From the time Henry Hopkins III ("Hoppy" to all who know him) was 15, he worked in his dad's Mount Vernon silversmith's shop. A former carriage house built in 1897, the building was converted to a shop in 1936, with an apartment above in the space that had been the hayloft.
Hopkins loved the neighborhood so much that when he graduated from high school in northern Baltimore County, he fulfilled his dream of living close to work and to the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he enrolled in fine arts. In 1980, he moved to the carriage house apartment, where he happily remains to this day.
In the beginning, he paid rent to his dad, who is now semi-retired. But as time went on, he assumed responsibility for all expenses and taxes on the property, as well as carrying on the silver business with his sister, Martha.
"You can call it an artist's lair if you like," Hopkins said of his five-room home above his studio. "But everything in here has a reason to be here."
Indeed, every facet of Hopkins' personality - artist-silversmith-musician - is represented in the apartment, which is accessed from ground level by climbing an adjacent hexagonal, two-story brick tower. In rooms with Tudor-like multiframed windows, arched doorways and 20-foot-high ceilings with hand-cut wooden beams, there is a place for everything.
A fire roars in the great room's hearth. All of Hopkins' exotic plants, brought inside for the winter, sit in front of and behind an eclectic blend of furniture from his grandfather's architecture studio. Paintings, mostly landscapes by his mother, sit on shelves and tabletops waiting for frames. Drum sets, a steel drum, a piano and guitar are lined up along the walls of the 425-square-foot room.
"I've been told that I should take these down and grow up," Hopkins said of lighted parrots, chile peppers, half-moons and flamingos strung around the periphery of the great room. "But they make me happy."
He admits that the apartment, with its compact kitchen and small bedrooms, nooks and crannies, would be a tight fit for a spouse or roommate. Still, he has no plans to give up his dream home and silversmith shop below.
"I'm very comfortable here, with a 17-step commute to work," he said.
making the house his own
* Outfitted for one person. Hopkins has placed furniture sparsely throughout the apartment to avoid a claustrophobic feel.
* Personal touches. Family mementos, including his grandfather's architectural drawings and drafting tables, adorn the rooms.