Our Row House

The front of our house.
The front of our house.

Six years ago, we bought a small Federal row house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The older neighborhoods are full of Federal row houses, but I should probably start at the beginning…

When I was in junior high school, two pivotal things happened. One, I visited Colonial Williamsburg, and two, I saw Dangerous Liaisons. These cemented my preference for things from the 18th Century. I also like the 17th Century but try finding that in America. The 18th Century is obtainable so it wins. Because it’s cheaper than art or real estate, clothing was the gateway. By college I had several robe à la française, because the back is rather dramatic. I’ll have to write more about that at a later time.

My obsession with living in an old house started in Brooklyn. My first apartment was in a wonderful building, built in 1874. From there, there was only one way to go; back. When we first started looking for a home in Philadelphia, I discovered that owning a really old home, pre-1800, was possible. I was hooked! It was just a matter of finding one that matched the description, in the right neighborhood, and for the right price. What we got was something from 1832, in a great neighborhood, that’s nearly affordable but it’s on a small street with great neighbors so it’s totally worth a diet of peanut butter & jelly and ramen. It’s Federal and authentic, practically bursting with colonial charm, even if it’s not from the 18th Century.

Colonial charm means the room dimensions are small. Thankfully, we’re only three and we’re not very tall, or wide. On the up side, small means less to clean and fix. Our home has a certain patina that means it’ll never look really clean. We’ve done a bit of work that I wrote about in my former website, that will be shortly moved over here. Meanwhile, below are some photos.

This is our living room, looking down towards the stairs. The main part of the living room is a 10 by 10 foot space. Seems small but we can fit a sleeper-sofa.
This is our living room, looking down towards the stairs. The main part of the living room is a 10 by 10 foot space. Seems small but we can fit a sleeper-sofa.
Our home has a very small addition on the back. It made more sense to separate the small area and use that for a home office than to try to work with the long room. The bookcase is there the home would have originally ended. The full-width sliding door means we get lots of light.
Our home has a very small addition on the back. It made more sense to separate the small area and use that for a home office than to try to work with the long room. The bookcase is there the home would have originally ended. The full-width sliding door means we get lots of light.
This is our kitchen. It's really small and I wish the stove had four normal-sized burners. But, two people can work in the space, which considering the size, is a miracle. The skylight lets in natural light, a nice feature for a basement kitchen.
This is our kitchen. It’s really small and I wish the stove had four normal-sized burners. But, two people can work in the space, which considering the size, is a miracle. The skylight lets in natural light, a nice feature for a basement kitchen.
This is the other side of the basement, where our dining room is. This is the old part of the house so it's 10 by 10. However, it has a working fireplace which is nice and cozy. We can host up to eight people, if they don't mind touching elbows.
This is the other side of the basement, where our dining room is. This is the old part of the house so it’s 10 by 10. However, it has a working fireplace which is nice and cozy. We can host up to eight people, if they don’t mind touching elbows.
Our master bedroom was the hardest room to arrange. In the end, it made the most sense to put the bed under sloped part of the ceiling. We don't stand on that side of the room, and when our dressers were over there, we hit our heads constantly.
Our master bedroom was the hardest room to arrange. In the end, it made the most sense to put the bed under sloped part of the ceiling. We don’t stand on that side of the room, and when our dressers were over there, we hit our heads constantly.
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