Architect Brian Swanson expanded the existing space in the condo and added sophisticated, functional features such as the slot niches that appear in almost all of the rooms— creating dimension and display space for the owner’s decorative pieces. Opposite,floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of the harbor and wash the living room in sunlight.
Architecht Brian Swanson’s approach to design can be easily explained: it’s all about the vistas. “When you turn left or right,” he says, “you should feel like a pinball machine, bouncing around, always looking at points of interest.” Creating those points of interest was one of the central components of Swanson’s renovation of a two-story condominium in Canton Cove.
The previous owner had renovated the condo but never lived there. “Before” photos show bright red laminate covering everything from kitchen countertops to cabinetry to headboards. The first-floor living room was small and the entryway led directly into the kitchen. On the second floor were three small bedrooms, including what Swanson refers to as a “cubbyhole” of a master bedroom. Swanson felt these elements opposed the spirit of the condo and the entire building. “Here you are on the water’s edge— you can see Fort McHenry across the way!” he says. But the floor plan was too closed-in to allow the own- er to enjoy the openness. So Swanson’s goal in the renovation, which took 18 months, was to expand and enhance the space.
He started his redesign at the entryway, which routed visitors under a low ceiling either into the kitchen on the left or straight into the living room. “When you open the door, you have to be intrigued,” says Swanson, whose credits include the Atlantic Restaurant in Canton, Donna’s in Charles Village, Octavia in Reisterstown and the Towson University bookstore. To enhance the hallway’s appeal, Swanson redirected the entryway and closed off access to the kitchen, adding an entry table with mirror, wood paneling and slot niches into the walls to display some of the owner’s decorative pieces.
As a result of the redirection, when the owner or her guests enter the condo they are greeted with a truly dramatic vista: a baby grand piano sits in front of the enormous windows that overlook the harbor. Now, says Swanson, entering the 2,960-square-foot condo is like entering a European cathedral. “You enter through the vestibule under the low ceiling, then it soars up,” he says.
The redirection of the entryway allowed Swanson to give the owner more space in the kitchen, where the once laminate-covered interior boasts granite countertops, a black and copper Italian Bisazza glass tile backsplash and maple wood cabinets (to which a special pear wood-color pigment was added). The latest and greatest in kitchen appliances appear here, from a built-in Miele coffee machine, which can be programmed once a week to produce coffee all week long, to a sink that does double duty as a steamer for cooking and as a garbage disposal.
Swanson enlarged the living room, illuminated at all hours by the wall of 18-by-15-foot windows, by moving the wall between it and the first-floor guest bedroom. A sleek granite bench runs along one wall, lit from beneath, while a 50-inch flat-screen television, along with a bank of audiovisual equipment, resides inside a custom-made cabinet, which rotates. Creating the design for the cabinet took three months, and the niches on its sides echo the slot niches that appear throughout the house.
On the second floor, Swanson converted the three small bedrooms into an office and master bedroom loft that overlooks the living room and takes advantage of the same striking view. As elsewhere, Swanson’s tiny touches of sophistication are evident in the master bathroom, where the top and bottom six inches of silvering in the vanity mirror were removed, leaving the clear glass, which Swanson backlit with slim-line fluorescent bulbs. This imparts an even glow to the face and reduces the appearance of shadow lines.
Also, Swanson arranged the placement of the bench in the steam shower so that one can look out through a tiny window at Fort McHenry— just another stunning vista for the owner of this Canton condo to enjoy.
Architect/design: Brian Swanson, Baltimore, 410-377-2750
Kitchen cabinets: Cabinart, 301-466-3391
Bathroom cabinets: Poplar Custom Cabinetry, 410-276-4717
General contractor: Bay City Builders, 410-732-8415
Audiovisual cabinets/metal fabrication: Lukeworks, 410-366-6161
AV equipment: Soundscape, 410-889-1134
Electrical: Fleet Electric, 410-342-517