Location's key for two drawn to city house

The Baltimore Sun

To Nick Marulli and Tim Bennett, city means much more than their house's location.

"This is a way of life for us," said Marulli, a 50-year-old NASA employee.

So when he and Bennett, a firefighter in Washington, purchased a three-story brick rowhouse in Upper Fells Point, the neighbors, neighborhood association and proximity to shopping and restaurants were as important as the house itself.

The rowhouse's interior, which had been down to the joists and completely renovated by its former owner, suited Bennett and Marulli in large part because it required nothing more than painting the rooms to their taste. Its 12-foot-wide-by-60-foot-long dimensions posed no decorating challenges in that a series of four cleverly positioned tray ceilings, from the front of the house to the back, defines each room as much as the furniture and wall treatment.

Marulli, who takes credit for the decorating, fashioned a space that exudes warmth from wall colors of dark cinnamon and sunflower yellow. Ceiling dentil molding, painted white and running throughout the first level, provides continuity from room to room and contrast with the walls. French doors enable more light to enter the kitchen and the living room.

Marulli chose a traditional living room set upholstered in moleskin in shades of soft coral, muted green and chocolate brown. Oak floors on all three levels add to the warmth.

Marulli enjoyed getting artistic in trompe l'oeil style on the walls of a second-floor office. Here, he sponged gold-colored paint over a base of light chocolate brown for a marblelike effect. The area inside the tray ceilings of the master bedroom and guest room are "speckled" in similar fashion.

From the couple's third-floor deck (there is one off the second level as well), the tall buildings of downtown provide a vibrant backdrop to a foreground of rooftops with satellite dishes, backyard gardens and more decks.

"We bought this house to live in and be comfortable in," Marulli said.

And living in a neighborhood of shops, schools, pubs and churches, he is able to say, "There's always something to do."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Write to Dream Home, Home & Garden Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or e-mail us at dreamhomes@baltsun.com.

making the house their own

* Nick Marulli is an avid collector of old Baltimore maps, which he has framed and hung on the walls. One map, dated 1869, includes their home and street.

* Tim Bennett, who enjoys gardening, has created a delightful backyard area with rosebushes and a variety of foliage in a raised, brick-lined garden. A plaster statue of St. Francis watches over his handiwork.

* Marulli reworked the home's contemporary-looking first-floor black-marble fireplace by building a wooden mantel and adding carved columns on each side of the hearth for a more traditional look.

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