Home & Living

Step Inside This Colorful Bolton Hill Home That Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously

With its crayon box color palettes and cheeky art, Brendan Hudson and David Monteagudo's historic house is special and unique, but also loved and lived in.
—Photography by Julie Hove Andersen

At first glance, this three-story red brick rowhouse on a quiet tree-lined street looks like all the others in Bolton Hill—stately and conservative—but open the heavy wood doors and step into the vestibule and you realize immediately that looks can be deceiving.

The small space is completely covered in Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign wallpaper—flashy in-your-face symbolism that satirizes wealth and consumerism—that then opens into a long runway-esque hallway lined with artwork.

Brendon Hudson and David Monteagudo live in the 4,950-square-foot house with Pablo, their sweet Maltipoo. The couple owns the Roman bistro Allora in Mt. Vernon, along with Liliahna Luxury Catering, Zander’s, and Piccola Allora.

They’ve been together since meeting at the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park campus eight years ago. After graduation they moved to San Diego in 2016 for a year and then back to Hudson’s hometown of Baltimore to take over a delicatessen owned by his uncle and cousin—Hunt Valley’s Three Dog Deli.

“It was nice because we didn’t have to look for business—we were the only food establishment in an office building of like 4,000 people,” says Hudson, 30. Having consistent sales meant they could experiment a little with the menu. They kept the classics, like cheesesteaks, burgers, and hotdogs, but added duck wings, butter chicken, homemade pizzas, and full Thanksgiving dinners. “But people who have like 30 minutes for lunch don’t want, like, a seared duck breast with a red wine jus,” he says with a laugh.

Brendon Hudson and Monteagudo, with their pup Pablo, in the third floor guest room.
The long art-filled hallway on the first level leading to the yellow dining room.

So, they would run the deli Monday through Friday and then spend the weekends catering, where they could have more freedom with their offerings. Soon the side hustle was exploding and they knew they wanted to feed people beyond the office park—so they sold the deli in February 2020, just a few weeks before COVID seemingly stopped the world.

During the pandemic, holed up inside a townhouse in Pikesville, they watched as all their catering events were canceled. Hudson held online cooking classes and the two kept dreaming of having their own restaurant. In early March of 2021, they signed a lease and six months later they opened Allora.

It was at Allora that they serendipitously met designer and tech executive Bradford Shellhammer. “We just kind of like naturally gravitated towards him because we’re like, ‘He seems like fun. I want to get to know this person,’” says Hudson. “And so naturally my way of doing that is sending him every single menu item we have.”

Shellhammer was born in Pasadena and studied communications and media studies at Goucher College before going on to Parsons School of Design. He served as eBay’s chief curator and is currently the chief product officer for Reverb, a subsidiary of Etsy. He had come back home to Maryland from New York to nurse a broken heart.

The three quickly became friends—eating their way across Baltimore at Petit Louis Bistro, Marta, and CookHouse—which was right near Shellhammer’s house in Bolton Hill.

“This is a really cute neighborhood,” Hudson remembers thinking. He had grown up in Roland Park, attended Gilman, and only ventured out of his “bubble” to visit his grandparents in Lutherville. “I loved the old architecture,” says Hudson. It instantly reminded him of some of their favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Shellhammer was moving back to New York but had a proposition—he wanted Hudson and Monteagudo to move into his Bolton Hill home, knowing they’d be the perfect caretakers for a place he had so painstakingly designed. “I don’t want somebody to come in and just paint everything white or undo all of the work I just did,” he told them.

“The house is just a big art piece for him,” says Hudson.

Hudson, who was already head-over-heels in love with both the neighborhood and Shellhammer’s design style, would have packed up their Pikesville home and moved in that night. But Monteagudo needed some convincing.

“It took me a very long time,” Monteagudo says. He didn’t want to feel like he was moving into someone else’s home, using someone else’s stuff, and living someone else’s life. “I was trying to figure out why it was that it wasn’t feeling like home, because home is super important to me,” says Monteagudo, 27, who grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Then he realized, he’d moved every single year since he was 18. “Pikesville was the first time that I was someplace for three years,” he says. Packing up and moving again felt like a step back—even if it was to go somewhere beautiful.

Even after they moved into the house in March 2023, he didn’t feel settled until he started incorporating their own furniture, artwork, books, and knickknacks among the items that Shellhammer had left behind. “That helped to make it feel like home, because I was doing something rather than moving into what was already done.”

But how does one incorporate stuff into an already stuffed house?

“You could definitely call it maximalist,” says Monteagudo, as he looks around the living room, affectionately dubbed “the blue room” for its wall, ceiling furniture, and rug color. Every nook and wall space is filled but it feels intentional, not chaotic. “It’s a calm maximal,” he lands on.

“It’s definitely maximalist in terms of him being bold with the choices that were made in here with colors and art and everything else,” says Hudson. But it’s balanced with a lot of Scandinavian design as well. So, to put it another way, it’s maximal minimalism—a combination of the open spaces of minimalism mixed with the personality of maximalism. There are strong bold colors and statement pieces but with room to breathe.

The blue room is one of four rooms on the first level—the entertaining level. There’s a small powder room with its loud Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II wallpaper—the better for guests to stare at while in the loo—and the bright salmon-colored walls and doorframe.

The dining room, with its yellow walls, Pier 1 table, six sculpted wood dining chairs (extras from Allora), and two Eames molded fiberglass armchairs in red-orange (purchased by Shellhammer), is their favorite place to hang with friends. The whole room is impeccably designed, but most noticeable are the Warhol art (we sense a theme), working fireplace, and Zettelz pendant chandelier by Ingo Maurer.

Each arm of the chandelier holds a piece of paper attached by a binder clip. Guests have left love notes, funny sayings, and drawings over the last year.

The staircase leading up to the second floor—where Hudson and Monteagudo spend the most time—cleverly incorporates the palette of the house, with each spindle painted a different color. (There’s also a massive dragon mural that takes up most of the wall space leading up to the third floor, left by the owners before Shellhammer.)

This level has their master bedroom, painted in various shades of black to create an ideal sleep cocoon. “It has depth and movement to it—it’s not just a black box,” says Hudson. And it’s home to their den (aka “the green room”), where they watch television, eat dinner, and work after hours. This room also has most of their personal belongings, including curios that Monteagudo’s mom brought back from visits to Bolivia, her home country.

On the third floor—you can take the stairs or the elevator, with its blue shag carpet—is Monteagudo’s “playroom” (it’s filled with an enviable amount of LEGO sets) and perhaps the pièce de résistance, the guest room. “This is my favorite room in the house,” says Monteagudo.

Understandably so, with its walls and ceiling in their flawless shade of cherry red, Marimekko floral print duvet on the bed, warm light filtering through the windows, golden-yellow chairs, and perfectly cheeky artwork hanging on the walls. The room definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“This is my favorite room in the house,” says Monteaguo of the cherry-red guest room. “It’s the colors first and then the sunlight."

That’s the real joy of this home—it’s special and unique, but also loved and lived in. Nothing is too precious; everything can be touched, used, and enjoyed.

“I go into these bouts where I convince myself that the world’s on fire and nothing’s gonna work,” says Hudson, back in the blue room. “But then coming into the house and especially this room and even just walking by, it’s a little bit of a jolt,” he says. “It’s like—shut up. Look at the house you live in. Look at this beautiful room. You’re home now.”

This piece appeared in our March 2024 issue. For more great Baltimore stories, consider becoming a subscriber.