Modular home is classy assembly in Butchers Hill

From the sidewalk in front of the Butchers Hill home of Jay Rubin and Frank Mondimore, a reminder unique to Maryland sport gives passers-by pause. Stubby and banged-up duckpins, alongside shiny bowling trophies, line the sills inside of two street-level windows. Next to that hometown image, a flower urn sits on a concrete slab in front of double oak doors, their arched windows reflecting the corner grocery store across the street.

The brick exterior looks new, providing a clue that this house is a relatively recent arrival to the block. With a design that fits seamlessly into the fabric of the renovated rowhouses around it, the house is one of six properties constructed by Stonington Builders, LLC., a Maryland- based development company specializing in modular homes.

"These homes were built from the ground up in a factory, two modules per floor," said Frank Mondimore, adding with tongue in cheek, "We live in a four-story double-wide."

The duckpin "shrine" is actually a small office and sitting room just inside the vestibule door off a hallway that ends at the two-car garage. A powder room is also on this ground level.

At the top of the staircase to the second level, kitchen and formal dining room unfold in an open layout that is 22 feet wide by 45 feet deep. The space is bright with six large windows and two sets of glass doors that open onto a balcony and soak up the daylight like sponges. There is warmth here, both literally and figuratively, with walls painted soft yellow and a profusion of rich wood tones in the furniture pieces. Even the oak flooring stands in dramatic contrast to ceiling and floor molding painted white. Two free-standing columns are the demarcation point of the two modules.

"We bought the house for $680,000 and moved from Homeland in January 2009," said Mondimore, a 57-year-old doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "Now we are both closer to work and to The Anchorage, where we keep our 35-foot [boat]."

The house, built in 2007, needed little or no renovation, but the couple added a few upgrades such as ceiling fans, wall sconces, chandelier, kitchen tiles and lighting.

Of all the embellishments made to the home, Mondimore and Rubin are most proud of the results in their galley kitchen. Maple cabinets, stainless appliances and granite countertops were standard features that cried out for tile backsplashes. The two had one-inch tiles in variegated shades placed all the way to the ceiling, sleekly trimmed with longer rectangular tiles.

Living room colors have been based on a large silk wall hanging with furniture echoing the piece in muted shades of tan and red. A dark walnut entertainment cabinet features screen-like doors carved in wood squares that add Asian flair.

The master suite comprises the home's entire third level. Here, in shades of soft yellow and celery green, the two have recaptured the lovely gardens they enjoyed at their previous residence.

"We brought the Homeland garden with us," said Jay Rubin, a 49-year-old development coordinator at Peabody Institute and Conservatory. Large, unframed photographs of sunflowers, petunias and other varieties hang over the bed, while a larger photo of their former stone house and garden in the Baltimore neighborhood hangs on an opposite wall. Double doors open onto a balcony fill with potted plants. The large master bath features a rectangular soapstone soaking tub.

On the fourth level, a large game room has a wet bar and sliders that lead to the rooftop deck. The front of this level features a guest room.

"When we moved here from [Homeland], the cost of living decreased for us," said Mondimore. "We don't pay for parking at work, and 11 solar panels on the roof handle 33 percent of the electricity generated."

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Making the dream

Dream element: "Our house was so appealing because of its location and interior two-car garage," said Jay Rubin. It's also close to everything the couple needs. "We are three blocks from the [Patterson Park] Pagoda, nine blocks from Johns Hopkins Hospital and four blocks from the harbor [in Canton.] There is no maintenance [here], and the rooms are light and spacious," added Frank Mondimore.

Dream design: The four-story, end-of-group, brick rowhouse features beloved Baltimore design elements such as front steps and traditional vestibule entry. Two large wrought-iron balconies on the second and third stories, as well as a fourth-story exterior patio, provide delightful views of the houses, shops and steeples of East Baltimore and the harbor beyond.

Dream interior: Furnishings lean toward contemporary-eclectic with one or two antique pieces placed into the mix. The lovely formal dining room at the front of the home's second level features a stunning centerpiece in the form of a hanging birdcage-style crystal chandelier. Matching wall sconces that the two found in Vienna hang on either side of a large mirror. An oval Biedermeier oak table and matching chairs sit under the chandelier, providing elegant contrast with the light walls.