Paul and Patrice Hill incorporated family heirlooms, their personal taste and suggestions from their design and construction teams to create their dream home in Federal Hill.
From the front, the row home blends into the thousands of narrow connected homes that have become a hallmark of Charm City. But from the back — and once inside — it’s clear that their home is something special.
The biggest feature of the home is a 400-pound frosted glass floor in the master bedroom’s walk-in closet ― right above the kitchen and dining room.
The floor is a rarity in residential homes and has typically been reserved for commercial spaces, according to Paul, who says it is “the conversation piece of the house.”
Upon entering the home it becomes apparent that it is flooded with an immense amount of natural light.
That means the home’s white-hues walls — the upstairs features super white and the kitchen features white oak — are adorned with a mix of photographs Paul’s taken and art they have either purchased or was passed down to them by family members.
“These are things that we’ve always loved,” she says.
“The French stuff I associate with my parents’ home and apartment in Paris,” explains Paul, logistics and port operations manager for McLaren Automotive Inc. “I’m not fond of art that doesn’t mean something.”
The dining room wall, for example, is anchored by a humongous framed cigarette rolling advertisement, which was from his parents. The photos in the main bathroom and in the hallway near the home’s front entrance are ones that he’s taken.
She moved into the house in 1998; he joined her there in 2003. The two embarked on a nine-month renovation in 2017 that added a new master bedroom; master bathroom featuring a natural limestone shower encased in glass; a dining room that leads out to a back patio; and a white rubber roof. In addition to the 19 feet of space, there was a remodeling of the kitchen and full bathroom.
“We could build more space but we’re glad we didn’t,” he says. “We didn’t need a third floor or one more of this or that.”
The trick to the home’s renovation was to make the most use of the space, he says.
That means hidden air ducts, special hidden LED lighting in the kitchen and built-in shelving and drawers from the bedroom to the kitchen.
Ultimately, the changes to the home have given the couple more space to entertain, which was something they weren’t able to do.
“We lived in here while they did this,” he says. “We cooked on hot plates.”
The traditional aspect of the home comes in the form of the exposed brick walls that are sprinkled throughout.
The original hardwood pine on the second floor is another reminder of the home’s origins.
“I don’t think there is anything we would have changed,” he says.
The couple was provided with three concepts for the renovation by Ziger|Snead Architects.
“The final version was perfect for us,” she says. “This is something that we would have never thought of on our own.”
George Brown, president of the Baltimore-based Greenleaf Construction, helped the couple through the entire process.
“He had a network of people,” Paul says. “We were really happy to have met him.”
He adds: “It was an amazing learning experience. All the things you learn about. The education that we got … between the city permits, engineers, framers, tiles, plumbing, fixtures and stone. You never have a reason to know this in everyday life. We never were in Lowe’s before.”
The couple loves living in Federal Hill for a myriad of reasons.
“We love the location,” he immediately says.
“We love going to Federal Hill Park,” she says. “We love the diversity of restaurants and parks. The area seems to have matured a bit.”
He adds: “We love living here. It suits our lifestyle very much. We don’t need rooms and rooms."
“We’re not commuters,” she explains. “I can walk to the office or be to the port in five minutes.”
Parking repeatedly comes up when talking to the Hills.
He says he wanted to have enough room in his backyard to be able to park two cars, which he has with the 115-foot-deep lot. The remaining space houses an outdoor table and chairs where the couple occasionally eats alfresco.
“The key to survival is two-car parking,” she says with a laugh.