Andrew Obeirne and his wife, Patricia Schraeder, have lived all over Maryland during their nine years of marriage, but they knew that when they retired they would make Baltimore their home. After moving out of a large house in Montgomery County, they rented houses on Gough and Pratt streets and came to love city living and all the perks of living next to Patterson Park.
Five years ago, they bought a late 19th-century townhouse one block west of the park and enlisted designer Marianne Fishman of Row House Interiors to help them create their perfect retirement retreat. Although the house had recently been renovated, Obeirne and Schraeder knew they wanted to make major renovations. “We decided early on we would make it exactly how we wanted and take no shortcuts,” says Obeirne.
Fishman aided them in designing a house that is predominantly traditional, while incorporating some of the couple’s existing furnishings and reflecting their interests and collections. Much attention was given to small architectural details such as custom crown mouldings and curved lines in the ceilings and walls.
When the couple bought the house, the master bedroom had an attached nursery. The couple removed the nursery and built a large dressing room in its place, complete with 1940s-style botanical wallpaper, closets on three walls, mirrors affixed to the closet doors and a rug that complements the wallpaper.
They also took out a walk-in closet to create a master bathroom worth lingering in. During the day, sunlight floods the room through swag curtains embellished with glass beads and reflects off the marble floors and marble-colored walls. Below a chandelier hanging from the coved ceiling is a custom-made marble medallion. Heated floors, a walk-in closet, separate vanity area, double sinks, soaking tub and a large walk-in shower with dual heads give the room functionality and charm.
On weekends, the couple starts coffee brewing in the bathroom while they slowly prepare for the day. “We usually lounge in bed while sipping coffee,” says Obeirne. A small refrigerator holds juices for breakfast as well as a bottle of champagne for the occasional evening treat.
On the home’s main floor, the couple made major changes to the kitchen, essentially creating two kitchens in one. One is a cooking center for Obeirne that features a professional-grade cooktop, large farm sink and separate dishwasher. “I try to make something special for my wife every night,” he says. After testing recipes on her and others, he creates a cookbook every year to give to family and friends.
Schraeder loves to bake. Her area of the kitchen features two convection ovens, induction burners for making sauces and a large granite-topped work space for rolling out dough, as well as a stovetop, sink and dishwasher. The kitchen is a popular gathering spot during holidays, with guests congregating at a large island in the center that also provides storage for utensils, spices and pots and pans.
A major wine collector, Obeirne has incorporated wine coolers into rooms all over the house. Three coolers in the basement house wine that is aging. Two other coolers in the house store wine ready for drinking— one in the dining room for serving wine with meals and another on the third floor for serving wine on the rooftop deck.
With six grown children living all over the United States and plenty of friends near and far, the couple knew they needed space to entertain and house visitors. Thus the unfinished basement was converted into a theater, which houses a 70-inch high-definition television, theater- style seating in the center of the floor and two built-in twin beds for grandchildren.
“Our grandchildren are too young to appreciate the theater-style seating, but they fall asleep on them all the time,” Obeirne says. With textured-plastic walls in warm ocher and red tones, the basement resembles an old wine cellar, appropriate considering the three coolers of aging wine nearby.
To make traveling up and down stairs easier for Obeirne’s mother, a small elevator was built onto the side of the house. The elevator is made mostly of wood and glass to allow in as much natural light as possible and to blend in architecturally.
One of the main features that drew Obeirne and Schraeder to the house was the large rooftop deck. To make it more convenient, the couple added a full kitchen outside the third floor, just before the steps leading to the roof. They use that kitchen mostly for making classic cookout fare, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks when hosting guests.
Whether or not they have company over, the couple enjoys sitting on their deck and sipping wine, taking in the scenic views of both Patterson Park and the Baltimore harbor.