Five years after leaving a career in New York to start her own design firm (and a family) in Baltimore, Laura Hodges got a call from a former Wall Street executive who was also Charm City-bound for family and business reasons. The woman wanted to meet Hodges to discuss the renovation of a penthouse condo she’d bought near the city’s Homewood neighborhood. The 11th-floor aerie with a terrace-balcony overlooking Johns Hopkins University’s undergraduate campus would serve as a home during the client’s frequent visits to attend meetings and host fundraising events. It was also spacious enough to accommodate her Maryland-based parents as well as her husband and sons during breaks from the family’s primary home out West.
After a six-month search, the owner, a Maryland native, found Hodges thanks to an astute lead from a colleague. Her prerequisites were exacting. “She had to be easy to work with, get into the details and represent me well,” the homeowner relates. “I wanted someone who could accomplish the job independently—preferably a woman.” Hodges’ former stints in New York understudying two noteworthy masters of design—modernist Jamie Drake and traditionalist Thomas Jayne—were pluses that suggested this young designer would bring cutting-edge ideas to the table. “My clients value these strains in my work,” reflects Hodges, who also earned business and interior design degrees in New York. “I can find what’s right for them and explain why in the process.”
At their first meeting, Hodges toured the condo, which was then a mostly gutted, 4,800-square-foot concrete shell in a 1990s-era building. “So little was left of the former residence; it was raw,” she recalls. “But there was opportunity in the vacancy for ‘intention’—a design consistency I value that relates everything from larger architectural concerns to the smallest personal details.”
Hodges began the transformation with her client’s desires and lifestyle in mind. Robert Moreland of Lundberg Builders executed renderings for a basic architectural layout. He integrated benches into the entry hall’s load-bearing columns to provide seating with views through the living room to the terrace beyond. Tasked with modernizing and opening what had been a warren of rooms, Lundberg Builders replaced the terrace’s sliding glass doors with five-panel stacking ones to maximize the condo’s capacity for entertaining. Meanwhile, lighting designer Maureen Moran of MCLA simulated a natural wash of light using LED technology, which Hodges subsequently married with stylish fixtures. “The key idea for me was how my client wanted this home to feel,” notes Hodges. “How could I move the design toward calm, elegant and personal and also serve her philanthropic fundraisers?” In recognizing two distinct areas within the U-shaped condo—the front for public entertaining and sides for private family comfort—the designer concentrated on developing elements of style to tie the two together.
Custom molding of Hodges’ design, which she describes as “modern with a reveal,” now runs throughout the condo at ceiling level and on doors, windows and built-ins. To unify the interiors, Hodges devised a color scheme of grays and blues that evolved from her client’s love of the Chesapeake Bay. “The atmospheric colors also serve as a continuation of the Baltimore skyline,” she explains. In the family room, misty grays complement a floor-to-ceiling mural adorning the adjacent breakfast nook that depicts ships under sail in the bay, inspired by her client’s vintage prints by the late Baltimore photographer Aubrey Bodine.
In varying intensities, blues accent every room like stones skipping across placid grays. The hue crescendos in the cocooning, blue-sueded walls of the study. This palette resonated with the homeowner. “The climate and colors of my childhood on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are conjured here,” she observes.
Finding appropriate furnishings for a peripatetic client required some initial spontaneous meetings around town. The main project presentation took place in a Baltimore Starbucks over cups of Japanese green tea. “Initially, she gave me plenty of tear sheets for inspiration,” says Hodges, “but Pinterest proved a more immediate way of communicating ideas and images. It also let us include the builder and the client’s husband in the process. The feedback was time-efficient.” Hodges’ 11-month transformation was a feat of organization that ultimately wrapped family and business needs into a seamless whole. And her clients’ reaction could not have been more rewarding: The family engaged her to re-do their home out West.
Renovation Design & Contracting: Robert Moreland, Lundberg Builders, Stevensville, Maryland. Interior Design: Laura Hodges, Laura Hodges Studio, Catonsville, Maryland. Kitchen & Bath Design: 314 Design Studio, Stevensville, Maryland. Lighting Design: Maureen Moran, MCLA Architectural Lighting Design, Washington, DC. Styling: Mike Grady.
Sectional sofa & Fabric, Tufted Chairs & Fabric, Drum Tables: thayercoggin.com. Game Table: Keno Brothers through theodorealexander.com. Side Chairs by Game Table: centuryfurniture.com. Side Chair Fabric: robertallendesign.com. Pillow Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Bench Fabric: aerin.com through leejofa.com. Side Table & Sofa Table: swaiminc.com. Vintage Arm Chairs: 1stdibs.com. Chandelier: bocci.ca. Artwork above hearth: Jiro Takamatsu, Mia Stone through merrittgallery.com. Wallpaper: winfieldthybony.com.
Dining Table: bakerfurniture.com. Dining Chairs: centuryfurniture.com. Chair Fabric: robertallendesign.com. Bar Cart: margecarson.com. Chandelier: axolightusa.com. Rug: webstercarpetandrugs.com. Wallpaper: winfieldthybony.com.
Cabinetry: platowoodwork.com. Bar Stools: vanguardfurniture.com. Refrigerator & Range: subzero-wolf.com. Dishwashers: askona.com. Countertop & Backsplash: silestoneusa.com. Paint Color: Wickham Gray by benjaminmoore.com. Pendants: visualcomfortlightinglights.com.
Sectional Sofa & Sofa Fabric: leeindustries.com. Pillow Fabric: kravet.com, designersguild.com, jffabrics.com. Coffee Table: centuryfurniture.com. Rug: floors-etc.com. Paint Color: Wickham Gray by benjaminmoore.com.
Dining Table: hickorychair.com. Dining Chairs: henredon.com. Chair Fabric: sunbrella.com. Lantern over Dining Table: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Mural: monktonstudios.com. Rug: floors-etc.com.
Wallpaper: phillipjeffries.com. Built-In Bed Design: laurahodgesstudio.com. Bed Fabrication: lundbergbuilders.com. Desk: arteriors.com. Bedside Table: centuryfurniture.com. Table & Desk Lamps: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Paint Color on Bookcase: Buxton Blue by benjaminmoore.com.
Bed, Nightstand, Arm Chairs, Ottoman, Arm Chair Fabric & Leather Bench: centuryfurniture.com. Side Table between Arm Chairs: hickorywhite.com. Built-In Book Shelf Design: laurahodgesstudio.com. Shelf Fabrication: lundbergbuilders.com. Rug: floors-etc.com. Grass Cloth Wallpaper & Hand-painted Grass Cloth Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Custom-Embroidered French Bed Linens: phinas.com. Pillow Fabric: kravet.com. Sconces: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Paint Color on Bookcase: New Providence Navy by benjaminmoore.com.
Arm Chairs: centuryfurniture.com. Bistro Table & Bar Stools: elitemodern.com. Desk: & Built-In Bookcase Design: laurahodgesstudio.com. Desk & Shelf Fabrication: lundbergbuilders.com. Paint Color on Bookcase & Trim: Hale Navy by benjaminmoore.com. Artwork: Alina Maksimenko through merrittgallery.com. Wallpaper: winfieldthybony.com. Rug: floors-etc.com.