Federal Hill row home is a personal creation


Ivo Jamrosz can relate many interesting facts about the Federal Hill rowhouse that he shares with his family.

For example, he and his wife, Rosalie McCabe, note that the 2 1/2 -story brick dwelling has several distinguishing plaques hung both inside and out. One highlights the restoration of the 1845 property by historic preservationists. And then there is the shiny brass marker noting that the television series, Homicide: Life on the Street, filmed a scene in their living room.

Yet, all these distinctions pale next to one feature:

"Everybody in the neighborhood knows about [my wife's] window," Ivo Jamrosz says with a laugh. "And how she loves to decorate it."

Indeed, the large, multipaned Palladian window at sidewalk level is the dominating presence of the home's facade. And there is no season left unturned when it comes to embellishing its deep interior sills.

The window has entertained friends and neighbors for almost 20 years, back to when the couple purchased their home in 1985 for $105,000. An additional $170,000 has been spent over the years on such upgrades as central air conditioning, flooring and two separate renovations to the kitchen.

The family room in the rear of the home contains a partial addition because "we needed to open this space up," says Jamrosz, 54, a salesman for Ferris, Baker Watts Inc.

The walls in that room are painted a soft shade of lime green (a color that is carried over into the kitchen and dining room) and contrast with white built-in bookshelves and a credenza on the north wall. Windows, also on the north wall, provide ample light and look out on a side garden created by a sally port, or narrow alley, separating the back of the home from its next-door neighbor. An L-shaped sofa in a neutral shade of microfiber rests against the south wall, and it includes a view of the couple's 17-foot-by-8-foot outdoor patio.

East of the family room, the galley kitchen boasts light maple cabinetry, constructed in Shaker style, with simple molding around the doors. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances provide a sleek, uncluttered look.

"There have been so many additions over the years," Jamrosz says. "It's amazing when you think of all the different things that were done to this house."

He refers in particular to the narrow-planked flooring in both the kitchen and family room. Fashioned from heart of pine, with quarter-size knots, it was retrieved from a bar in Fells Point for the renovation.

Wide-planked flooring of white pine is found in the dining and living rooms and is original to the home. A floor-to-ceiling palm tree sits in the northwest corner of the dining room, its long trunk seasonally decorated with lights.

A soft shade of peach paint covers the living room walls, where traditional furniture is scaled to the space. A green silk, tuxedo sofa is placed on the south wall for comfortable viewing of the brick hearth fireplace on the opposite wall. Its wooden mantle, decorated to simulate marble, was a popular style during the period when the house was built. Two floral print, boudoir style chairs sit in front of the Palladian window with four-paneled white shutters. A hand-woven rug from Portugal dominates the room. The rug showcases needlepoint carnations against a black background.

The home's second floor contains two white porcelain-tiled bathrooms, one with a skylight. A second-floor addition in the rear of the home serves as family room, office, TV room and guestroom. The master bedroom in the front of the second level is whimsically decorated with dark peach walls against white molding. Roman shades on the two windows feature a picket fence design in colors of yellow and red.

Narrow steps littered with clothing and shoes point the way to the third-floor garret where son, McCabe Jamrosz, 18, has his bedroom.

Rosalie McCabe, 58, reflects on her 19 years in the dream home that she calls a personal creation, a place where she and her husband raised their son and continue to entertain many friends.

As for the front window that friend Peggi Powell calls "a statement of who she is," McCabe is sentimental.

"I do decorate the window for every occasion," she says. "It holds our family history, and I have pictures from every year."

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