Marlene Koeppel stands in the salon of her dream home on Slade Avenue in Pikesville. The portrait behind her is of her as a young woman.
Marlene Koeppel stands in the salon of her dream home on Slade Avenue in Pikesville. The portrait behind her is of her as a young woman. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

In life, you don't always get exactly what you want. But once in a while, when you do, it turns out to be something wonderful. Such is the case with Marlene Koeppel's dream home.

"I had always wanted this condo," she said, her petite frame, wide eyes and stylish short haircut belying her 72 years. "This was Jack Meyerhoff's condo."

Jack Meyerhoff was the builder of the well-regarded Pikesville condominium building known simply as "11 Slade Avenue." For his living quarters there, Meyerhoff designed a very special unit on the second floor.

"The floors are inlaid, hand-waxed oak laid in the Versailles pattern. The walls are carved and paneled wood, and [there are] floor-to-ceiling windows," said Koeppel, pointing out some of the highlights. "I am at the optimal height for the tree tops. I feel like I'm in Manhattan, overlooking the park."

The main portion of her 4,000-square-foot home consists of two living areas and a spacious dining room that she refers to as a "salon…in my Venetian palace". The size, decor and the windows looking beyond the trees recall a glamorous apartment in a Beaux Arts building on New York's Upper West Side.

Marlene Koeppel, the widow of Dr. Jerome Koeppel, and herself a retired systems manager for IBM, moved into her dream home in 2010 after spending several years at Harbor Court Condominiums in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Relocating to be near her second love and companion, Alvin Meyerberg, did not, in the end, work out for her. He died soon after the move. Still, she made the best of a tragic loss and began to renovate the apartment.

Spending close to $100,000, the renovation included tearing off wallpaper, repairing nicked walls, replacing the kitchen and adding new foyer lighting.

It is the foyer that sets the elegant tone of the home. Here, on an antique French baker's rack is an extensive collection of Victorian English Majolica pottery while a whimsical Raoul Duffy watercolor of a carnival scene hangs on an opposite wall.

Two massive carved oak doors open onto the salon, itself a complete vision of exceptional furnishings in that every piece, displayed as though in a museum or high-end antique shop, is a treasure from Koeppel's lifelong love of collecting, which she shared with her husband.

"He collected the art. I collected the objects," she said teasingly about her home's objets d'art.

In her 32-foot-by-18-foot salon, Walter Nichols art-deco rugs sit on dark oak floors, along with a Beacon Hill custom breakfront from the 1940s, fashioned of mahogany with rosewood inlay. The piece, which once belonged to her mother, showcases, among other treasures, a set of sterling silver chalices behind beveled glass doors. In the salon's far corner an antique English oak partner desk displays photographs and a carved bronze desk set.

In the center of the salon, Koeppel has placed a McGuire octagonal mahogany table with a beveled glass top on which sits a large Dale Chihuly vase in shades of blue, as well as favorite pieces of English pottery from the 1920s and 1930s.

"These are my favorites, as seen in the tea sets and sugar shakers in the salon and the jugs in the kitchen," she said.

Resplendent in the dining room is Koeppel's 9-foot-long double-pedestal Duncan Phyfe table of inlaid mahogany surrounded by McGuire bamboo chairs of Belle Epoch styling. An antique silver service engraved with the date 1865 rests on an open, three-tiered cart adjacent to the table.

Koeppel counts her bright and sunny kitchen, with its bamboo flooring and buttermilk yellow cabinets, among her favorite rooms in the home.

An antique pool ball cabinet displays a collection of Majolica butter plates in a variety of bright colors while framed menus from restaurants around the globe grace the walls. Many are signed by the head chef or maitre d' and include The Jockey Club in Madrid and The Wildflower in Vail, Colo.

Another wing of the home features a guest room, the master suite and two bathrooms. A sink in the master bathroom is a redesigned antique Chippendale Potthast base with a honed marble top. Other treasures here include Gabrielle Clements prints of early Baltimore, two antique Louis Vuitton steamer trunks in the dressing room and a Max Papart painting titled "A Woman from Venus" on the wall of the master bedroom.

"I have lost the most important men in my life," said Koeppel, seated at her dining room table. "So I try to find solace in surrounding myself with the beautiful collections that I love, that mean so much to me and are part of the fabric of my life."

And with her voice lowered, she adds, "But they are only material things."

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Making the dream

Dream element: Marlene Koeppel resides in a large second-floor side unit at the Pikesville high-rise known as 11 Slade Avenue. Her double-sized residence looks out upon trees in the foreground and the golf course of the nearby Suburban Club. The building is a block from busy Reisterstown Road and close to the Baltimore Beltway for easy shopping and commuting.

Dream design: "The unique part of my decor is that it is eclectic," Koeppel said, speaking of her original artwork from several periods and styles, her myriad collections of china, glassware, and antique furniture. All furnishings are set against the understated elegance of carved and paneled walls painted a rich cream color.

Dream accessories: Koeppel's home is a tribute to years of collecting beautiful art and furnishings, a hobby she shared with her husband. Particular favorites include Grace Hartigan paintings, an original Lautrec poster and an Alphonse Mucha painting.