Wendy Galinn in her renovated Perry Hall condo.
Wendy Galinn in her renovated Perry Hall condo. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun)

From the halls of a condominium complex, every residence looks just about the same. The surprise is often in the sight that greets a visitor when the front door is answered. In the case of Wendy Galinn's condo, the wow factor is immediately apparent.

"You don't expect this when you walk in, do you?" says Galinn, a petite, 53-year-old physical education teacher.

Few people do, and all are more than amazed at the bright, spacious interior of her residence.

"There are 12 units per building and only four are condos with lofts," she says, explaining the layout of the Perry Hall condo she purchased new in August 2002 for $155,000. "I came every day when it was in construction just to see the project."

Soaring cathedral ceilings, an extended dining room with French doors to the balcony and a grand oak staircase to the 300-square-foot loft, all belie the condo's total living space of 1,700 square feet. An open, angular layout reveals a great room, a large kitchen with a granite countertop bar, and a combination sun room-dining room. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one on each end of the unit, are removed from the main living area for privacy.

Galinn worked with designer Laura Kimball of LCK Interiors to give the apartment its appearance of depth and personality.

"My house was all in yellow before Laura came," says Galinn, referring to the condo's painted walls. "I can take 10 weeks just figuring out color."

So she called upon Kimball, and the two women worked together on upgrades and design elements. Flooring of variegated eucalyptus wood throughout the apartment added polish and panache to a minimalist decor. Dark grain granite countertops in the kitchen complemented mahogany cabinets, while a backsplash of marble with subway tiles finished off a sleek food preparation area studded with stainless appliances.

Accent walls became the foundation of the home's appeal. Along with soft yellow, a pumpkin shade of paint allows certain walls to pop while others recede. Shades of rust, beige and yellow provide a neutral, yet organic style to furnishings that Galinn calls "contemporary with a minimalist effect that makes [the condo] easy to dust."

Having sold most of her furniture from a former townhouse in White Marsh, Galinn began anew, shopping in stores specializing in contemporary pieces. Accessories were purchased from a variety of places that included Crate & Barrel, Michaels, and the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Va.

The great room features a tuxedo sofa in light beige and two deco swivel chairs upholstered in a rust-colored duck fabric. Silk draperies in a shade of rust hang from a silk-covered cornice above three floor-to-ceiling windows with plantation shutters.

"The room is so large that Laura suggested an accent wall," Galinn explains. The project involved creating a bump-out or extension along one wall of travertine tile with glass accents wedged into a 4-inch thick frame of maple wood. Frame and tiles climb on an angle to the cathedral ceiling —16 feet at its peak. The sheer size of the bump-out, with large wall sconces on either side, turns the heads of all who walk through the front door.

Galinn has converted the second bedroom into an office, and it is here that the design style highlights her whimsical side. In addition to a barrister's bookcase filled with "Precious Moments" collectibles and a contemporary light-wood desk, she has used the room as a showcase for pieces purchased at festival and craft fairs. These include resin vegetables with human faces looking down from the wall and a Romero Britto silkscreen in three panels called "Fluffy Friends."

Galinn's bedroom, on the other end of the apartment, contains the only furniture she kept after the move — a pecan wood bedroom suite. Because she is at the end of her building, the bedroom features three large windows covered with plantation shutters.

"The sun comes up outside my windows and I have a great view of the deer, foxes and raccoons," she said.

From the loft's oak railings, the entire condo, except for bedrooms, can be viewed. Modern light wood furniture shares space with Galinn's bike, treadmill and elliptical machine. A comfortable sofa sits against a wall opposite a TV.

"I come up here every day when I do my workout," she said looking out over her great room and adding, "I love the architecture and the livability here, [and] I use every room."

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Making the dream

Dream design: Wendy Galinn's double-decker condo appears like an individual Cape Cod-style home, in part because there is so much angular interest within. The kitchen is laid at an angle to the great room, which sits adjacent to a dining room defined by a half-wall with a Doric column. Prominent colors throughout the minimalist design are yellow, rust and cream.

Dream interior: Galinn enjoys collecting art and sculpture, which not only gives her pleasure, but adds finishing touches to every room. Tables, niches, even a metal stand display bronze and wood and blown-glass sculpture, while a collection of paintings and watercolors includes the works of a favorite artist, Alvena McCormick.