Chris and Jamie Swann's Baltimore townhouse off Key Highway features what many would consider a million-dollar view of the city's busy waterfront and beyond. That was reason enough for them to purchase the four-story brick home with rooftop deck in June 2011.
"Chris and I fell in love with the views from our house," Jamie Swann said. "We looked at many units, and although the interior initially wasn't exactly what we wanted, we couldn't pass up our view of the harbor from every level."
And so, the couple paid $774,000 for a home they expected would need updating.
"We knew cosmetically that we could transform the house into what we wanted and needed," said Jamie Swan, a 42-year old physical therapist at Union Memorial Hospital. "With the help of Amanda Austin Interiors, [we] created our vision and dream."
The Swanns estimate they spend about $200,000 to replace the flooring on the lower level, paint every wall, replace all of the carpeting, change out the kitchen countertops and tile, update the hardware on the walnut cabinets, replace all window treatments, and add accent wallpaper to certain parts of the home.
Having previously combined two households, the two decided they wanted furnishings that would be theirs together. Jamie Swann laid out a rough timeline for tasks before taking up residence in October 2011.
"I wanted everything to be done; renovation first, then decoration," she recalled.
"Amanda and I went through the house putting all our ideas together. I wanted casual, contemporary decor with a touch of elegance. It was [like] starting with a blank canvas, [and] we worked together as a team."
Every unit in the community is slightly different, and for the Swanns' part, they wanted to brighten up their home while focusing on the views beyond their back windows. The soft, steady neon glow of the iconic Domino Sugars sign dominates every vista.
This outstanding harbor "amenity" was not lost on Amanda Austin and her team as they began work. Against walls painted light taupe, each window receives a different fabric treatment, depending on the room. For example, in the second level living area (the street level is made up of a two-car garage, powder room and Chris Swann's office with a walkout to the backyard) these windows are dressed in different textures of linen and bamboo.
Clean lines, neutral colors and bright accents are also found throughout the home's interior. The foyer, for example, features a console table over which sits a large oblong mirror framed in a seashells. The kitchen boasts eggshell-tinted tile backsplashes, with a 46-inch flat-screen TV built into a counter facing the family room. Daylight bounces from the contemporary sofa, upholstered in beige microfiber with bright red accent pillows.
Curtains, floor-length and flowing, hang from the playroom windows of the couple's 3-year old daughter, Hailey, while the guest bedroom boasts white furniture contrasting with walls painted navy.
"Our house now has everything we love, from our new furniture to the artwork on the walls," Jamie Swann said. "We were fortunate to have someone help us pull everything together and complete our project. That's usually the hard part."
"Initially, everything was so dark," added Chris Swann, a 39-year CPA in private practice. "Now it has been brightened up."
Outside their home, the neighborhood is everything they could ask for.
"The community amenities are amazing," Jamie Swann pointed out. "Where can you find a house that has ample parking, security, community pool and fitness center, [and all] within walking distance to many parks and city attractions in downtown Baltimore?"
Dream Realized: "We enjoy the convenience of living in the city," Jamie Swann said. "We are close to all the major highways for our jobs; we can walk to the parks and city attractions. There are many great city programs geared to young children and families. [There is] cultural diversity. [And] we don't have to mow any grass."
Dream Area: "My husband's favorite room is the clubroom," said Jamie Swann. "He was able to create his own bar area. This was the biggest construction project done to the house. Like any man's dream, he has his bar and big-screen TV, plus he can display his sports memorabilia. My favorite room is the master suite. The colors are so warm and relaxing, and I love waking up with the view of the harbor and the Domino Sugar sign! Plus we love all of our outdoor spaces for relaxing and entertaining, [with] great views of the fireworks."
Dream Details: Jamie Swann is proud to show off the many collectibles and pieces of artwork that have made their house a home. "Our club/family room has a Baltimore theme, with original works done by Robert McClintock," she said. The couple's passion for the Ravens is evident in the amount of memorabilia on the walls. There are also as a few pieces of art from two of their favorite cities to visit — New Orleans and Key West, Fla. Jamie Swann refers to the clubroom's decor as an "Everything we love theme," noting, "We enjoy displaying family photographs and pictures of our daughter."