Some people are romantic matchmakers; Robin Weiman is a condo matchmaker.
In the late 1990s, she was living in a Charles Village apartment. But after one car was stolen from her parking lot and another one was vandalized, she suspected it was time to move on—and her parents were sure of it.
"They were freaked out," says Weiman, who is vice president of Drapery Contractors, her family's fourth-generation custom-window-treatment
business. "I wasn't as upset about it as they were. But if we went out somewhere together, they would follow me home. I started looking for a new place to live."
On the Internet, Weiman found a 1,900 square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in an iconic pre-war Baltimore building—with a security service. An added bonus: In the same building, Weiman also found the perfect apartment for one of her closest friends—designer Jay Jenkins of Jenkins Baer Associates, who was also in the market for a new condominium.
"I called Jay and said, 'I found a great apartment, but I want you to look at it before I sign on the dotted line,'" recounts Weiman. "And then I added, 'There's another fabulous unit that's available for you.' Before I knew it, he settled before me!"
Meanwhile, designer Alexander Baer, another close personal friend, had his interest piqued. "He was jealous, jealous, jealous!" says Weiman, laughing. "The penthouse became available, and the next thing we knew, he moved in, too!"
Thirteen years later, with a little help from her friends (who happen to be some of Baltimore's most in-demand designers), Weiman's apartment is an English country idyll filled with perfectly placed pieces, eye-catching objects, beautiful built-ins, and carefully edited antiques. (Her latest addition is French, though, not English: a French bulldog pup named Madalyn that she acquired in August.)
"This apartment just evolved over time," says Weiman. "Jay knows me very well. He knew I didn't have a huge budget, but because I have the resources to buy the fabric at cost, I was able to make my dollars work for me very well and still accomplish a lot."
Of course, the window treatments throughout the space are magnificent: near museum quality Fortuny balloon curtains in the living room; cream-colored silk taffeta with hand-sewn grosgrain trim for the master bedroom; and hand-printed linen Roman valences in Weiman's charming study.
"Drapes add warmth and character," says Weiman. "People say they don't want anything on their windows—they don't want to cover up the light, but when someone puts curtains in their home even the sound is different—it just adds something."
Through it all, Jenkins has remained an informal—if sometimes very hands-on—design consultant. To wit: When the stunning blue silk-velvet ottoman that Jenkins designed for Weiman's living room arrived, she immediately called upstairs and told him, "You have to come down and see it!
"When he got here, I said, 'Did I put it in the right spot?'" Weiman recalls. "And as he's looking me straight in the eye, he nudges it with his knee by a few centimeters.
Then, thinking I haven't noticed, he says, 'It's perfect.'"