An Artistic, Industrial Live/Work Loft in South Baltimore

An Artistic, Industrial Live/Work Loft in South Baltimore

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Liz Calka
Oct 24, 2016

Name: Nicole and Dave and dog Remy
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: Renting 1 year

Inspiring artists with an equally inspiring nest, Nicole and Dave have designed their apartment with true artistic vision. They've built their quietly brilliant, thoughtfully executed home in an old box factory in Baltimore, where it doubles as both a living space and a studio.

Dave, a graphic designer, and Nicole, a painter, fit right in to their dynamic South Baltimore neighborhood. The stark architecture of their loft echoes its industrial surroundings with exposed brick and pipes, soaring ceilings, and massive windows. The two celebrate this aesthetic with their modern, minimal style but also challenge it with moments of whimsy and splashes of color. The explosion of creative energy is most apparent in Nicole's stunning studio space, where the level of chaos allows her to think and experiment.

The apartment is peppered with Nicole's paintings, Dave's designs, and original works by friends and local artists. It also features a number of clever DIY projects, including a floor-to-ceiling accent wall that masks the television while not in use and enables the couple to swap out artwork, a gallery within their own home. (Dave prepped for this project by actually designing 3D digital renderings of the structure, then using Google Cardboard's virtual reality to pitch it to Nicole so she could see it in the space before they decided to build.) Surprise and delight, indeed.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern, minimal and colorful. Nicole is a painter. Dave is a designer. We both appreciate the industrial nature of the apartment complex and city we live in. The decor and composition was all about celebrating the architecture.

Inspiration: Contemporary industrial environments. The accent wall in the living room was inspired by an art show that Nicole took part in at Artists Circle Fine Art in Potomac, Maryland. Their rustic barn gallery was complemented with warm wood floors and large white panes in relief of the post and beam interior that were used to display the art. While it didn't have the sliding barn door feature with hidden shelving, seeing Nicole's painting on the protruding surface left an impression. We also look to our friends, many of whom are makers and artists for inspiration. Surrounding ourselves with their art fuels our own creativity.

Favorite Element: Our corner unit allows for lots of natural light with windows on almost every wall, but limited space to hang art. Dave envisioned an accent wall to mask our internet cables and wires, house a television on a built-in shelf, and allow Nicole's artwork to be the focal point of the living room. The painting hangs on a rolling barn door track, enabling the work to be prominently displayed in the space.

Biggest Challenge: There is an awkwardly placed thermostat and power outlet on the main wall. The space directly to the right of the wall is a recessed corner with a large column and AC vent. The idea to build an accent wall allowed us activate that part of the apartment that would have otherwise gone unused and hide an entertainment console within the wall.

What Friends Say: Friends enjoy the natural light that pours in through the windows, the modern furniture and the vibrant artwork. Getting to see Nicole's artistic process in the second bedroom that she uses as a studio peaks a lot of interest. They love to see us pull back the painting and reveal the hidden television in the living room.



Biggest Embarrassment: The accent wall was supposed to be a weekend project. Let's just say it took more than a few more weekends to finish.

Proudest DIY: A combination of the shelving in the corner and the accent wall. See how they built their accent wallHow To Make a TV-Hiding Sliding Art Accent Wall

The shelves were made from a single plank of red cedar that was cut into multiple pieces. We picked out all of the necessary iron piping to create the joints and Nicole removed the grease and oil. After staining the wood to match our couch, it was easy to install the metal joints with some dry wall plugs.

Biggest Indulgence: Having a studio within the apartment has been a dream.

See more of Nicole's inspiring studio space Forgiveness, Not Permission: Inspiration & Advice for Living Your Best (Creative!) Life

Best Advice: Surprise and delight. We didn't have to work too hard to make the space great but we were able to make it our own with some ingenuity and elbow grease. Everything is meant to compliment the existing architecture. Decorating the apartment really became an exercise in restraint and thoughtful composition like any design challenge.

Dream Sources: We'd love to take a tour visiting all our friends' studios, and artists we admire, with an unlimited budget to grow our art collection.

Thanks, Nicole & Dave!


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