Row House Sampler – Greek Revival Row Houses

I’m constantly taking photos of row houses, many of which do not make it into proper articles. Below are row houses in the Greek Revival style. Homes like this were built during much of the early through mid-19th Century in just about every major city in the Eastern U.S.. This style was also very popular in London. For more information about the Greek Revival architectural style, read our Guide to Greek Revival Row House Architecture post.

When looking at historic row homes, many times you see a crossover of styles with elements from more than one style. These have Federal elements and the third photo has Second Empire elements.

Greek Revival Row House

Greek Revival Row House

Greek Revival Row House

Row House Sampler – Federal Row Houses

I’m constantly taking photos of row houses, many of which do not make it into proper articles. Below are row houses in the Federal/Georgian style. Many are period homes from before 1825. For more information about the Federal/Georgian architectural style, read our Guide to Federal Row House Architecture and Georgian Architecture posts.

Federal Row House

Federal Row House

Federal Row House

Federal Row House

Federal Row House

 

Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

The Festive Row House – Holiday 2014 Edition

Decorating for the winter holidays seems to transcend all religions and cultures. Since the color of nature has pretty much abandoned the city at this point, it only seems fitting that the row houses take over, at least for a short while, before the gray of winter sets in. We absolutely love how some owners have decorated their row houses and storefronts for the holidays.

Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

 

Here, the idea is to hang your wreaths by closing the window on a ribbon. Voila! No nails needed. Your row house will thank you.

Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

A beautiful holiday storefront.Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

When you have such lovely architecture, you don’t need to overdo the decor.
Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

If you have a natural material on your row house, like this stained wood facade, using natural materials to decorate is very complementary.Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

The six, or nine, or twelve pane windows make a lovely frame for your holiday art.Christmas Holiday Row House Decoration

This is very cute; a miniature Federal facade in a Federal row house window.A very happy holiday row house window!

Philadelphia row house during the holidays.

The Urban Row House on Pinterest

The Urban Row House Is on Pinterest

The row house is the most plentiful domestic dwelling throughout the world. We don’t always get to see the row houses we’d like to in person so thankfully, we have Pinterest. Visit us any time at http://www.pinterest.com/bklynwebgrrl/the-urban-row-house/ where we share all the neat row houses we’ve seen on the internet. Many of our photos are included and many from other row house admirers.

The Urban Row House on Pinterest

There’s More Rowhouse on Facebook

Greetings from graduate school!

I’ve managed a few brief moments to check in but mostly, school is keeping me pretty busy. I do manage to continue to post photos to our page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/RowHouse-Magazine/120467341363114?ref=bookmarks

Please like the page to keep up with Row House. Thanks!

Meanwhile, winter break is right around the corner and I hope to be posting new articles as soon as I can.

Thanks for your support!

 

Row House Halloween

Halloween Is for Row Houses Too!

We love how our historic neighborhood looks during the fall, especially how people decorate for Halloween. We typically spend the evening walking about. Below were some of our favorite haunts of the evening.

Halloween Row House

These skeletons climbing up the front of a row house.

This row house had a costume. I wish I had a better camera for these night shots but this homeowner turned their row house into a ship, complete with sail and cannons. These Federal row houses are fantastic with minimal decoration but this was really creative. Inside, the party-goers were in nautical costumes as well. This particular home pre-dates the Revolution so of course, British colors.

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

And the less spooky.

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

Row House Halloween

How to Decorate a Small Row House

I will start with a disclaimer. There are no wrong ways to decorate a row house (interior) of any size as long as the occupants can roam about freely. Safety is always first. Tripping over things and getting hurt is bad. That being said, the sky, or roof in this case, is really the limit in terms of how you want to adapt your row house to suit you.

Yellow and green, wood siding, Federal row house in Philadelphia.

However, that’s probably too obtuse to be helpful and, if you’ve arrived here, you are probably looking for some actionable suggestions. After viewing hundreds of row houses, as well as living in a rather small row house, I do have a few concepts I’ve noticed over the years.

Less is More

Obviously, the smaller your house is, the less room you have for things. If your house is feeling a little cramped, you might have to review and purge. You may have to forgo having a huge collection of whatever you like. Or, maybe just one collection instead of several. We have seen several homes with collections. But, these collections are highly curated and hold the best of the best of what the owner really loves. And, the best collections are in harmony and balanced with their domestic environments.

That brings us to a universal truth of small space living…

Keep Only What You Love

It’s so hard to part with that interesting sculpture/furniture/art/plant your aunt Gertrude got you that takes up half your living room. You sort of tolerate it because she’s your favorite aunt. You don’t want to hurt her feelings. However, although her heart was in the right place, it’s likely that Aunt Gertrude has never actually been in your house and has no idea that the sculpture/furniture/art/plant, which seemed pretty reasonable under the showroom’s 30 foot-high ceiling, takes up so much space that she can’t come to visit because the front door no longer opens for anyone larger than a very petite super model.

Believe me, she’d rather visit. Perhaps pass it along to a friend who lives in the suburbs or on a farm.

If keeping the item(s) is unavoidable, embrace the next concept for happy small spacing living…

Off-site Storage

Typically, where you have small living spaces, row houses or apartments, you will find mini-storage rental. Storage is great for things that you absolutely don’t want to part with, like holiday decorations, but that you clearly don’t need in your home all year-round. Although we manage to make-do without storage since we opted for off-street parking for our car, I would really be happy to put the following things into mini-storage:

  • Air conditioner window units (I don’t want to talk about why our central a.c. still doesn’t work, grrrr)
  • Christmas decorations
  • Off season clothes (Our local storage is near enough to visit daily if needed)
  • Room heaters (don’t ask about that either, see above)
  • Dehumidifier

I imagine swapping things from the storage unit would be like Christmas or a birthday. Probably much more exciting than just tripping over the things like we do now.

With less stuff, it’s easier to…

Keep it Clean and Tidy

There is no avoiding this. You have to really do your best to keep things clean and organized. The good news is that with a smaller space you have less stuff and less to clean. A cleaner house is more healthy (less dust and whatnot) and it promotes a calming demeanor.

Finally, a small recommendation… or two.

Utilize Things with a Dual Purpose

Beyond having things in your house that fold, collapse, roll, and generally adapt to what you need, when you need it, this is more of an approach towards everything. Look for the unintended dual use of things. Stools can be tables, for example. Or, getting a really sturdy kitchen table that can also be a place to prepare food. Buy furniture you love and use it for any/every purpose you can imagine. For example, I put my bed on risers and now it’s a good height to cut fabric on for when I turn our bedroom into a sewing studio.

Other than those suggestions, you’re on your own. As uniform as row houses tend to be on the outside, there is nothing that says the inside of your row house can’t be the most unique, most creative, most awesome house in existence.

As as side note, if you live in a historic home, do not renovate the inside to look modern. That’s really where I would draw the line. The best historic homes are ones where the inside and outside are not at odds with each other. If you want an old “looking” home with a modern interior, buy a 20th Century revival or reproduction.

 

Hidden Row Homes – Bell’s Court, Society Hill, Philadelphia

It is not always easy to find out how old your row house is, especially if it was built before 1900, and even more so if it was a dwelling for the working-class. However, it helps to have someone put the date the row was built right on the side of the house.

These row houses in Bell's Court, Society Hill, were built in 1815.

I intended this to be an article about cute little row houses, situated in lovely gardens, in the middle of blocks, providing an urban oasis for those who don’t mind living with a little less space but I have discovered that the little homes of Bell’s Court tell a captivating story.

Alan Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer, wrote about Bell’s Court last year (http://articles.philly.com/2013-07-29/business/40850220_1_bell-society-hill-trinities). Heavens writes that originally, the land the row homes sit on, was part of the garden of a very wealthy local Philadelphian named William Bingham, who, among other things, represented Pennsylvania as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788. However, Bingham didn’t build the homes. That was wallpaper designer/manufacturer Thomas Hurley, who built not only the four present row homes but also an additional row of four row houses so that the two rows faced each other. Thanks to the little masonry note, we know the homes were completed in 1815.

Philly History is a wonderful archival website and I discovered the following photo that shows the remaining row in 1961. Surprisingly, there are cars parked in front and behind! You’ll see in photos below that it’s completely different today thanks to an urban revitilization of Society Hill, beginning in the 1960s, that saved many historic homes from demolision, including these, and restored the greenspaces.

Row houses in Bell's Court, Society Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

The row homes of Bell’s Court are indicative of the typical “Trinity” style houses that were built throughout Philadelphia during the population boom of the 19th Century. Many of this type of home were expanded in later renovations but, as indicated in the historic photo, it appears that the row was surrounded by streets. Therefore, with no room to expand, we are left with the original footprint and an intact glimpse into 19th Century working class domestic life. Inside, the homes feature two bedrooms, one bathroom, and likely have at least one working fireplace. Other distictions include the ever challenging, or intimidating, spiral “pie slice” stairs and classic Federal six-over-nine/eight-over-twelve windows. There is one room on each floor, with the kitchen located in the basement. Altogether, the homes are just slightly over 650 square feet, which is on the generous size for houses like these which range (originally) from 400 to 550 square feet. A unique feature is the loft over the top floor, seen in the historic photo above. Normally, you don’t get the extra space and it’s a nice feature on a very small house.

Today, Bell’s Court is assessable via pedestrial walk-way and the streets and cars have been replaced with a beautiful garden. It’s one of those charming secret rows that we absolutely love discovering in Philadelphia.

Row houses in Bell's Court, Society Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

Row houses in Bell's Court, Society Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

To read more about how the current residents live in their homes, see Heaven’s article – http://articles.philly.com/2013-07-29/business/40850220_1_bell-society-hill-trinities.

 

Spanish Mission Revival Style Row Houses

During the very late 19th Century through the very early 20th Century, there was a renewed interest in Spanish Mission architecture. Although largely popular in the southwest United States, there are examples where the style was embraced north of the border. If you live in New York City, you can see examples on the CUNY Queens College campus.

There isn’t one single architecture not represented in row houses so naturally, I’ve discovered some Mission Revival row houses during my journeys. Some distinct features of Mission architecture that are demonstrated in row houses include:

  • Smooth stucco walls in creamy beige hues
  • Red tiled roofs
  • Arches supported by columns
  • Enclosed patio / courtyard spaces
  • Bell-shaped gables

Typically, Spanish Mission Revival homes are detached. So, when the style has been applied to row homes, it’s done with creativity. For example, it is unlikely a single row house would have an enclosed courtyard. Below, the entire row is given the enclosed courtyard feeling by setting the elevation of the homes back quite a bit from the street and placing the arches and column close to the sidewalk. This particular home has a beautiful garden and a very charming street light.

Spanish Mission Revival Style Row House

Once you pass through the gate, you have alternating walk-ways and driveways.

Spanish Mission Revival Style Row House

A little closer and you arrive at a door, which has a decorative iron gate. Often, having an iron gate on your home provides added security but you have to sacrifice a cheerful appearance. With Spanish Mission, the use of ornate metal is complimentary to the style.

Spanish Mission Revival Style Row House

Below is a different row I discovered in Forest Hills Gardens in Queens New York. Note the chimney and red tiles; very typical of the style. The decorative iron work is used for Juliette balconies on these. Look to the very right in this photo and note the windows with arches.

Spanish Mission Revival Row in Forest Hills, Queens, New York

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