A 19th c. Baltimore City Italianate townhouse is the perfect backdrop for collaboration on a custom men’s clothing boutique. Named Different Regard, and headed by a team of entrepreneurs, their vision was to display classically inspired avant-garde clothing in a period architectural setting. The brief specifies enhancement rather than extensive renovation/restoration because the owners are leasing the space. Previously used as an insurance/law firm, where the focus was in other directions, the bones of this classical architecture remained hidden.
Upon touring the space, I was impressed with its double marble Victorian-style fireplaces, architectural millwork, and soaring ceiling height. In its previous life, the walls were painted a dull grey, and the industrial original hardwood flooring covered by thin industrial broadloom carpet. Rectangular pendant luminaires and wall sconces illuminated the space. The owners liked the existing ceiling fans, but I convinced them to remove them.
Design a modern feel within a period architectural setting for retail use:
- Retail display on both long walls and one short wall
- Central counter location
- Ebonized hardwood flooring
- Two fitting rooms
- Storage space
- Full-length tri-fold dressing mirror and fitting stage
- Large video monitor
- An elegant space in which to receive and fit clients for custom-made clothing
- Remove oversized ceiling fans
- Remove all existing industrial wall sconces and seal all but four junction boxes
- Repair water damage to non-original bay window on the front facade
- Repair damaged and missing elements to decorative plaster corbels that divide the double parlors
- Remove old carpet tiles, inspect, repair, and stain existing hardwood flooring
- Remove big box door hardware and replace it with period-correct hardware
- Install new surface-mounted luminaires
- Replace all single-pole wall-mounted switches with push-button styles
- Install custom signage
- Construct a new partition wall behind the main retail area to create two new dressing rooms
The first step was to layout the space considering circulation, retail display, and creating fitting rooms where there had been none. After reaching an agreement on the concept, the owners hired a team to begin work. My first recommendation was to paint over the gold paint finish on the elaborate mirrors that sit over the fireplace (It’s either genuine gold leaf or it isn’t). I recommended painting the walls, ceiling, and millwork in white, which creates an elegant backdrop for the clothing and furnishings. Surface finishes are eggshell for walls and ceiling, and semi-gloss for all millwork. Obviously, with such beautiful details present in this space, they will command attention, but in a subtle way.
The original flooring is hardwood. However, after pulling away from the carpet, the neglect and damage revealed the need for not only refinishing but extensive repair in some places. The idea was not to create a blemish-free surface because, in a space that is more than 100 years old, some imperfections maintain character. The original French doors on the east end of the room were cleaned, re-stained, and updated with antique brass hardware more appropriate to the architecture.
New fitting rooms were created by enclosing a space between the bathroom and the main retail area. The marble was scrubbed and fireboxes cleaned to bring back the glow of the most prominent features of the space. Grey tweed fabric hangs from mahogany rods to function as doors on the two new fitting rooms. The counter was formed with a marble slab and repeated on low tables that separate two pairs of lounge chairs. The logo is fastened to the wall behind the counter in elegant black.
LED pendants that cast their light beams down and up illuminated the decorative ceiling, two large brass surface-mounted pendants with bubble-type globes, and four glass wall sconces that nod to the historic gas flame luminaires often seen in these spaces. In addition, I found four wall sconces with round globes that complement the On the fireplace mantels, dual custom-designed steel, and wood displays, produced by Rhonald Angelo Interiors, hold magnetized lapel buttons, one of the signature looks for Different Regard.
While the work progresses, the owners secured several new retail fixtures, two of which have elegant curved contours and glass shelves, and additional mannequins. The project is still ongoing (updated lighting and retail fixtures to come), however in the interim, the space functions beautifully for its intended purpose.
Furnishings and Accessories:
Black Leather Lounge Chairs: IKEA; Marble-Topped tables: Owners Collection; Ceiling fixtures: Flos – Wall Sconces: B Halo; French Door Hardware, Fireplace Andirons: Housewerks; Pushbutton Wall Switches: Rejuvenation Hardware; Fitting Room Draperies: Kravet
Photography Renderings © Rhonald Angelo Interiors Rendering Team