A place to work, a place to live

The Baltimore Sun

David Wiesand's three-story townhouse in the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore City serves a dual purpose. The entire first floor of the 7,000-square-foot property is devoted to his business designing, crafting and selling home furnishings and objets d'art. The second and third floors make up the comfortable (and slightly extravagant) home he has fashioned for himself and his 21-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

The 52-year-old graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art fills the two levels of living space with hand-built wood furnishings. Also a master of restoration, he has placed antiques beside his museum reproductions in the eight large rooms of living space. Sculptures (authentic and otherwise) and paintings fill every nook.

Wiesand was looking to move his business from Howard Street's Antique Row to more spacious accommodations when he bought the Mount Vernon property in 1999 for what he called the "ridiculously low price [of] less than $100,000." The building offered space for a first-floor showroom, office and 4,000-square-foot workshop.

After a divorce, he decided to turn the second and third floors into his home. But first he had to repair broken floor joists and build a new staircase to the second level.

Today, the finished rooms are reminiscent of the slightly faded beauty of an Italian villa. Original plaster walls have been artfully exposed. Fireplace mantels painted a faux marble appear so authentic that one must touch them to confirm that they are not the real thing.

Furnishings are of several styles and periods, from Classical revival to English country manor.

The only modern room in the house is the second-floor kitchen, which has tumbled marble flooring, exposed ceiling beams and stainless-steel appliances.

Wiesand estimates he spent $300,000 on renovating the property that friends and visitors have called "over-the-top."

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making it his

* Separating work from pleasure. David Wiesand separated his business floor from his living area by erecting a wide staircase with a catwalk overlooking the first level. This created a visible transition between the two spaces.

* Merging the faux with the real. Wiesand has cleverly and tastefully integrated his reproduction handiwork with the authentic antiques he has collected over the years.

* A lesson learned. Wiesand says he wishes that he had never attempted to do the work of a general contractor. During renovation, he tended to get ahead of himself on cosmetic application before realizing that he neglected rough-out work such as wiring and plumbing. In the end, he hired a contractor for these jobs.

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