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Visitors to Carey Jacobs’ home often tell her, “Your house is very un-Baltimore.”
At first, Jacobs, who was raised in Hanover, Pa., wasn’t sure what they meant. But since starting her interior design firm in 2008, she’s identified some common traits of traditional Baltimore homes: a color scheme that features deep reds and golds (except for a room that might be pink and green). Oriental rugs. Antique silver on an antique buffet. Dark furniture. Formal rooms.
In that sense, Jacobs’ visitors are right: her house is very un-Baltimore. Instead of red and yellow, the palette is fresh white with pops of color and pattern. A huge wooden gear mold from a mill hangs on the wall, along with a pair of framed aprons she picked up in an antiques store. There’s no dining room. But there is a fire pole.
The house was built in 1801 as a four-room farmhouse, and before Jacobs and her husband, Alex, a “serial entrepreneur” who owns Copper- mine Fieldhouse in Bare Hills, bought it in 2000, it had already been expanded twice. The couple and their 8-year-old twins lived in the home for seven years while Jacobs planned another major addition, expanding the home’s 2,400 square feet to roughly 6,000. In 2007, they moved out for a year and she began creating what she calls her design laboratory.
The heart of the home is the open kitchen/dining area, an airy and expansive space anchored by a wood-burning fireplace, one of three in the house. “I wanted a messed-up look for the fireplace,” says Jacobs, explaining that the reclaimed brick comes from a Federal Hill rowhouse. “I wanted to make sure this was an imperfect house so the addition wouldn’t scream ‘addition.’”
Like all the rooms in the house, the kitchen/dining area features chic, comfortable furniture. “There are no ‘don’t touch’ areas,” says Jacobs, who says her clients tend to be people with families wanting aesthetically pleasing homes that are practical for life with children.
During the renovation, Jacobs had hoped to preserve the home’s original staircase but, she says, “We couldn’t get it to work out so we decided to have a fire pole instead.
It’s a hit whenever the kids have friends over.”
That sense of playfulness is evident throughout the home in various found objects that have been repurposed—an antique wooden toy truck on the kitchen island, for example, now holds fruit, and in her son’s room, where a swing hangs from a wooden beam.
The play meshes with pops of color and pattern in the home’s various wallcoverings, which range from teal flocked wallpaper in a powder room to 1960s butterfly wallpaper in Jacobs’ daughter’s bathroom. Jacobs’ parents have owned York Wallcoverings since 1980, and she developed her design sense working there.
She studied communications in college and never planned to become a interior designer. But after people saw her house they started asking for her help designing spaces that reflect their personal taste as much as hers does. “One client said to me, ‘I can’t have the Baltimore house.’” Jacobs knew just what she meant.