Designer Jay Jenkins layers traditional style with a fresh sensibility throughout a Baltimore County estate
When Jay Jenkins of Jenkins Baer Associates gets involved in a project, it inevitably grows branches and blooms. Such was the case when he was contacted in 2017 by the longtime owners of a Baltimore County estate.
“They originally reached out to me to remodel the kitchen; of course, this evolved into gutting the space,” Jenkins recalls. Before long, the existing floor plan had changed, with the new kitchen replacing the family room, and a new family room absorbing what had been a media room. “We went on to do an extensive addition, encompassing a home theater in the basement and a master suite above it,” says the designer, who ultimately ended up redecorating the entire house.
The 14,695-square-foot, French manor-style abode was originally designed for the family in 1993 by Jay Brown of Levin/Brown Architects. It presents symmetrically at the end of an allée of trees, opening onto a wide, bricked motor court. Its 11 landscaped acres overlook rolling fields.
Over the years, Brown spearheaded two renovations to the home as the family has grown (the couple now has four kids) and their needs have changed. The first addition resulted in more living space and created an outdoor area for summer entertaining. The most recent addition was a collaboration with Jenkins, who drew up plans that Brown refined and executed. “The challenge was to make the additions seamless, as if the resulting home had always been there,” says Brown. “The original house featured ivory brick and stucco, but by the time of the second addition, that brick was no longer available, so we custom-stained it to match.”
The foyer is central in the traditional floor plan, with rooms unfolding in flanking wings. The left wing contains the dining room and butler’s pantry while the right houses music and family rooms and the master suite. The kitchen is at the rear, facing the pool and gardens.
The entry sets a formal tone for the home, with such classic architectural elements as a sweeping, curved staircase and a two-story glass front door and window transom. However, Jenkins layered in elegant, transitional touches that truly reflect the sophisticated homeowners. “We added limestone floors laid diagonally with black-marble cabochons, a brass stair railing and an overscaled damask wall covering,” he recounts.
Equally striking is the armless, curved-back sofa that fits snugly along the staircase wall. A pen-and-ink drawing by Matisse effortlessly shares wall space with a large modern canvas. “It’s about mixing styles,” Jenkins notes. “The home’s neutral palette ties it together, though the neutrals flow into richer tones as you travel deeper into the house. The clients’ favorite color is blue and we used it in everyday areas like the kitchen and breakfast room.”
In the dining room, the table and chairs are among the few existing pieces the clients kept. Jenkins refreshed the chairs with gray-blue Pindler velvet; sitting atop an Oushak rug, the effect is timeless. The Paul Montgomery botanical wallpaper is a recent adornment, as is custom drapery combining trimmed curtain panels and ballooning Roman shades.
Just off the dining room, the butler’s pantry is a new space designed by Jenkins within the former kitchen’s footprint. Here, a black-and-white harlequin-patterned marble floor contrasts with moody, olive-green lacquered cabinets. Overhead, a contemporary fixture douses the room in shards of ambient light.
“The La Cornue range is a centerpiece,” says Jenkins of the blue-and-white kitchen, which feels more Provençal than formal. “We added white cabinets and dark-wood floors for sharp contrast, and there is a comfortable lounging area as well as an adjacent breakfast nook.”
The bold blue of the island travels through to the new family room in the form of a built-in bar bordering the short passageway. In the family room, Jenkins added warmth via a walnut fireplace mantel; a mix of styles and periods adds interest to the furniture, which includes a Venetian-style sofa upholstered in embroidered damask.
“The eclectic furnishings add to this room’s sense of comfort and ease,” Jenkins observes, “while modern artworks throughout strike a contemporary note.” A vestibule to the right of the fireplace leads to a spiral staircase that accesses the lower-level home theater; a vestibule to the left connects the wing containing the master suite.
Jenkins outfitted the master bedroom in traditional furnishings atop a custom carpet from Floors Etc.; opulent window treatments marry panels in a Schumacher botanical textile with Roman shades in plaid fabric by Robert Allen. Jenkins lacquered the barrel-vaulted ceiling to create a sheen that complements the luxe fabrics.
The master bathroom links the bedroom with expansive his-and-her closets featuring loads of customized storage. “We designed the luxurious bathroom to include differing, purposeful spaces,” Jenkins says. “Twin vanities with storage armoires are in one area, with a walk-in glass shower, soaking tub and WC in another.”
The refurbished home perfectly reflects its locale while adding its own fresh personality. “Baltimore County is generally traditional, but this house has a light, elegant feel,” Jenkins observes. “The interiors are deeply connected to its identity as an elegant manor house.”
Renovation Architecture: Jay Ira Brown, AIA, LEED AP, Levin/Brown Architects, Owings Mills, Maryland. Interior Design: Jay Jenkins, Jenkins Baer Associates, Baltimore, Maryland. Contractor: J. Paul Builders LLC, Pikesville, Maryland. Landscape Design: Bob Jackson Landscapes, Inc., Owings Mills, Maryland. Photo Styling: Charlotte Safavi.
Home Automation: gramophone.com. Dining Room Drapery Fabric: kravet.com. Modern Art in Foyer & Master Bedroom: merrittgallery.com. Kitchen Table: centuryfurniture.com. Paint, Kitchen Cabinets, Music Room & Master Bathroom: benjaminmoore.com. For a complete list of resources, see homeanddesign.com.