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Interiors

Settling Into a Baltimore Home With History

by Annie Werbler

In what was originally built as a temporary church in the 1800s, graphic designer Andre Cawley and civil servant Chris Uhl share a one-bedroom home in the historic Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. The building’s long history includes stints as a Johns Hopkins doctor’s office with 1920s Art Deco flair, and was later transformed into public housing from the 50s to the 90s, before finally being converted into condos in 2005. Today, this unit is one of the few in the building that retains most of its original details such as picture moldings and antique floors.

When Andre and Chris decided to buy a home together over two years ago, they initially looked at places in the surrounding suburbs located nearby their jobs in Annapolis at the time. They put in several offers on other houses, but one after another, each fell through. Andre liked the idea of going back to Baltimore City, as he had lived there previously and enjoyed the area’s rich history and vibrant nightlife spots. After checking out the building and the condo, the couple realized that despite this home not being the house they had in mind when they first started the process, it was the perfect size, had an open floorplan, a historic character they loved, and was already updated with modern amenities. By the time they closed on the condo, they were so excited that they started moving their things in the same day. Since then, they’ve had all the walls and trim painted in Sherwin Williams “Incredible White,” and the architectural trimwork coated in “Snowbound” to brighten up the rooms and start fresh. They also swapped out existing light fixtures for modern favorites, like the Patrick Townsend chandelier over the dining table and Muuto hanging pendants above the kitchen island.

Before living here, the pair decorated strictly in that ubiquitous mid-century style, but after moving into the condo and continuing to furnish more slowly, their taste has expanded to include a mix of heirloom pieces from their families, like portraits of the Alaskan landscape taken by Chris’ grandfather 30 years ago. Because the condo is on the first floor, one of the more challenging things to get right has been strategically filtering in natural light. Between shadows cast by surrounding buildings and the need to protect from prying eyes on the street, the unit doesn’t receive an ideal amount of the sun’s rays. Andre and Chris have remedied that problem by frosting the glass on windows facing the alley, which may not be true to period norms, but it’s just another adaptation over a long lifetime of continual developments. —Annie

Photography by Andre Cawley

Settling Into a Baltimore Home With History, on Design*Sponge
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The main living space in Andre Cawley and Chris Uhl's Baltimore condo features a contrast of classic molding details with ductwork exposed during renovations, and vintage tables mixed with newer decorative touches from West Elm.
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Photos of the homeowners flank a shapely vintage table lamp adaptable to many different eras.
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The vintage credenza was a steal at $75, and it's paired with a Pier 1 wicker chair and Crate & Barrel Milo Baughman leather chair for a varied textural arrangement.
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The open concept living and dining area maximize the available sunlight on the building's first floor.
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"If we had more light," Andre laments, "I'd have a lot more plants on the window sills!"
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A Patrick Townsend orbit chandelier replaced the dated track lighting that the previous owner had installed. Crate & Barrel Vienna chairs tuck beneath a West Elm dining table and play off the black wooden blinds.
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The scenic framed photos between the windows were shot by Andre on a trip to the Bahamas last year.
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Andre Cawley and and Chris Uhl share the Crate & Barrel Milo Baughman leather lounge chair with room for two.
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A built-in unit extends form the kitchen island into Andre's workspace. Above the computer hangs a replica of a piece by Anne Collier in which the artist used a fold-out poster of Madonna from a 1993 vinyl. Andre liked the shot by Steven Miesel, and was able to find a copy of the same vinyl that included this poster. He then framed it with a simple IKEA Ribba in white.
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Chris loves his books, and though he recently downsized, anticipates buying more books to fill the shelves back up! The owl carvings are from Chris' grandmother and the brass shells are from Chris' grandfather. Coincidentally, Chris' grandmother had a painted tile of the Washington Monument (which is only two blocks away), so she gifted it to the couple.
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In the bedroom, a photo taken by Chris' grandfather from his time in Alaska is displayed above the desk. MiY Home sheets, a Pottery Barn duvet, Kate Spade Saturday for West Elm throw pillow adorn the Colette upholstered nailhead-trimmed bed from Crate & Barrel.
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Left side of the bed, with a small desk along the wall for Chris. The couple also uses the monitor that sits on the desk as a makeshift TV when they want to watch movies in bed.
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Votives sit in front of Andre's striking great grandfather, who served in WWII. The second photo was taken by his stepmother of the Sicilian coastline when his Naval family was stationed there during the 90s.
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Tulip side tables from Overstock are used as nightstands. The large planter came from Chris' grandparents, and bears a painted mark with their family name.
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Above the bed is another of the shot taken by Chris' grandfather in Alaska. On the back wall, two vintage George Copeland pieces were found in a barn on the Eastern Shore.
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"What we love most about our home is that it's OURS, in a city that we LOVE." - Andre Cawley and Chris Uhl
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The one-bedroom condo's efficient floorplan.

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