The Baltimore Sun

A rowhouse is reborn

Contractor invests money - and plenty of sweat - to restore South Baltimore home Four years ago, Andy Totz purchased a century-old, two-story rowhouse in the 1400 block of S. Hanover St.

Totz, the 39-year-old owner of Hawkeye Construction Co., was intrigued by the challenge of restoring a house that had seen better days. He paid $140,000 and then poured another $200,000 - and plenty of sweat - into the former rental property.

"I gutted half the house, rebuilt, then added on," he said. "I'd work on the weekends."

The house has irregular dimensions - the result of its wedge-shaped lot. Fourteen feet at the front, it widens to 16 feet at the kitchen addition. A large backyard is a spacious 30 feet wide and includes a patio area, along with a guest suite atop a two-car garage.

Totz moved into his self-proclaimed "bachelor pad" two years ago, but gave up that status when he married in January.

"I didn't have much to do with the house," said his wife, Marci Totz. "My job was to decide what color we [should] paint the walls."

The house's design and d?cor are rustic modern, with exposed brick walls in the living room, and cherry doors and kitchen cabinets.

There is a sleek, clean appeal in the kitchen, marked by the contrast of cherry counters, cabinets, and stainless steel appliances. A 12 1/2 -foot island is set off by a polished granite countertop. An ornately stenciled tin ceiling is framed in wood, giving the appearance of a tray ceiling. An added embellishment is the placement of lamps within the molding, which casts a soft glow onto the tin.

An authentic Coca-Cola cooler from the '30s serves as a food storage bin for Maggie, the couple's large dog.

"Andy finds a lot of things in the houses he renovates," Marci Totz remarked in reference to the cooler. "Recycling is a wonderful thing."

Other finds include four stained-glass transoms that hang on the living room walls as well as an 8-foot wood armoire. An overstuffed, pub-style sofa covered in sage green duck cloth sits in the center of the room in front of a credenza and high-definition TV.

"These stair treads are from old floor joists," Andy Totz remarked, indicating the open staircase supported by steel beams.

A flight down leads to the finished basement, or what his wife calls "the man cave."

Gray stone veneer covers the walls there, and a pair of black leather easy chairs accompanies a red leather club-style sofa for relaxed seating before a 110-inch-screen TV. A fully stocked cherry bar is outfitted with refrigerator and sink.

Upstairs is the master suite with huge marble bath and shower, as well as a guest room at the end of a long hall. A guest bath and utility room are off the hall, behind cherry doors.

The third-floor addition is filled with exercise equipment and has an additional powder room. Outside stairs from the second floor roof lead to a deck atop the third floor that on a clear day affords a vista well into western Baltimore County.

"Everything is close by down here, and there's so much change in the works," Marci Totz said of the neighborhood. "I'm president of the South Baltimore Improvement Committee, and the key is to get involved."

The couple have no intention of leaving their renovated dream home filled with "leftovers" from refurbished houses all over the city.

"If we need to see country, we'll drive out on the weekends," said Andy Totz.

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