Furnishing the house, feeding the client

The Baltimore Sun

M arin Alsop's interior designer traveled to her parents' Upstate New York house recently to select some family antiques for her new home, a condo in a historic Mount Vernon building that's brimming with 19th-century charm.

The ground-breaking maestra with the ultra-hip BSO dressing room isn't going traditional on us, is she?

"We're not putting in clawfoot chairs and that kind of stuff," Steve Appel of Nouveau Contemporary Goods assured me. "We're doing very modern pieces."

The pieces raided from Alsop's antiques-dealer father's collection - an 18th-century tricycle, a 20th-century Victrola, for example - will be accent pieces meant to play off the home's architectural features. But the furnishings and overall look will be eclectic and modern.

"I have an Art Deco buffet from the 1930s and I have a George Jetson dining table," Appel said, referring to the mix of styles in his own home.

Appel couldn't go into that sort of detail about Alsop's furnishings.

"I have an exclusive with Baltimore magazine. I can't show it or divulge where it is exactly until September."

His secrecy will be rewarded with a five-page spread.

Appel can say this much: it's a 2BR, 2BA condo with a loft and sunken entertainment room and a total of about 1,800 square feet.

He was also free to say what it's been like working with Alsop again. (He gave her BSO dressing room an extreme makeover when she took over as music director in September 2007.)

He said Alsop is very involved in all the details, down to choosing fabrics, wood stains and color combinations. Very decisive. And very hungry.

Alsop is squeezing meetings with her designer in between rehearsals and performances, public appearances and the other obligations of a prominent conductor.

"These guys, she and her assistant - he is right by her side, he drives her back and forth to all these engagements - they spend all day long in Washington and come up here for a meeting and then they have to be at the Morgan choir. We finally figured out we should start feeding them because they're ready to chew their arms off."

Now, when Alsop is on her way over to Nouveau, she calls first.

"She'll be on NPR doing an interview or the National Press Club doing a speech. I'll get a call from her assistant. 'We're in the car. We'll be there in 40 minutes if traffic is good.'

"We'll have diet Cokes and sandwiches ready, and we'll hit the plan."

One look was enough

My column about Leon Kagarise, the late Towson hoarder whose photos of country music stars have just been published in a book, prompted Roy Langhans of Cockeysville to recall a visit to the collector's overstuffed house.

"About a dozen years ago, Leon was recommended to me when I was seeking a record player for my few 78 rpm records," Langhans e-mailed me. "When I telephoned him, he said he had just reconditioned a portable player that would meet my needs, 'but I won't let it go for less than $20!'

"I initially thought it strange that he insisted on meeting me on his porch and not letting me inside his house, but, then, you know the rest of that story.

"I'll never forget the sight when I glanced inside his open door."

Connect the dots

Attention anyone out there following the story of the Buckles family or Matt Jablow's career as a "Webumentarian"- the next installment is out on www.rmhbaltimore.com. That's the Web site for Baltimore's Ronald McDonald House. Jablow, a former WBAL newsman, Baltimore police spokesman and America's Most Wanted producer, is making a Web documentary on a Northern Virginia couple, Kevin and Melissa Buckles, who stay at the Ronald McDonald House when their children come to Baltimore for treatment. (The Buckles are parents of conjoined twins who were separated in 2004; the surgery left one of the girls paralyzed. They have another little girl who has a spinal tumor that threatens to paralyze her.) The first installment of Jablow's documentary went up in late November. ... Bob and Kendel Ehrlich's Christmas card is the grammar lesson that keeps on giving. I wrote the other day about a reader from Towson who wasn't convinced that "The Ehrlich's" had erred. She'd suggested I consult a grammarian at Hopkins. "[Y]our kindly 88 year-old Towson correspondent delivers 'the most unkindest cut of all' to her neighbor, Towson University, by suggesting that you check the 'English Department at Hopkins' for early grammatical usage of the possessive," writes Towson political rhetoric professor Richard Vatz, who regularly invites Bob Ehrlich to address his students. "I suggest that you use Towson University's English Department, which possesses all of the expertise you could use. In fact I have a secret grammatical aide there who helps me when I am grammatically challenged, and that source has never steered me wrong."

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