A pair of prints by Chicago artist Josh Young flanks the entry to designer Jay Jenkins’ apartment. Atop these photographs of staid, 19th-century portraits, slashes of thick yellow paint obscure the subjects’ eyes.
“They’re traditional works that have a modern edge,” notes Jenkins—an observation that applies to his apartment as a whole. Antiques and classic pieces abound, but thanks to bold, contemporary art and a restrained palette, the interiors are fresh, engaging and anything but fussy.
Jenkins and his husband T.J. Hindman, who also share a four-bedroom weekend home in Easton, bought the apartment in Baltimore’s Guilford neighborhood in 2015. Given the option of an 11th-floor unit with sweeping city views or a fifth-floor residence overlooking the 1932 Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, they instantly chose the latter. No doubt, the historic landmark flaunting a columned portico and Corinthian capitals informed Jenkins’ design direction.
His first move was to relinquish the prior resident’s turquoise-and-pink color scheme for something a bit more subdued and instill better flow and order in the dated, convoluted floor plan. Jenkins’ redo created a sense of arrival via a new entry hall and carved out a functional, eat-in kitchen in lieu of its awkward predecessor. A den off the foyer serves as a media room and an office for Hindman, who works in business development. On the far side of the main living space, the master suite encompasses a spacious dressing room and a well-appointed bath.
The couple typically spends four nights a week in Baltimore, then heads to Easton, where they love to entertain on a larger scale. (Jenkins describes recent dinner parties for 30-plus guests in their shore house, where he maintains 15 sets of china.) In contrast, the city apartment was conceived as a comfortable perch for two. Says Jenkins, “We wanted a cute, sexy little pied-à-terre.”
A Rockville native, he earned his stripes at the Maryland Institute College of Art when it still had an interior design program. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says the designer, now principal of Jenkins Baer, a busy, 23-person Baltimore firm. In his practice, he explains, “I don’t do full-blown traditional or full-blown modern work. It has to be warm and clean at the same time.”
His apartment reflects this balance. “Clearly, I’m a fan of classicism—I try to do things that are a modern, edited interpretation of that,” he observes. “The shapes of everything I own tend to be classic in the traditional sense, but it’s about how you upholster them. Mixing heralded shapes with modern, simpler textures helps create that edited feel.”
The main living area is a study in this philosophy. Jenkins has artfully combined antiques, custom pieces and recent finds with bold, contemporary art. With a neutral, pared-down backdrop of white walls, stained- and cerused-oak floors and a sisal rug, the space feels open and airy. Banks of recessed bookshelves not only save space but also create graphic relief—as does an installation of 60 limited-edition silkscreens from Josef Albers’ seminal 1964 “Interaction of Color” series. “Each one sort of tells its own story,” says the designer, “and when you play with scale like that, you’re visually expanding the space.”
Jenkins and Hindman base their art acquisitions not on pedigree or provenance but on what resonates with them. “Art is very important to us,” Jenkins reveals. “I’m looking for something that sparks a conversation. There’s always got to be some amount of tension in it—and integrity.”
Case in point is a pair of prints Hindman unearthed at Goodwill that now hangs above the couple’s bed. “We put $1,000 frames on them and they turned out to be really pretty,” quips Jenkins. A large abstract painting given to him by his aunt inspired the bedroom’s soothing khaki wall color, brightened by two turquoise night chests. These in turn inspired the designer to finish the white ceiling in textured blue wallpaper by Holland & Sherry. “It brought the ceiling down a little bit and at the same time sort of uplifted it,” he observes. “One of the things I was taught in school: Why is the default to have a white ceiling?”
Furnishings in the den pay homage to Hindman’s penchant for Mid-Century Modern design. In fact, he is so passionate about the period that he opened an Easton antiques store, The Modern Bulldog, focused on the genre; Hindman and the couple’s French bulldog, Beatrice, can be found there most weekends, tending shop. While Jenkins appreciates mid-century style, “it doesn’t reach the tenor I want when you have a building like that right out the window,” he notes, pointing to the Scottish temple.
No detail escapes Jenkins in his quest to combine classic and edgy elements in his home. A Tech Lighting monorail system perfectly illuminates the living room while its black-painted bronze hardware creates an architectural grid on the ceiling. Doors and window frames are painted deep espresso for crisp contrast. And gilded accents throughout add a measure of glam. “I think I have a little gypsy in me: I still like gilded finishes,” Jenkins admits. “When you put those things in an environment that’s somewhat edited, it allows everything to sing.”
This environment dovetails delightfully with the classic Beaux Arts masterpiece just outside Jenkins’ bedroom window. “I’ll lie in bed reading and get up to look at that building, which they light up every night,” he marvels. “All the columns are lit and it’s a little bit magical.”
Interior Design: Jay Jenkins, Jenkins Baer Associates, Baltimore, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Ulman Home Creations, Parkville, Maryland. Home Automation: Starr Systems Design, Baltimore, Maryland. Styling: Charlotte Safavi.
FORMAL DINING AREA
Table: henredon.com. Chairs: alfonsomarina.com. Sofa: hickorychair.com. Sofa Fabric: mrandmrshoward.sherrillfurniture.com. Sofa Trim: samuelandsons.com. Floor Lamps: jones-lighting.com.
Antique Leather Chair: Owners’ collection. “Bullseye” Art: Ruth Adler through artstar.com.
MAIN LIVING SPACE
Ceiling Lighting System: jones-lighting.com. Gilded Chairs: alfonsomarina.com. Coffee Table: mclainwiesand.com. White Skirted Chair: mrandmrshoward.sherrillfurniture.com. Skirted Chair Fabric: fschumacher.com. Skirted Chair Trim: osborneandlittle.com. Sofa & Sofa Fabric: mrandmrshoward.sherrillfurniture.com. Printed Chair: dennisandleen.com. Rug: floors-etc.com. Pillow Fabric: fortuny.com through pillowsalon.com. Round Side Table with Black Top: Through jenkinsbaer.com. Table Near Bedroom: bunnywilliamshome.com. Table Lamps: jones-lighting.com. Paint Color: Simply White through benjaminmoore.com.
Custom Cabinetry: Tillette’s Cabinets Plus, Inc.; 410-252-0909. Countertops: caesarstone.us through jeffresstone.com. Backsplash & Source: annsacks.com. Stove, Hood & Cooktoop: subzero-wolf.com through Appliance Source: jarvisappliance.org. Hardware: topknobs.com. Sisal Rug: floors-etc.com.
Bed & Chair: hickorychair.com. Bedding & Drapery Fabric: estout.com. Side Chests: lillianaugust.com. Table Lamps: jones-lighting.com. Paint Color: Burlap through qa.ralphlaurenhome.com. Ceiling Wallpaper: hollandandsherry.com. Custom Bedding: through Penny Green Custom Linen; 410-484-0996. Pillows: pillowsalon.com. Mirrors: jenkinsbaer.com. Drapery Trim: Mokum through jamesdunloptextiles.com. Drapery Fabrication: draperycontractors.com.
DRESSING ROOM & BATH
Custom Cabinetry: Tillette’s Cabinets Plus, Inc.; 410-252-0909. Rug: floors-etc.com. Vanity Chest: mrandmrshoward.sherrillfurniture.com. Vanity Countertop: rocktopsfabrication.com. Sconces: jones-lighting.com. Paint Color: Burlap through qa.ralphlaurenhome.com. Rug: floors-etc.com.