Alex Dyadyura is pictured in the living room of his dream home in Fells Point.
Alex Dyadyura is pictured in the living room of his dream home in Fells Point. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

Most people, unless headed to a specific address, will simply drive past the two-story row houses that line the curb along Fleet Street in East Baltimore. Few are wider than 15 feet; their only mark of individuality is usually found in the variety of front doors. Many of these houses, dating to 1910, are examples of exterior brick restoration, while others still bask in the Formstone glory of 1940's exterior home improvement.

Alex Dyadyura, a computer programmer with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, purchased one of these houses less than a year ago. Secure in his position after almost three years of service, the time was ripe for moving from his rented house in Patterson Park.

"I got used to this neighborhood and started looking around," said the Ukrainian-born Dyadyura in a soft voice. "And this one came along."

He purchased the foreclosure property for $149,000 and moved into a house already beautifully renovated by the previous owners. It still needed about $10,000 in updates, so Dyadyura and his 19-year-old daughter, Krystyana, who moved from Canada to live with him, painted every interior room, tiled the kitchen, replaced the roof and built a concrete parking pad in the postage stamp-sized backyard.

From the street, the house looks like those flanking it – still dressed in a coat of Formstone, with door and windows trimmed in white. Beyond the front door, the interior measures 13.6-feet wide by 46-feet deep. A living room in the front of the house faces south, while the kitchen, at the rear, faces north. A moderately sized hall separates the two with a staircase to the second level on one side and a full bathroom on the other.

Blatantly contemporary in décor, an overwhelming coziness is achieved through a palate of warm wall colors that surround gleaming oak flooring. In the kitchen, walls are painted a soft shade of pumpkin and framed in a stencil of painted green confetti-like pieces, executed by Dyadyura's daughter, a graphic arts student. Cabinets of cherry wood hang above granite countertops and stainless appliances.

Across the room from the prep area, upholstered high-backed chairs in a geometric design cozy up to a round glass-topped table. A high-topped, dark-stained parsons table, with two bar stools tucked under it, rests in front of the wide kitchen window hung with taffeta like curtains over cream colored shears. Light-colored ceramic floor tile has been laid on a diagonal for interest.

"The living room is my favorite," Dyadyura said, noting that the décor was done by his daughter and Baltimore designer Steve Appel as a surprise.

Painted a warm shade of French vanilla, a contemporary tuxedo-style sofa of olive-colored velour sits against a wall under a stunning, frameless self portrait of his daughter. A large round mirror is hung on the opposite wall, providing a reflection of the neat, minimalistic décor. In one corner, adjacent to a 46-inch wide-screen TV, a barreled armchair is placed at an angle to a three shelved parson's table painted white.

"I actually never moved anything after they put [the room] together," he said, adding, "I'm not artistic, I'm functional."

Functionality dictates on the second level where two bedrooms, one in the front, the other in the back, are separated by a hall and center room that his daughter uses as her studio. "This was intended to be my bathroom," says Dyadyura fondly.

The master bedroom contains a black lacquered wood bedroom suite and computer desk. Furnishings, such as a neutral colored brocade bed quilt and flowing shear curtains on the windows, soften the austere look.

Krystyna's bedroom suite at the back end of the second level is a work in progress. Only her bathroom, with walls painted a candy apple green, suggests an artistic decor in the works.

Walking down the stairs to the first level, Dyadyura notes that he carpeted the steps and intends to stain the oak railing. When asked if he plans to remain in his contemporary, compact home, he notes, "I love the location. Here you can walk anywhere, to shopping, restaurants and to [Patterson] park."

But does he plan to stay indefinitely?

"I have a 30-year mortgage," he quipped.

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Making the dream

Best tip: While it is unfortunate for the people whose homes have been foreclosed upon, these properties, owned by the banks, are usually sold below market value. Patience, on the part of the buyer, is often rewarded with a renovated property in move-in condition. "I looked for a while, until I found this one," Alex Dyadyura noted.

Dream design: A long and narrow, center of a group townhouse is made bright and spacious with a minimal amount of furniture, and eye-catching accessories. Original artwork and other noteworthy pieces hang on walls, and are placed upon furniture. Light walls and bare flooring open up the interior, as well, while accents rugs offer warmth.

Dream interior: With the majority of furnishings purchased new, Alex Dyadyura and his daughter have nonetheless added personal touches, including a self-portrait created by Krystyna Dyadyura that hangs over the living room sofa. A center bedroom on the second level serves as her studio.