Scouring Federal Hill, Don Smith and Bob Marciak hoped they would find a spacious rowhouse, a little different in style, that would accommodate their wish for a backyard as a soothing refuge from the bustling city.
They looked at about 50 houses, Smith recalled, before opening the door to a renovated century-old residence where a gas fireplace exuded a welcome feeling, where the wide living room had a wall of built-in cabinets and shelves, and where a graceful staircase and decorative columns drew the eye toward the rest of the house.
"This just flows," Smith said about the home they moved into four years ago.
Since then, Smith and Marciak have been applying their green thumbs to the exterior. The home's lush gardens have graced the Federal Hill South Garden Club calendar for three years, including last year's cover and the photo for this month.
In the front, evergreens are the backdrop for a crape myrtle, datura, perennials and colorful annuals.
The backyard patio, with its pergola, and path are surrounded by butterfly bushes, a dogwood tree, climbing roses, wisteria, lavender, irises and more. Designed to be a mini-haven for people, it's a magnet for butterflies.
"It's like a little oasis back there," Smith said.
Now, however, the couple would like to downsize.
About the house The house has three bedrooms, all on the second floor, two full bathrooms upstairs and a powder room on the first floor. Lighting is recessed; most floors are hardwood. The first floor has 9-foot ceilings. One wall has exposed brick on both levels.
Two skylights bring sunshine to the center of the house. Beneath the larger skylight at the top of the staircase, plants are thriving.
The design of the living room fireplace's decorative columns is echoed in that of the columns at the entry to the dining area. Beyond, a stained-glass window brightens a nook on the way to the kitchen.
The kitchen features oak cabinets topped with black granite, including for the peninsula, a tin ceiling and stainless-steel appliances. Behind the kitchen is a sunny breakfast room, often used as work space and for less-formal entertaining.
Address 1213 S. Hanover St., Baltimore 21230
Asking price $575,000
Size 1,972 square feet, excluding the basement
Features Upstairs, the master suite includes a bathroom and a walk-in closet with shelving.
Another bathroom, this one with a skylight, as well as the same cabinetry and counter as the kitchen, connects two additional bedrooms. Laundry facilities are also on the second floor.
A deck with views of the stadiums is overhead.
"We go up to the roof deck for cocktails. Or on Sunday, we go up and read the newspaper," Smith said.
Part of the basement has been outfitted for a combination office and family room.
A one-car garage at the end of the backyard has an additional storage area.
Listing agent Keene Barroll, Hubble Bisbee Group, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lutherville, 443-824-4178.
To submit a candidate for Desirable Spaces, send photos and a description of the property to Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Real Estate Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or e-mail listing information to email@example.com.