If IKEA chairs, a bookshelf fashioned from cinderblocks, and some threadbare discards from your late Aunt Hilda’s estate are no longer working for you, then you might do well to pick the brain of Baltimore’s interior design community. Whether it’s fabric, accessories, repurposed industrial items, or antiques and art, they know where to find unique items that will make your house a little more of a home—and, no, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
We asked six veteran designers to take us shopping:
Michelle Miller Interiors
2645 Maryland Ave., Studio B
Michelle Miller is best known for her homey modern interiors with mid-century flair. One of her favorite places to prowl for unique pieces is Orions Objects in Woodberry; she’s been an avid customer since the shop was located on the Avenue in Hampden, and describes the finds there as “pre-Mad Men—before mid-century modern really came onto the scene.” The designer, who lives in Baltimore’s Ten Hills neighborhood, says she rarely furnishes an entire room with vintage pieces, but will incorporate something unique to add character. She found an oversized blown-glass table lamp at a store in Pittsburgh and displayed it on her website and her page on the website Houzz. “I got more calls about that piece,” she says. “But it’s one-of-a-kind,” so several would-be collectors were disappointed. Another source for mid-century pieces is Home Anthology, a 5,000-square-foot store in Catonsville that carries authentic mid-century items ranging from Eames fiberglass chairs to lamps by Osten Kristiansson and Danish modern dining room sets. Miller also likes to prowl Housewerks, a salvage outlet on Bayard Street in South Baltimore. She recently picked up a pile of “greasy old industrial gear parts,” cleaned and polished them, and has plans to suspend them from the ceiling in her great room. Her own house, she says, “is a little more traditional than what I do for clients.” But that doesn’t keep her from introducing quirky touches. “Not everyone is up for hanging gears from the ceiling.”
1750 Union Ave., 410-585-9750
91 Mellor Ave., Catonsville
1415 Bayard St., 410-685-8047
April Force Pardoe
April Force Pardoe doesn’t mind taking her clients shopping. She recently worked on a Catonsville family room where, at the start of the job, the only piece of furniture was a large red entertainment stand. She and the clients went on a shopping spree to Shofer’s Furniture store in Federal Hill, where they purchased a “gorgeous” leather sofa along with some occasional chairs to complete the inviting space.
Pardoe also loves to prowl unusual places on her own, especially when her clients are looking for vintage or shabby chic, or appreciate old items put to new uses.
For example, she picked up a beat-up old china cabinet at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for clients in Owings Mills. The solid wood piece, in two sections, cost $185. Pardoe then paid an artist $1,200 to repair and paint it in a decorative blue finish. “The piece is amazing quality, and it looks stunning in their dining room,” Pardoe says.
Then there’s The Barn Show in Gambrills, a gathering of antique and vintage dealers that takes place three times a year, offering furniture and accessories like pillows, mirrors, and tabletop items. Another of Pardoe’s favorites is The Vintage Marketplace at Glenwood. Open just one weekend a month, it’s packed with vintage and refurbished furniture, artwork, and a range of accessories. Pardoe recently bought several 16-inch wooden wagon wheels at BB Home and spray-painted them a high-gloss green to arrange on a wall in her sister’s home.
930 S. Charles St., 410-752-4212
The Barn Show
3250 Bottner Rd., Gambrills
The Vintage Marketplace at Glenwood
2945 Rte. 97, Glenwood
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
505 Kane St., 410-633-0505;
8909 McGaw Ct., Columbia,
410-290-3700; and other locations.
Brad Weesner Design
3020 St. Paul St., 410-662-6300
Brad Weesner moved to Baltimore from the Washington suburbs and was immediately charmed not only by the variety of places to shop here, but by the quality of what he found.
McLain Wiesand, for one, has become a go-to source, he says. The Mt. Vernon-based guild of artisans and designers, under the direction of David Wiesand (see article, page 182), creates objects from wood, glass, and stone in multiples, and also sells one-of-a-kind pieces in its marketplace. Weesner has his eye on the Hawksmore Lantern, an iron sconce with flourishes reminiscent of the 19th century. “I’m waiting for my next hotel project to order it,” Weesner says.
The designer is best known in Baltimore for the interiors of new buildings at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), including a dormitory on North Avenue. But Weesner’s background is mostly working with homeowners.
He recently completed a penthouse apartment project at the Ritz-Carlton, commissioning Valley Craftsmen to do finishes for wall panels and bookcases. The company, in Clipper Mill, specializes in gilding, chinoiserie, and faux finishes, as well as meticulous murals. “They did distressing that looks like old Swedish wood,” he says, “with a little gold leafing along the cornices.”
Another of his favorites is Niermann Weeks, which makes luxe light fixtures and furniture. It’s based in Millersville, but has showrooms in New York. Joe Niermann began his career making chandeliers, but has set a standard for finishes, says Weesner.
Finally, Weesner loves to frequent art galleries, and one of his favorites is Troika in Easton, which represents Kevin Fitzgerald, a MICA graduate whom the designer describes as his “favorite painter in the whole world.” Weesner often finishes a room—like a living room in neutral tones with a glittering crystal chandelier—with a calming Fitzgerald land or seascape painting.
1013 Cathedral St., 410-539-4440
3535 Clipper Mill Rd., 410-366-7077
760 Generals Hwy., Millersville
9 S. Harrison St., Easton
Jenkins Baer Associates
24 W. Chase St., 410-727-4100
Jay Jenkins shops at design markets in New York, Atlanta, and High Point, NC, at least five times a year, helping his firm, Jenkins Baer Associates, maintain a large inventory. “We have everything from napkin rings to upholstered furniture,” he says. “So when we’re done with a project—there’s no more shopping—we’re done.” Even so, one of Jenkins’s favorite aspects of design is helping clients choose art. “Don’t buy art because it matches your carpet,” he advises. “If it speaks to you, incorporate it into your life.” At the same time, he cautions, “don’t get overexcited. Think about it for a day; otherwise it could turn into an expensive whim.”
For those in the early stages of collecting art, Jenkins recommends going to local gallery openings as well as student and faculty shows at MICA. And there’s the biennial Baltimore Museum of Art print sale, an event Jenkins calls “a gift to Baltimore.” Buying art works on paper, he says, “is the best way to get into collecting on the ground level.” More advanced collectors can find an array of works by artists ranging from Jim Dine and Andy Warhol to Renoir and Picasso through Renaissance Fine Arts in Pikesville. Lately, Jenkins has been working on a Manhattan pied-à-terre for a Baltimore client. The art on the walls is exclusively photographs. “Photography is becoming extremely popular and gaining respect in the marketplace,” he says.
MICA, student and faculty art shows
The Baltimore Museum of Art
Renaissance Fine Arts
1848 Reisterstown Rd., Pikesville
Kimberly A. Eastburn Interiors
Kim Eastburn never met a consignment shop she didn’t like. “The first thing I do when I go to a city is find the really good antiques and resale stores,” Eastburn says. “If I’m in Charleston or Denver or Boston, I’ll make notes that so-and-so had great antique chandeliers, or great art, or rugs.”
One such discovery was Golden & Associates Antiques, a shop in Charleston where she discovered 19th-century French light fixtures. A few months later, a client who owns a grand historic house in Baltimore showed her photos of a chandelier he intended to buy. “They just weren’t right, so I said, ‘Let me show you a better option,’ and called Golden.” Within a couple of hours, the shop had sent photos of chandeliers it had in inventory, and Eastburn’s client purchased three.
Eastburn says she used to buy one-of-a-kind items like rugs, lamps, and tables, knowing that she’d eventually find just the right match with a client. “I ended up with a ridiculous amount of inventory.” Now her approach is a little different: “I laser-point in on what I want and have a little Rolodex in my head, so I know whom to call to get exactly what I want.”
1501 Sulgrave Ave., 410-466-0606
The Kellogg Collection
6241 Falls Rd., 410-296-4378
Golden & Associates Antiques
206 King St., Charleston, SC
Anne Markstein Interiors
19925 Bollinger Rd., Millers
Anne Markstein does most of her shopping from her home office in Millers in northeast Carroll County. She cruises the websites of favorite vendors searching for the right mix of fabrics, furniture, and finishes to create peaceful interiors that don’t look overly decorated or perfectly matched. But she doesn’t consider it shopping online. “These are businesses I know well,” she says. “I’ve been working with them for years, so I know exactly what I’m getting.”
She tries to minimize surprises, but occasionally things don’t go according to plan. For example, she once ordered a glass-topped coffee table with a silver-leaf base for a client. The metal base’s finish started to wear off within a few months. After several months of correspondence—in which the furniture vendor accused the client of mistreating the table—Markstein was able to recoup a small amount to have the table refinished. But to do it right cost much more. “It was a win for everyone but me,” she says. “I had to eat the cost.” Needless to say, she hasn’t dealt with that company again, and the experience reinforced her resolve to only buy from vendors she knows well.
Some of Markstein’s favorite vendors are Arteriors Home for lamps, Design Materials for jute and sisal floor coverings, and Surya and Jaipur for colorful woven rugs. Markstein also browses the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore each February. “The quality is beautiful, and it’s all handmade,” she says.
She also shops at the Maryland Design Center in Owings Mills. The center, started by Peyton Home, a local company that manufactures furniture in Indonesia, represents several lines of fabric and furniture and is generally only open to the trade—though designers can bring clients by appointment.
American Craft Council show
Baltimore Convention Center,
Feb. 21-23, 2014; craftcouncil.org
The Maryland Design Center
11409 Cronhill Dr., Ste. G
Owings Mills, 410-998-9424