Brandon Hamschin grew up next door to a dairy farm in rural western Pennsylvania. So when this 31-year old engineer headed south to work in an applied physics lab in Laurel, Md., he knew a complete change was due and willingly opted for city-life.
"I was fairly homeless before I moved here," he recalled. The applied physics lab put me up."
His search for houses online paid off when he found a small, two-story row house with basement and rooftop deck on a quiet street in the east Baltimore neighborhood of Canton. He put in an offer immediately after touring the home that had been purchased by the construction company, Building Character by MK Enterprises, LLC. Run by brothers Mike and Matt Knoepfle, the construction company gutted and then completely renovated the property, as they continue to do in dilapidated houses throughout the city.
Brandon Hamschin paid $307,000 for the approximately 1,350-square-foot brick house. He closed on November 16, 2011, with a one-year warranty.
"I could tell Matt knew his stuff and what I was getting from him would be good," Hamschin said. "I got a tax credit as a result of the materials they used [and] these credits made my mortgage possible."
A perfect first home and bachelor pad, the interior is 10 feet wide by 45 feet long on the first floor and features details like 4-inch ceiling molding, gleaming cherry wood floors and an entire north wall of brick. The chunky, craftsman-like oak staircase to the second level adds a solid, rustic yet rich appeal to furniture and décor that includes a brown leather traditional sofa and chair, a coffee table, TV cabinet and a few floor lamps.
"I like rustic," said Hamschin. "My dining room table was made from reclaimed telephone poles! This month, after saving for a year, I bought some furniture for my living room and kitchen. It's nothing extravagant, but a few well-thought-out pieces made the main living area homier."
Cherry wood kitchen cabinets with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances compliment the neutral look of the first floor. A half bath is at the rear of the home, where a door opens out to a parking pad.
The home's second floor features one bedroom, one full bathroom and an office. The Knoepfles' handiwork includes elaborate window trim and door transoms that supply additional light to the second floor hallway. A partially enclosed stairwell leads to the spacious rooftop deck that affords a panoramic view of the city skyline, the Canton waterfront and hundreds of neighborhood roofs and church spires.
"I'm amazed at how much I love this city!" Hamschin said.
He says he has no intention of moving anytime in the near future. The house could easily accommodate his girlfriend, should the decision to cohabitate arise.
In the meantime, it is a good life in a city that more than suits this former rural dweller.
"I've been truly blessed throughout my life, but I have also worked very hard," he said matter-of-factly. "I know there are a million homes in Baltimore that are nicer than mine but that doesn't matter. I believe dreams are defined by the dreamer and mine is feeling like all that hard work paid off; this time in the form of a home."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times