When Frank and Sandy Gurchik decided on a clutter-free lifestyle in their 830-square-foot condo, they discovered the feeling of total liberation.

"People come to visit and ask, 'Where's the stuff? Do you really live here?'" said Sandy Gurchik, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Excellence.


The answer is yes. In fact, this is one of two units the couple own in The Penthouse, a downtown Towson high-rise. In October 2013, while living on the 21st floor, the two decided to purchase an additional, smaller apartment three stories higher as an investment property.

But it was not long before the Gurchiks realized the newly purchased condo was where they wanted to be — and that a large single-family home could wait.

This second condo, however, needed a total renovation to make it a comfortable space. And that would only happen by making the most of its smaller size.

The couple hired Larry Soth and S&S Home Improvement to do the work. The biggest interior structural change was the removal of the wall separating a small galley kitchen from the living room. With that complete, the unit came alive with possibilities.

"There was no room for air," said Frank Gurchik, a mortgage loan officer with PNC. "Everything has its place."

And because the two viewed every bit of the renovation process as an investment, they did not compromise on any embellishments. They had the floors covered with Brazilian cherry wood, replaced all of the interior doors, added upgraded molding and even installed ipe (a tropical hardwood) deck tile on the balcony.

A foyer leads to the living area of the condo. A framed 6-by-4-foot black-and-white photograph of New York City's Flatiron Building hangs on the far living room wall, next to the room's large window overlooking the buildings of Towson. The juxtaposition of the two cityscapes is notable, as is the photo's tie-in to the black, white and gray scheme of the unit's modern and angular decor.

A tufted black leather sectional sofa is the prominent feature of the living room. Color accents include throw pillows and a large canvas depicting a guitar floating on a background of geometric blocks of color. Sandy Gurchik bought the abstract piece from Maitreyii Fine Art in Texas for her husband, a formally trained jazz guitarist. A black glass coffee table sits in front of the sofa, and on the wall opposite, a white lacquer console holds CDs, DVDs and other electronics. A flat-screen TV is on the wall above it, flanked by black hanging wedge lights.

At the rear of the unit, a window dressed in a solar screen keeps out the sun's glare without sacrificing the view. But the outside isn't the only thing to gaze upon. This is also an ideal spot from which to take in the beauty and efficiency of the kitchen.

Stainless appliances in the kitchen coordinate with maple cabinets painted white. An unusual backsplash is made of Spanish ceramic tile arranged to create a 3-D wave design.

Four low-backed leather bar stools in light gray surround a cherry wood island, where the gray tones of its granite top contrast with the black granite countertops of the sink and counter. Three stainless tube-like lamps hang over the island, casting a prismatic effect on a crystal bowl.

The unit's only bathroom is off of a small hall adjacent to the kitchen. A stacked washer and dryer are behind a closet door, while a sliding pocket door closes off the bathroom from the rest of the unit without taking the space of a hinged door.

The couple's bedroom features sliding panels to the outdoor balcony. (A second set of panels leads to the balcony from the living room.) The dark wood bedroom set, purchased from Havertys, is a pleasing contrast to the cream-colored walls. The bed's headboard is black leather. A standout piece of art is found on the dresser — a gilt Thai headdress studded with jewels and displayed on a wooden stand.

Wicker and cushioned balcony furniture makes for a comfortable spot from which to view Towson and, beyond, the hills of northern Baltimore County. On clear days and nights, the couple can see East Baltimore's Natty Boh sign and the neon orange of the Domino Sugars sign.


"Thunderstorms are really cool from up here," Sandy Gurchik said.

Frank Gurchik added, "This is our little slice of elevated heaven."