Joe Graziose and his family have recently moved into their fourth home at the same location — the Ritz-Carlton Residences along Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
"We've tested locations on all fronts of the building," he said. "Our last unit overlooked Federal Hill."
It is not that the Grazioses are fickle or hard to please. On the contrary.
As senior vice president of RXR Realty, developers of the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Baltimore, as well as one of its investors, Graziose has always opened his and wife Jackie's home to prospective buyers looking for a unit in the upscale complex. The couple "lost" their last three homes to buyers who wanted the particular upgrades Graziose chose for each of those units.
"We are here to stay," Joe Graziose insisted in reference to their third-floor, 3,100-square-foot home, adding, "We do show the residence on occasion."
But no sale here — this is the family dwelling, and the Grazioses are very much into hearth and home.
Joe Graziose works, and his 38-year-old wife takes care of their 3-year-old daughter, Isabella Sophia, who will soon be entering a local Montessori school.
There were three things Joe Graziose desired for his home and lifestyle in Baltimore, where he relocated his family to avoid a long-distance commute to New York.
"I wanted to be able to entertain; to make [the home] livable for Isabella; and to deal locally," he said.
Mindful of these convictions, he and his wife bought all their furniture from Shofer's in Federal Hill. Their porch suite came from Watson's Fireplace & Patio in Lutherville and every light fixture from Dorman Lighting & Design in Timonium. Local artist Kelly Walker worked her magic on the bathroom walls and those of the spacious entrance hall off the elevator, applying silver and gold leaf to these areas. In Isabella's brightly painted pink bedroom and adjoining playroom, Walker also created blue skies with fluffy clouds on the ceiling.
Where entertaining is concerned, the couple open their home to friends, family, business associates and members of the many nonprofit organizations they are involved with, including the Baltimore Symphony Associates, which commandeered two of the Ritz-Carlton residences for its 35th annual Decorators' Show House.
Finally, there is the adaptability factor, on which the Grazioses focused to raise a child in an urban environment.
"Our child is the most important person in this house," Joe Graziose said.
To suit her needs as well as theirs, Joe and Jackie Graziose have turned the condo's third bedroom into a playroom for their daughter. The outdoor patio flooring is covered with colorful chalk drawings, and the impeccably decorated great room includes a child's wooden table and chairs.
The home's interior decor is neutral, with artistic use of textiles and natural elements. The great room boasts a white microfiber sofa and chair suite of traditional styling. Built-in wooden shelving and cupboards, painted white to match the molding, flank either side of a white marble, gas fireplace. The walls are painted a pale gray in contrast to the Asian teakwood flooring throughout the home. An entire wall of the great room is mirrored and composed of a buffet and bar with glass shelving to the ceiling. This mirror has been placed opposite the front window overlooking the harbor so that, according to Joe Graziose, "water is brought into the house."
The dining room is elegant and comfortable, with carved paneling painted white below the chair rail and Venetian plaster with gold and silver leaf above it. The Mediterranean-style, rustic faux candelier hanging above the rich oak dining table provides an Old World welcoming warmth.
"I came into the Ritz and took down the velvet ropes, so to speak," Joe Graziose said. "This is not your parents' Ritz-Carlton. It's a place for empty-nesters, singles and families. Last month, two babies were born [to residents] here."
The couple's love of texture is evident throughout the home. where treasured objets d'art are hung on the walls in art gallery fashion — each one distinctly large and circular. An intricately carved teak disc, 5 feet in diameter, is a welcoming feature in the front hallway.
"It is not meant to be stared at but, rather, passed by," Joe Graziose pointed out.
Another eyecatcher is a 3-foot-diameter polished metal disc from Woodstock with raised impressions of people in a circle holding hands. This piece has traveled everywhere with Joe Graziose and is one he plans never to part with.
The couple's favorite area in the home is the combination kitchen and family room. Simply decorated, it is the hub of family relaxing.
"We have our coffee here every evening," said Jackie Graziose, indicating a large pub-style sofa covered in white duck cloth.
"This area is for our good morning, our good evening and our good night," Joe Graziose said.
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Making the dream
Dream element: The Graziose's third-floor condominium at the Ritz-Carlton Residences overlooks Baltimore's Inner Harbor with a stunning view of the city skyline. The family enjoys all of the amenities of a five-star hotel, including a spa and salon, fitness center and indoor pool. The perks of an urban lifestyle mesh with a sense of community for the Graziose family. They enjoy a neighborhood where sporting, cultural, dining and shopping opportunities are within walking distance.
Dream exterior: A brick promenade along the property's periphery, as well as a front entrance courtyard, a port cochere and uniformed staff, imparts upscale, urban ambience. Beautiful private gardens and fountains evoke a country villa feel.
Dream interior: The Grazioses' apartment has an elevator that opens directly into their front entrance hall. Interior embellishments include high ceilings, solid wood-paneled entry doors, wall paneling and crown molding. A state-of-the-art kitchen boasts Viking appliances, white oak cabinetry and black granite countertops. Each window reveals a water view.