Dr. Dan Petrus lives off West Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park on a wide street shaded by the branches of old trees in the Baltimore neighborhood.
Every variety of vegetation springs from the front yards of Victorians, brick duplexes, simple framed two-story homes and a smattering of ranchers here.
Petrus' house is a tidy, two-story rectangular wood-frame structure built in 1900. It is covered in soft yellow aluminum siding. The house is 13 feet wide and 45 feet long.
There are no windows on the northern side, but the house creates a feeling of space through its white walls and 9-foot-high ceilings. The four windows on the south side and a rear sliding glass door that opens to a large back yard contribute to that open feeling.
"The first time I walked in, [the house] seemed so big," Petrus says. "It was in great condition when I moved in last December."
Petrus says a fire destroyed the house's interior in 1988 and the previous owner did a complete restoration. That worked well for Petrus, 39, who practices internal medicine at the Chesapeake Veterinarian Referral Center in Towson.
"I can ride my bike to work and be there in 35 minutes," he says.
A brown leather, pub-like sofa and easy chair suite have been placed in the living room. A carved, teak deacon's bench (which Petrus purchased at Washington's Eastern Market on Capitol Hill) adorns the south wall. And a pair of light blue medallion oriental carpets cleverly blanket a secret.
"This is the way to my basement," Petrus says as he rolls over the ends of the carpets to reveal a trap door. Free-standing, ladder-like stairs descend to a cellar with concrete flooring. There are no plans for a club basement, but Petrus says it's great for storage.
The dining room includes an antique chess set that was a graduation gift from Petrus' parents. The game pieces are hand-painted porcelain animals - a lion and lioness represent the king and queen; cheetahs, zebras and elephants are the bishops, knights and rooks; and whimsical monkeys serve as the pawns.
The kitchen features white ceramic tile flooring, white laminate cabinets and butcher-block counters. Petrus plans to update the area in the fall.
Similar plans are scheduled for the back yard, where Petrus wants to pave the concrete patio with brick and install a hot tub. He calls this area "a great party space."
An oak staircase on the north wall of the living room leads to the second story, where a stained-glass window is fitted into the skylight.
A menacing tiger peers from a background of bright green jungle foliage and a blue river. It was designed by Victor Fusco of Atwood Studios in Baltimore.
"I love the stained-glass skylight," says friend Greg Elizondo. "It is the most striking thing in the house, followed by the back yard with lots of possibilities for entertaining."
Petrus adds, "I love how different [the mosaic] looks at various times of the day. Early in the morning, the eyes of the tiger glow, since they are the only part of the panel done in clear glass."
While the upstairs hallway is white, Petrus painted the master bedroom deep blue. An Andrew Wyeth print of a bedroom with a four-poster bed depicts a similar scene in the room. The guest bedroom is painted in pumpkin and cinnabar.
Petrus paid $168,000 for the house. He has spent an additional $6,000 on paint, furniture and his stained-glass panel.
His long-range plans include removing the aluminum siding from the house. But, for the time being, he is content.
"I love being in this part of the city," he says. "There is such a feeling of space here, and it's convenient to downtown."