a happy memory of her."
Keeping with her contemporary design concept, the open staircase to the second level features steel railings and banister, and wood steps stained a deep brown.
Two bedrooms and one bathroom are found on this level, each designed in the same style as the rooms on the first floor. A guest room does double duty as a home for Kotula's 100-plus pairs of shoes, displayed on a shelving unit that just about takes up an entire wall. The shoes — for the most part very colorful and high-heeled — are like a piece of 3-D artwork.
The master bedroom is a vision in light plum colors, such as the paint on the tray ceiling, the wispy feathers on the wallpaper and the medallion fabric on the window seat. A pair of mirror-fronted cabinets reaching almost to the 10-foot-high ceiling flank a black bureau.
Kotula chose crocodile-textured wallpaper in gray for between the master and guest rooms. Large black-and-white photographs of glossy, full lips covered in jewels are hung horizontally — her favorite pieces of artwork.
"As a designer, I had a vision from the very beginning of the project and everything came out exactly as I had planned," Kotula says.
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