Auni's Cottage in the City

Auni's Cottage in the City

Virginia Jarvis
Nov 5, 2010

Name: Auni, Tim and Hillary
Location: Hampden — Baltimore, Maryland
Size: 780 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months — rented

Last spring, Auni, Tim and Hillary discovered a truly unique home at the end of a gravel road so small and hidden that it easily could have been overlooked (if not mistaken for the entrance to a country farm). Their 19th century stone mill house sits alongside a dozen or so similar houses that ooze warmth and coziness — and did I mention it's right in the middle of Baltimore City?

Despite living less than a mile from Auni, Tim and Hillary, my first attempt to find their street was rough. I passed the entrance several times, but eventually stumbled upon a most darling house! A hand-painted address sign hung below the front window, which against the rough stone and bright red trim, seemed as though it'd always been there. It was so easy to see why Auni, Tim and Hillary were drawn to this one of a kind rental. They were within walking distance to neighborhood shops and restaurants, yet when they stepped through their almost 2' thick stone doorway, they could feel transported to a country home hundreds of miles away.

In the short time they've lived there, Auni, Tim and Hillary have managed to enhance the inherent warmth of their house with the simplicity and sincerity of their style. The recent graduates are on a tight budget, but have used quality art and accessories to balance their cozy collection of hand me downs and thrift store furniture.

This home really is a great example of how far attention to detail can go when on a budget. A small investment in a piece of local art or a great vintage dish towel can really carry a room … a little creativity never hurt either! Auni, Tim and Hillary played with fabric and lighting to create a whimsical backyard, and carried punches of color into their home in a way that was both thoughtful and fun. The three created a real retreat in the city, and I hope you enjoy exploring it as much as I did!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Cozy, comfortable, thrifted, handmade

Inspiration: History and geography, traveling, our beloved city of Baltimore, families and friends, "hygge" (the Danish concept of coziness which we came to love while studying abroad in cold, dark Denmark)

Favorite Element: The old, thick stone walls (built in 1840!), our two fireplaces, and the tall bathroom skylight

Biggest Challenge: Lack of storage space. We don't have a basement and the attic is nailed shut, so all of our stuff is squeezed into the back room and a tiny closet. (On the plus side, it means we really can't accumulate much junk).

What Friends Say: This feels like a cabin in the woods — are we really in Baltimore city?

Biggest Embarrassment: Mice in the kitchen. Gross.

Proudest DIY: The giant map of Baltimore neighborhoods that I hand-colored one summer (Tim bought the map in black&white from the city planning office)

Biggest Indulgence: We're saving up to buy a dryer this winter — we're also going to invest in a chimney sweep to make sure our fireplaces are OK to use.

Best Advice: If you're using Craigslist (how we found the house and some of our furniture), act fast — but use caution, of course. Tim and I visited the house and signed the lease the day it was posted because we felt so sure it was right.

Dream Sources: I wish I could buy everything in the wonderful local home store Red Tree, as well as some classic pieces of Danish design such as the Arne Jacobsen egg chair, PH artichoke lamp, or Hans Wegner chair.

Resources of Note:


    We didn't do any painting — our landlord has great taste!


    • Audubon print: Tim's grandmother
    • Baltimore map: City planning office (Auni hand-colored)
    • Other prints (wooden frames): Tim's family


    • Chairs: all were given to us by friends
    • Furniture (cabinets): IKEA
    • Flower prints: Auni's grandparents
    • Flags: CRW Flag Warehouse, Glen Burnie, Maryland


    • Table: Hillary's family
    • Print: Holiday sale at MICA (local art school)
    • Poster: Baltimore Urban Forest Project
    • Utensils, cookware, dishes: IKEA


    • Typewriter: eBay
    • Jewelry case: The Container Store
    • Suitcase: Estate sale
    • Posters: Original shows, etsy, friends: cat and girl comic is, the weakerthans, dismemberment plan, and appleseed cast silkscreen posters all came from the original shows, black and white "next person to call me sweetie" linocut by Tamara Waite-Santibanez, Built to Spill silkscreen by Cricket Press,  Fugazi poster (from friend), all frames from Michaels]
    • Bedding: IKEA, Ralph Lauren


    • Organizers: IKEA, Target
    • Vintage state map: WPA Guide to Maryland (1941)
    • Bedding: Target
    • Dressers: IKEA
    • Desk: Left behind by an old roommate; chair: IKEA


    • Shower curtain: Target


    • Entry mat: handmade by Auni's mother
    • Metro shelving: Costco


    • Address sign: Auni painted using an old dresser drawer
    • White patio set: Provided by landlord + IKEA textiles
    • Brown patio set: IKEA
    • White covering: IKEA textiles
    • Mirror: Old medicine cabinet found in the woods leading to the house

Images: Virginia Jarvis

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