David Young's townhouse in Baltimore's Village of Cross Keys has all the hallmarks of a country gentleman's London retreat — and the style fits him like a pair of fine English leather gloves.
Prior to the spring of 2006, the 74-year-old retired employee of the Department of Agriculture had been living in Ellicott City. After 15 years there, the urban bug bit.
"I was spending so much time in town," Young said. "I am active at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, a frequent patron at the Meyerhoff, Lyric, Walters, BMA [and] Center Club, as well as other in-town locations."
The townhouse Young purchased was 50 years old. As an end-of-group, however, its placement at the far corner of a court, surrounded by a variety of old trees enclosing a brick patio, rendered a bucolic setting. Sadly, the home's interior lacked the ambience of the exterior. In a serious state of disrepair — there had never been any renovations or improvements — it was hardly the place for David Young's traditional English-style furnishings and vast collection of artwork.
"I am an only child [of English descent], so I inherited all the china, sterling and crystal from my parents, and never had to go to the expense of purchasing costly items for entertaining," he said, adding, "I enjoy traveling and have done quite a bit of hiking in Europe, England, Africa, Tasmania, New Zealand, Canada and the western U.S.
"I've taken many pictures and had them framed, and they bring back pleasant memories. Also, when I've seen items such as paintings, a favorite print from the art museum in Shanghai [and] animal figures from Russia, I'll purchase the item, and again they remind me of the enjoyment of visiting that part of the world."
He needed a renovation.
Young contacted Marianne Fishman of Row House Interiors, a design company in Baltimore. The first order of business was to hire a contractor. Renovation would take almost nine months and would include new electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation, and total demolition of the kitchen.
Fishman started by asking about Young's style of living — his hobbies, activities, places he liked to go and things he liked to do.
"Finally when we started to talk 'business,' it was in the broadest perspective," Young said. "I told her I liked earth tones [and that] I wanted a relatively masculine appearance. I wanted convenience and the ease of a walk-in shower with high-powered jet sprays for my back [and] a high-powered microwave."
The two decided to switch out the existing den for a formal dining room next to the kitchen. These are the first two rooms encountered from the front hall, where walls are covered with tone-on-tone beige paper hung over butternut-painted paneling. Three-inch-wide cherry wood flooring is found throughout the first level, with exotic rugs used as accents. Paintings and photographs are placed in gallery fashion along the hallway, and the adjacent cherry wood staircase walls. The immediate feel is at once warm, rich, traditional and very English.
The dining room is furnished with Queen Anne-style cherry wood buffets and a table paired with antique Chippendale-style chairs. The centerpiece of the room is a fireplace. Ceilings and floor moldings throughout the home are painted in a butternut shade that enhances the cherry shelving units, the wood and gilt picture frames, the fine china and crystal and myriad fabrics, such as drapes with heavy Jacobean print. In the kitchen, cherry is used again, this time for the cabinets. Countertops are granite.
Three rooms and two full baths are on the second level, each decorated with traditional furniture of oak and cherry and complemented with artwork on the walls.
"A favorite oil painting I have is by David Schwindt, titled 'Chama Valley Cliffs,' " Young said. "[I] hiked to the apex of the cliffs depicted in his painting while on a visit to Georgia O'Keefe's home in New Mexico. I don't purchase items just because they are attractive, or appeal to me. I buy them because I was 'on site' and as such, a part of the presence of the painting or picture."
Young enjoys entertaining friends in his home and sharing stories of his travels. But he also revels in the quiet of his urban retreat, which combines the best of city and country living.
"I basically live upstairs where the den and my bedroom are located," he said. "I enjoy reading, which I can do very comfortably from a swivel rocker chair in my bedroom, and which faces the patio below and the forest in the background."
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