Jenny Wohl tells the story of sitting on her condo balcony in Baltimore's Village of Cross Keys not long after she purchased it. She was drinking her coffee that warm June morning, mulling over her art collection, when the reality of what she had done hit her.
"I realized I felt home," she says. "I realized my home was making me. … This is my art, this is my space, this is me, everywhere."
Wohl, a 33-year-old administrator in the biology department at the Johns Hopkins University and a part-time associate director in the Turner Design Firm, has used her love of art and her eclectic, modern design style to create her personal sanctuary.
Her oasis is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for which she paid $142,000 in May. And while the total square footage comes in at just 1,000 , Wohl says the layout and the pastel colors of the walls allow for a much larger appearance. She was also pleased that the previous owners totally renovated the kitchen and bathroom and installed bamboo flooring throughout the unit.
Beyond the front door, a hallway opens to the kitchen; a few steps farther in, the hall turns onto a large living and dining room, where a second opening to the kitchen completes the rectangular layout. (The bathroom and bedroom are off the hall on the opposite wing.)
For her living room, Wohl chose sleek, modular pieces in dark colors to contrast with the walls, painted a warm shade of French vanilla. These include a flat leather chaise converted into a sofa that she bought at a penthouse sale. Perpendicular to that is a love seat in deep gray felt. A curved, white leather chaise longue and a chrome floor lamp with a black, figure-eight shade make a bold statement in the corner.
She elaborates on several pieces of her art collection as she walks through every room in her condo.
Firm in her conviction that "in so many ways, art chooses you," her pieces are selected with care from Baltimore artists; she knows many of them personally.
Hanging over her sofa, for example, is a very large piece of fractured glass, all in black. Looking like an Expressionist mosaic, it was made for Wohl by her friend and Fells Point artist Loring Cornish.
"I asked if he had ever done a black-on-black piece, and he said, 'Not yet,'" Wohl says. "The original piece was intended to be a fraction of the size [here] but he created [this] masterpiece … and I wouldn't have it any other way."
The title of the piece is "Complete: Nothing Else Added," which Wohl calls "absolutely fitting." Another favorite artist is Rick Santiago, also a friend, of the Pearl Gallery in Hampden. His clever creation of a clock on a skateboard hangs in her kitchen.
In a savvy stroke of decorating spirit, Wohl created a small office by sectioning off a portion of her living room with a black-framed, light fabric screen. Behind the screen is a modern black-and-white laminate desk with chrome legs. Two leather chairs sit in front of it with a white barrel executive chair and bookcases behind.
The dining room is simply but stylishly decorated. A square glass table is surrounded by four leather and chrome chairs. Over a combination black buffet and shelves lined with glassware hangs an almost surreal image of Dubai at sunset by another friend, photographer Nicole Fallek. A Kelly Walker canvas titled "Three Wise Men" hangs on a perpendicular wall next to the sliding-glass doors to the balcony.
In Wohl's kitchen, the walls are painted the palest of blue shades, offering a subtle contrast to the white cabinets, gray medallion-shaped backsplash tile, light gray granite countertops and ceramic floor tiles.
Another pale shade, this time in green, covers the walls of the bedroom, designed in boudoir fashion. A mirrored chest of drawers and side tables are a feminine touch to a room filled with paintings of women. Plush comforters in soft green, blue and gold adorn her gracefully curved, wrought-iron bed — a favorite resting place for her 9-year-old Chihuahua, Tia Maria, who Wohl says "rules the roost."
Class, style and a keen eye for art really rule her roost. And she credits Jeanine Turner of Turner Design Firm for helping her develop her abilities.
"This is my dream home because it is the space, after 33 years [where] I am me," Wohl says. "Completely, absolutely, unapologetically me."