There's a panoramic view of Manhattan's iconic Flatiron Building above the bed in the master bedroom of Jill and Eric Bloodsworth's Canton home. The black-and-white photograph, shot from above Madison Square Park, shows several blocks of the city in all its dense, chaotic splendor. n "We call that our 'We-live-here-because-we-don't-live-there' photo," says Jill, who created the 4,200-square-foot dwelling (plus a separate 1,000-square-foot carriage-house garage and apartment) from a commercial bakery.
Indeed, it's hard to imagine a space like this existing in Manhattan, where only the über-wealthy get to live in actual discrete houses. It's got a loft-like feel reminiscent of Tribeca industrial buildings converted into living space in the 1980s and '90s, homes currently selling for several million dollars. There's also a West-Coast vibe, with pure white walls, pale maple floors, and modern furniture and fixtures throughout.
The truth is, if Jill and her husband, Eric, put the same money into a Manhattan home, they'd be looking at a nice one-bedroom apartment, maybe a two-bedroom fixer-upper.
Instead, the ultra-sophisticated home is here in Baltimore, the land of the Formstone facade, where it has garnered national notice. Metropolitan Home featured the Bloodsworth master bath as part of its "Met Home of the Year" competition, announced in April. "With an intensive renovation and relentless passion for modern design," the editors wrote, "it's the most striking bathroom we encountered."
The bathroom is separated from the master bedroom by a partial wall with a double-sided gas fireplace imbedded in it, visible from the bed or the bathtub. The oversized whirlpool tub is designed like an infinity edge pool, with water flowing over a lip around the sides. It's surrounded by a concrete cap that complements the limestone floor. There's a teak-lined shower that fills with steam, which Jill likes to spike with eucalyptus oil for a spa effect. And the dark-maple vanity has a custom-made backsplash of glass tiles the size of your index finger.
The Bloodsworth house, though only 14-16 feet wide, has a feeling of almost unlimited open space—most likely because it's 140 feet long and there are more than 100 windows or glass openings. In the living room, the ceiling soars 20 feet above a bank of glass that looks out onto a cedar courtyard.
There's also the matter of the family's anti-clutter aesthetic. Even 4-year-old Elle likes to keep her stuffed animals in her bedroom to a minimum, and the rest of her toys are confined to a playroom at the front of the house. There's an urban version of the mudroom off the entry hall, a walk-in "shoe and coat closet" with cubbies for individual shoes, and hooks and hangers for outerwear and athletic equipment.
In the kitchen, cereal and peanut butter are hidden within a wall of cabinets so sleek they're nearly invisible, the maple veneer carefully chosen to show minimal variety in the wood grain.
Throughout the house, inner walls where original brick remains are painted white. When a wall departs from white, it is usually for a shade of brown: dark chocolate in the downstairs bath, warm mocha in Elle's room (don't worry, she's not deprived of bright, childlike color—she has sheer fuchsia curtains), a dark reddish clay in the third-floor guest bath.
There's nothing messy in view, and Jill assures us that it's always this way: She replaces the daisies once a week; her daughter plays with only one toy at a time in the adult rooms, then puts it away when she is finished. (She has a playroom where she can get messy.)
Bloodsworth, who has a real-estate license, has renovated three Baltimore City houses, each a bit more elaborate than the last. "It was my goal to invest in a house and fix it up and move every two years," says Jill, who also manages some of the rentals the couple owns as investment properties. (Eric works for the Japanese telecommunications company NTT, commuting two days a week to its office in northern Virgina.)
"Three houses ago, we were going for this look," says Jill, gesturing to the staircase with its steel rails and simple maple treads, its three George Nelson bubble lamps suspended above, and the floating ceiling panel concealing track lights around the edges. But it wasn't until after a meal at the Red Maple restaurant downtown that they pulled it all together.
"Once we saw that place, we said, 'That's the look we want,'" says Jill. They contacted Red Maple architect and designer Chris Harvey (see "The Crossover Kids, page 134), who agreed to help them.
For this house, Harvey and fellow designer Nick Mansberger helped with not only the architectural work, configuring the spaces for rooms, closets, and stairwells, but also the lighting plan. Jill and Eric handled the interior.
It's clear that Jill's own sensibilities drive the vision. Jill also took on the role of general contractor and interior designer for the house, a job she didn't love, but one that taught her a lot.
"Now people are always calling me to ask for advice and ideas," she says. "My husband finally told me I should start charging money." So armed with her years of experience, Bloodsworth launched a design-consulting firm called Loft Design Studio to help other city dwellers.
Jill's aesthetic is apparent even on the roof deck. The cedar chaise lounges with white terry covers, powder-coated aluminum bar, and rubber flooring that resembles concrete all make a great vantage point for watching the universe go by. The view is west to Patterson Park and the city skyline beyond, and south to Fort McHenry and the harbor.
Despite all the Manhattan chic, there's no question that we're in Baltimore.