When Rebecca Bell Echols first walked into the Clipper Mill home of her future husband, Eric Echols, on their fifth date, she says she thought to herself, "Man, this place has so much potential."

She noticed the amount of space — the 2,000-square-foot, three-level townhouse was enormous compared with the 700-square-foot condo she had recently bought. She spotted a first-floor room devoid of any furniture, an empty canvas for what could be an eye-catching entrance. But mostly she saw a house that, while nicely finished, held a fair amount of mass-produced furniture.


"It was a tremendous amount of IKEA," says Eric Echols, who bought the home in 2009 for $289,900.

"I called his taste IKEA-chic," Bell Echols adds.

As their relationship continued, Bell Echols eventually moved in and, checking in with Echols on core design choices, started creating a shared space they could both call home. (The couple were engaged in April 2012 and married a year later.)

Bell Echols calls their style "sophisticated classic meets modern. And I think that's more Eric's style, the modern. I like to be more on the Hollywood glam [side], but I try to tone it down a little bit."

The design book "Black and White (and a Bit in Between)" by Celerie Kemble, an early gift to Bell Echols from her husband, provided the inspiration for the calm, neutral palette of grays, whites and blacks in the home.

The tranquil template matches the classical music that fills the townhouse, often emanating from the grand piano on the bottom floor that Bell Echols uses to give voice and piano lessons.

Both are employed in the music industry: Bell Echols is a voice department coordinator at Carroll Community College and music director at Ark and Dove Presbyterian Church in Odenton, while Echols is an audio-visual designer for a national firm that supplies design and installation services for commercial and performance spaces.

So it makes sense that the couple's first foray in combining styles came in the form of creating a first-floor music room, where the grand piano can be found. They tackled its completion together, installing the dark-brown bamboo floors and painting the walls a light gray.

Near the piano, which Bell Echols received as a 16th-birthday present, sits the wood music stand she's used since high school . She repurposed two thrift store finds, a hutch and a TV stand, painting them antique white and adding modern-inspired hardware to hold her sheet music collection. Her grandfather's wood-grain clarinet* and a decorative fiddle are displayed on the cabinet.

The bamboo flooring extends up the stairs and into the oblong living room. A combined kitchen and dining room, opening onto a porch, finishes out the second floor.

The living room centers around a fireplace mantel that Bell Echols salvaged from a renovation at another home. In this room and elsewhere, she has contrasted geometric patterns with Baroque-inspired patterns and finishes, evoking a sense of movement throughout the home.

"There's something I really like about the symmetry," she says of the geometric patterns found in the rugs, pillows and lamps that fill her home. "I'm really drawn to the structure of it."

Bell Echols has balanced that out with softer touches, highlighting her glam preferences through curves, metallic finishes and bits of color in linens and flowers.

"I love the feminine lines," she says, pointing to a simple silver-plated vase with a three-dimensional diamond pattern on the mantel. The 1920s-inspired round mirror that sits behind it is bordered by modern-inspired lines, something repeated in the woodwork detail on the mantel.


The space is adult but child-friendly, to accommodate the couple's 18-month-old son, Anderson. A child-size baby piano sits in front of the mantel; a window seat in the play area doubles as toy and book storage.

After adopting Anderson and bringing him home two years into their marriage, the couple spent a whirlwind month decorating the third-floor nursery. Yellow accessories — a lamp, artwork and bedding — brighten up the space. The central focus of the room is Anderson's initials, AE, suspended from a "Star Wars" light saber above his crib.

If there's one area where the couple have displayed shared tastes, it's in the home's lighting.

Hanging above the dining room table — where Bell Echols has replaced one set of chairs with a bench to provide flexible seating and make the room look larger — is a four-tiered rectangular waterfall chandelier they spotted at a home-decor shop, their first purchase together.

The entranceway lighting is an iron and glass chandelier custom made by artist Anthony Corradetti, whose studio is just a block away. Bell Echols commissioned the piece for her husband as a wedding present.

In the master bath, she repurposed a thrift-store chandelier by painting it antique white and adorning it with crystals. And the couple's bedroom is all about natural light, which streams in from the streetfront windows onto a wall hand-painted in silver.

The townhouse, located just outside Hampden, is convenient to the perks of city life while still providing the space for a growing family.

"I think it's our perfect home for now. I love coming home, and we've made it our own space and something that we really love," Bell Echols says.

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Send an email to homes@baltsun.com.

*Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the type of wood-grain instrument displayed in the music room. It is a clarinet. The Sun regrets the error.