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Ahoy Annapolis Empty nesters re-feather a home in the city’s historic district

The assignment was a fun one: A married couple, who previously lived in Phoenix, Maryland, was looking for a fresh start after their children went off to college.

The husband, a graduate of the Naval Academy, has ongoing ties to the area, so the Annapolis Historic District seemed like the right place for the pair to settle. Baltimore-based interior designer Katherine Crosby of Jenkins Baer & Associates oversaw the redesign of this four-story, 4,700-square-foot historic house in downtown Annapolis.

“My clients enjoy a well-appointed home, but they found the process of organizing their existing pieces and designing for a new phase of their life overwhelming,” Crosby says. “I took all that off their plate, so they could actually enjoy the selection process.”

The 1916 Georgian-style house purchased had good bones: hardwood floors, an open main floor plan and attractive trim and moldings. Yet, everything needed a refresh, whether it was fresh paint, wall coverings or new carpeting. An early challenge was how to tie the home’s four floors together.

“The home is vertically oriented and a room deep,” Crosby says, “with a switchback staircase running from the ground level (basement) to the third floor, providing each story with a view of Spa Creek. Since the stairs are such a key connector, we chose a textural tone-on-tone botanical grass cloth to tie everything together and create a special experience as you move vertically through the home.”

The house has two entrances, one from the backyard and parking level in the basement and one from the front door facing the street. Upon entry to the main living level, the floor plan is open, yet spatially divided into a large living room, with wings off of it that include a library nook, breakfast eat-in, formal dining area and galley kitchen.

“The home already had comfortable spaces for small and large gatherings,” Crosby says. “We wanted to maintain the open feel without any major architectural changes but add definition and purpose to each space. Our approach was casual but elegant.

And, despite being on the water, the couple did not want the house to have a beach- home feel, she adds.

Crosby made each nook feel intentional and independent with furnishings, area rugs and light fixtures.

She used their existing traditional furniture and added some transitional pieces to make the look current but still timeless. For example, the breakfast eat-in features a new custom banquette set about an existing pedestal table; a light fixture with a pleated shade hangs above it. On the main level, the continuity between the nooks is achieved by the same curtains, hardware and, of course, palette.

“Throughout, we selected a soft organic palette, using natural linen hues, pale blues, warm ochres and blush tones, pulling from the landscape and water outside as it changes with the seasons,” Crosby says. “Every room has a view, and every view is framed by drapery to add a layer of softness,” she adds.

The plentiful windows also have motorized woven shades to provide light control, with blackout shades in the bedrooms. The second-floor master suite was reimagined as an elegant retreat, and the third-story attic was converted into a fun, welcoming space with a more contemporary feel for when their daughters come to visit.

“It works beautifully for their new lifestyle,” Crosby adds. “Everyone has a private space, yet they can come together in a variety of gathering spaces. They can also easily walk to town, explore and enjoy the offerings outside their home.”

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