Edited by Janelle Erlichman Diamond

With Christianna McCausland

Handlettering by Lienke Raben | Spot Illustrations by Emily Joynton

Best of Baltimore

Best of Baltimore 2023

Our annual celebration of the best that Charm City has to offer.

Edited by Janelle Erlichman Diamond




This is the kind of place where seasoned designers and new homeowners rub elbows as they lose entire afternoons flipping through three stories of extraordinary Persian rugs. Go for the rugs, but stay for the magic of owner Donna Hoffman, who passionately recalls and recounts every detail of the history and design of her impressive stock. Her Reisterstown warehouse is filled with antique, vintage, and modern “floor art,” as well as one of the largest collections of lion rugs and Persian folklore rugs on the East Coast. Make an appointment to visit this wondrous place—trust us, no matter what you pick, you’ll love it.

⇓ Article continues below ⇓


Home Perspective

Yes, Home Perspective can organize your closets, whip your disorderly garage into shape, and help you pack for your big move. But owner Ashley Ingram Watts really shines when it comes to the sensitive (and often time-intensive) work of estate cleaning. Dealing with a house full of 40 years of clutter? Watts will inventory, pack, and label every fork and Hummel, coordinate donations and appraisals, locate and organize important documents, even work with estate representatives and lawyers. Best of all, she’ll coordinate repairs, a final cleaning, and prepare the home for real estate showings before handing back the keys.


Donjo Construction

On the scene since 2013, Donjo Construction prides itself on doing exceptional residential work—think Instaworthy bathroom remodels, glam new construction, and enviable additions—as well as the less glamorous work, like repairing walls after a leak and replacing a tired deck. The company gets its name from the founder’s Chilean-born father, who was known for his trustworthiness. Donjo prides itself on cultivating client trust and bringing quality workmanship to its projects, large and small.



To be fair, we’re not sure how many historic home accounts exist out there, but Jason Freeman’s would still be at the top of our list. His @historichomesofbaltimore started as a way to show off some gorgeous houses in his Roland Park neighborhood and morphed into something much bigger—a “love letter to Baltimore.” The thing about Freeman is that it’s often more than just a pretty picture. It’s oodles of information—including the history (good and bad)—allowing even the longest of Charm City residents to learn something new. His unique real estate roundups, like ”Four homes within walking distance of Camden Yards,” are also not to be missed.


The Paper Herald

The best part about working from home? Shopping for office supplies at Paper Herald in Mt. Vernon. Ever-charming owner Ashleigh Coaxum stocks her shop with all the best writing instruments, from mechanical colored pencils to very fancy fountain pens, plus rollerballs, calligraphy pens, vintage ballpoints, and needle point ball pens. Coaxum understands the office supply geek in all of us, so she carries the coveted LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook, with its thick paper and sexy colors, as well as washi tape, beautiful planners, and metallic binder clips. Our IKEA desks have never looked better.



Bee Friendly Apiary

Bill Castro’s Bee Friendly Apiary, an urban beekeeping establishment, is known for its hyperlocal, humanely produced honey. But Castro is also well-known as the guy who can deal with a bee problem—yes, even a big bee problem. (May and June are his super busy months, since warming temperatures increase nuisance swarms.) His family-owned apiary specializes in getting rid of honeybee swarms in such a way to ensure the survival of colonies. Experienced beekeepers like Castro can remove clusters simply by brushing or shaking the bees directly into a box and carrying them away for relocation. (Do not try this at home.)

⇓ Article continues below ⇓


Juniper House Studio

What we love most about Juniper House Studio is the effortless sophistication they bring to bear. Their interior designs are easygoing, never fussy, and fabulously livable. Jamie Campbell and Drury Bynum, aka Baltimore’s coolest couple, have had many creative ventures together, including stints as shop-owners and filmmakers, but after COVID-19 kept them homebound and they started experimenting with restyling and refreshing their own (already lovely) home, a new business venture was born. Whether they are making over a beach house in Rehoboth or giving a local midcentury cottage a mini transformation, everything they touch gets that bright, breezy, and fresh West Coast vibe.


Star Bright Farm

Lately, this White Hall lavender farm—its purple blossoms swaying in the breeze, the bumblebees dancing between the rows—has been calling our name. But what’s most magical is what becomes of these flowering plants after harvest. Husband-and-wife team Mark Elmore and Helen Norman, along with sons Peter and Patrick Elmore, have turned Star Bright into a destination, with field visits, a barn market (think lavender candles and room sprays, bath teas and sachets), workshops and events, plus a new Shooting Star Cafe all centered around that light, fresh, floral bud. No one does the hustle in a prettier, more intentional way.



Ore & Wool

Tarah Boyd, a multidisciplinary artist based in Ellicott City, creates large-scale whimsical macramé, woven and tufted works of art that bring any surface they grace to life. They are creative, delicate, and earthy—taking on otherworldly shapes in the most majestic hues. Boyd is constantly exploring new concepts, including AI and experimenting with found objects. Her videos on Instagram (@ore.and.wool)—including mesmerizing shots of her tufting—are a deep dive into her process, sharing inspiration, materials, finished products, and a healthy dose of silliness.

⇓ Article continues below ⇓



Fells Point Cultivated Creations

Located in the old Buck Appliance Co. building on Fleet Street, this plant shop caters to rowhome-friendly plants—low light, no problem; small space, they got you—plus has a lovely staff (including two shop dogs).


Lauren’s Garden Service

There’s a reason so many people turn to Lauren Turner for all of their eco-friendly landscaping needs. Her background in horticulture, landscape architecture, and herbal medicine means she understands the importance and intersection of beauty, sustainability, and permaculture.


B. Willow

Owner Liz Vayda and her experienced staff aren’t just about selling plants, but keeping them alive. Her plant care services include house calls to troubleshoot why plants aren’t thriving, along with vacation watering.


Valley View Farms

The drive up York Road is worth it for the wise staff and insane number of planters, pots, and containers at this nursery. You’ll find hanging and self-watering planters, plus pottery, wicker, ceramic, and terra-cotta.


Herring Run Nursery

The nonprofit Herring Run Nursery houses more than 250 local species of wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and vines at its no-frills Northeast Baltimore location. All proceeds support Blue Water Baltimore’s mission for clean water.

Courtesy of Nina Galvez


Real Estate Influencer

Nina Galvez

Sure, Nina Galvez’s job is selling homes as a real estate agent, but it’s her reels (@thelocalwander) that really sell us. Her voice-overs are sweet, the music upbeat, and you can tell she genuinely enjoys making these videos supporting local business and regions from Annapolis to Savage Mill to Lauraville. Thanks to Galvez we’ve discovered Willow Oak flower farm and a cactus-shaped Little Free Library in Catonsville, and cackled as she shared her “least favorite decade of interior design and architecture.” Spoiler alert: It’s the ’90s.


Su Casa

In 2019, Nick Johnson celebrated 20 years in business with his home store Su Casa, along Fells Point’s cobbled Thames Street. Little did he know what the next year would bring. But post-pandemic, he and Su Casa are still standing. The shop—also with locations in Ellicott City and Bethany Beach—works because Johnson has always balanced great items for the home (from office to living room to dining room to bedroom) with locally crafted goods. And despite building a small furniture empire, he can often be seen working the floor in Fells or loading furniture for the popular warehouse sale.


My Vacuum Store

When the Dyson stops working, we need help. My Vacuum Store—which inadvertently creates a whole “who’s on first” comedy routine when relaying the name to friends—is a no-nonsense shop in Owings Mills that will do everything from basic care to deeper maintenance. Within a few days, it’s like having a brand-new vacuum again.



This past year GrandYork, the grand dame of wall coverings, got a face-lift with new owner Stephanie Bradshaw. It made sense for the interior designer to take over the Timonium brick-and-mortar that specializes in custom fabrications, wallpaper, window treatments, carpeting, and what she calls “whiteglove installation.” Bradshaw gave the showroom a glow-up with modernized storage, bold wallpaper, and upholstered poufs. It’s never looked better.

⇓ Article continues below ⇓




Kevin Bernhard and Kinsley Ross’ Rust-N-Shine, located in the heart of the Highlandtown Arts District, is controlled retro chaos. Over a couple of cocktails at The Laughing Pint, Bernhard and Ross discovered a shared love of vintage items, which led to them opening their own shop in 2015. Now their 1,200-square-foot space houses an always-changing collection of eclectic homewares, art, and furnishings. Items range from the random (box pay phones and vintage mechanical pencils) to the stylish (classic bar carts and midcentury lamps) to everything in between.

⇓ Article continues below ⇓

Explore More Winners

Food & Drink

Best of: Food

Edited by Jane Marion with Amy Scattergood, Mike Unger, Lauren Cohen, and Suzanne Loudermilk
Arts & Culture

Best of: Arts

By Lydia Woolever

Best of: Fun

Edited by Max Weiss with Lauren Cohen, Janelle Erlichman Diamond, J.M. Giordano, Grace Hebron, Christianna McCausland, Corey McLaughlin, and Lydia Woolever
Home & Living

Best of: Home

Edited by Janelle Erlichman Diamond with Christianna McCausland
Style & Shopping

Best of: Lifestyle

Edited By Rachel Hinch with Janelle Erlichman Diamond

You May Also Like

Home & Living

Hello, Neighbor: Violetville

Residents of the Southwest Baltimore locale—named for its purple spring blooms—prize their community’s diversity, neighborly bonds, recently renovated elementary/middle school, and 10-acre park.