Jim Klausmeyer adores things old, vintage and collectible, and he's been gathering them for a decade.
Now he lives surrounded by those objects.
His Riverside home, which Klausmeyer bought last year when he tired of commuting from White Marsh for work, itself could be considered vintage. It dates back more than a century, according to state records. Klausmeyer chose the South Baltimore neighborhood of Riverside so he could be close to work — he commutes by skateboard in under five minutes. Being near Riverside Park and the heart of the city were additional pluses.
The 27-year-old described the end-unit house as shaped like a "slice of pie" — 12 feet wide in the front and 16 feet wide at the back.
"The uniqueness of it, that was one of the things about it that I liked," Klausmeyer said. The white tin kitchen ceiling was another.
He also saw a big positive in the home's look: "Because it's dated, I could actually afford it," he said.
So $195,000 later, Klausmeyer set about filling his new digs with repurposed goods and vintage items to create a laid-back look that is at home in, well, an old home.
A partner and production manager at Sandtown Millworks, which builds furniture from salvaged wood, Klausmeyer made most of the furniture and some accessories for his home from old wood that shows its age in dings, imperfections and discoloration. Objects from bygone times have a "unique look," he said.
On the outside, Klausmeyer wanted to add a splash of color to the black front door. There's no missing his house now: He painted the door in the design of the Maryland state flag.
"I love the Maryland flag color scheme. It's regal-looking," he said.
Inside, his woodworking skills are on display everywhere. Klausmeyer said he likes giving old wood new life — and doing the same for other old objects. The house is dotted with bits of local history, such as a worn brick in the dining room with the manufacturer's identifier, "Baltimore block," still visible. In the green bathroom upstairs is a piece of a fireplace panel — a cast-iron rectangle with a daisy design — that Klausmeyer got from a deconstructed old building at Fort Howard.
"I love old things and antiques. I see little odds and ends, I collect them," he said.
He can walk into the dining room at the front of his 1,152-square-foot house and hang his hat on a coat rack he made from a piece of reclaimed barn sheathing. On another wall hangs art he made from strips of salvaged lath, the various shades, lengths and widths of the wood catching the eye.
Klausmeyer eliminated a couple layers of brick from the fireplace opening so he could slip in an efficient wood-burning stove. He created a mantel from 4-inch-thick wood pulled from a New York building and topped it with a display of old cast-iron shoe molds.
The table was also hand-made, using old floor joists from a house in Federal Hill. It has an especially unusual look because Klausmeyer filled the craters caused by damage with luminescent epoxy.
"It glows in the dark. I thought it would be fun," he said.
He left the walls in the seller's colors, which include pale tones on the main floor. The subdued shades, along with skinny white window blinds, keep the focus on the rest of the house.
Artwork — such as mosaics made of castoff glass by Baltimore artist Loring Cornish -— adds pops of color that offset the wood floors and exposed brick wall on one side of the house. The pieces, as well as mirrors, are framed in repurposed moldings, siding and other wood remnants.
In the living room, a display on the brick wall pays homage to old hand tools — planes, saws and wrenches. Above, Klausmeyer's five colorful skateboards hang on a rack he made from parts of an old skateboard, serving both practical and artistic purposes. Parts of old painted-tin ceilings that he's been saving became a wall-mounted collage.
An unobtrusive charcoal tweed love seat and sofa provide comfortable seating. Klausmeyer's old drum gets a second act as an end table, as does his grandmother's worn brown suitcase. He built the TV console and living room table to fit the spaces.
The kitchen holds Klausmeyer's collection of vintage tins and several dozen old bottles, many of which he found during kayak trips. They're perched on the white cabinets, and he added a strip of LED lights to illuminate them. A second light strip beneath the cabinets gives the kitchen a nighttime glow, he said.
For fun, he added chalkboard sides to a stainless-steel refrigerator he bought. "My friends like to come over and doodle on it," he said.
Upstairs, in his bedroom, Klausmeyer knew he needed storage. So he built a bed with drawers in the platform and turned old floor joists into a rich brown headboard that complements the taupe walls. A gray comforter tops the bed. Overhead, a skylight "really brightens things up," he said.
Closets and storage take up another room, and a guest room is empty for now, as he looks ahead to doing more work on the house.
Half a canoe mounted on a wall and the remains of an old ladder reborn as a bathroom towel rack are among the other salvaged items upstairs.
"I've been saving all this stuff for so long. And now I have a place for it."
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