Daydreaming is Good, Right? — Part 1

So in the midst of all of the chaos going on in our lives between resolving all of the structural issues at our new (old) Philly row and getting our New York apartment ready to sell, there are the moments spent daydreaming of our stylish and perfect lives in the future once we are settled into our home. Well, maybe not perfect, but certainly stylish. Being the amateur interior designer I have always been, I would be lying to say I haven’t wasted countless hours on Pinterest, searching for examples of ideas floating about in my head, all the while daydreaming about our stylish (and perfect right?) Philadelphia rowhouse.

I have at this point pinned 100 plus images of inspiration and ideas for our new house on my Pinterest board and I thought it would be good time to put a few of them out there as a starting point. That way I can look back in a year or two and laugh at what I think is a good idea now, and pat myself on the back for the ideas that come to fruition and bring us closer to our house of fabulousness.

This will be the first of three posts about my current daydreaming of our home, beginning with the exterior, then moving inside to check out the first floor, and then on to the second and third floors. For brevity, I am going to keep the inspiration images to a minimum to convey my thoughts and ideas, but trust me…. I have LOTS of ideas and these images only scratch the surface.

So, lets start outside in the front…

The front of our house retains many original 1852 features, but needs some greenery.

First, here is the front of our house now…. As you can see, like most Philly rowhouses, we have no front yard at all (although we are blessed to have a park directly across the street). And, to my knowledge, our property line is the front wall of our house. This means our marble stoop is sitting on city property; i.e. the sidewalk. Based on my almost nonexistent research and general assumptions, that means that whatever I put in front of our house is technically sitting on city property, and must be removable. To add one more challenge to this… Our house faces north and slightly towards the east. So, other than a bit of morning sun, there is not a lot of direct sunshine on the front of our house. My plan?

These stoops in Society Hill are so lush and lovely. These houses are much older than ours, likely from the late 1700s. [Source: Fine Art America]

Keep it simple with some lovely potted plants and a few low light flowers. This example above on Delancy Street in Society Hill is a good example of where I want to take our front. I am thinking Hostas in some lovely planters will be the solution with some perennials tucked in here and there. This pair of Philly stoops is also very nice.

More really pretty stoops in Society Hill. These houses are fancier than ours, but I love how the greenery enhances the stoops [Source: Victoria Elizabeth Barnes]

Next lets tackle the backyard…

Our backyard is actually considered a good size for the neighborhood. It is all concrete and ugly.

At the moment it is boring as sh*t right? Well trust me, it won’t stay that way. Our outdoor space is about sixteen feet wide and twelve feet deep (192 sq ft) which is smaller than my first apartment in the West Village (an 1880s fifth floor walk up which was a grand 225 sq. ft.). There is also a side yard area three feet wide along the kitchen and dining room (about twenty three feet long). Combined we have about 265 square feet of outdoor space in the back. Now to most people that would be a teeny tiny yard…. But to us, it is HUGE!. Both of us have been apartment dwellers our entire adult lives and neither of us have ever had outdoor space to call our own since leaving the nest. So if you look at it from that perspective, you must understand that this amount of private space outside is indeed enormous. The main area  but . My inspiration shot….

This Toronto backyard is very close to the where I want to go with our rear yard. [Source: House & Home]


This backyard in Toronto is super fabulous! Check out the video here! (warning – autoplay) I love so many different elements of the space, and while I would tweak a few things, the overall feel is exactly what I want to go for. You will note the use of off black on the walls….. Love it. You all know I am not afraid of black.

The one thing missing from the Toronto garden is protection from the sun. Neither Y or I are the types to lay out in the sun and, generally I prefer shade (I blame 13 years of living in the Pacific Northwest). We want to add a pergola for shade so we can dine outside without getting a tan. This structure with built-in bench on a rooftop garden in New York City is really amazing and very much in line with what I envision in our tiny little yard.

This pergola with built in bench would be perfect for our backyard. [Source: NY Times]

Next post I will tour the main floor of the house and post some of my ideas of how I want the space to be transformed. In the meantime, enjoy this super fun idea I stumbled across on my Pinterest.

Cranium Garden… Delightfully fun! [Source: DIY Network]

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Till next time. . .

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7 Comments

  • Chad says:

    Your back yard is 2 feet bigger than mine in each direction, definitely a good amount of space to play with. There’s an annual garden tour in South Philly in September where I’ve gotten some good (unexecuted) ideas. Since you have lots of walls and want a pergola you should go wild with vines.

    • Devyn says:

      Perhaps we will be lucky enough to be in Philly for the garden tour. I would love to go wild with vines, but I am not sure how our neighbors would feel about having to deal with them on their side of the wall. I may look into annual climbers which can be cut back each fall to prevent it from getting too out of control.

      • Chad says:

        Some climbers are more aggressive than others. I trained a clematis up a (public) lamp post on my parents’ property using plastic chicken wire. That basically stays where you put it because it isn’t self clinging. Climbing hydrangea is self clinging but grows at a manageable pace. My aunt fell in love with Schizophragma ‘Moonlight’ in a cloister at Swarthmore College. (Definitely worth a trip if you want to self-teach about gardening. They have flyers at various gardens on campus showing the design intent and planting lists.)

        My friend’s parents have a pergola with wisteria and trumpet creeper on it. Especially when the former is in bloom it’s awesome, but has to be pruned several times a year. I read though that there’s a less popular wisteria species that’s native to the US and grows less aggressively. Though it doesn’t bloom as profusely as Japanese wisteria, it blooms more reliably in our climate.

        Of course, you have lots of time to ponder things like that. I’ll let you know about the garden tour when they announce a date/neighborhood. It’s a fundraiser for the South Philly food co-op, which is a bit inconvenient for you at Broad and Snyder although I’m pretty happy with that location.

      • Chad says:

        Also, if you’re really afraid of vines on the outside walls, the Powel House in Society Hill has camellias espeliered to the garden walls. I’m planning to copy that because my parents gave me a camellia that was never happy in their slightly colder and much more open yard 10 miles away.

  • Cindi M says:

    I agree with Chad about the garden tour and the vines. Vines decrease the heat sink all that concrete creates. The walls give you protection so you can up your zone to maybe 7a or b. Maybe you could find a hardy fig. (Very South Philly.) But hardy so you don’t have to bury it in the winter.
    I can’t wait to see what you do. I know it will wonderful.

    • Devyn says:

      As I mentioned to Chad, I would love to go wild with vines, but I’ll need to find out how our neighbors would feel about having to deal with them on their side of the wall. Annual climbers may be the solution.

      The pergola and related plans will likely be a few years away as there are higher priorities. But, we plan to at least get a patio set and some potted plants going soon.

  • […] on Pinterest, I thought it would be fun to post about my inspirations for our house. Previously in Part 1, I posted about the outdoor spaces both front and back, then in Part 2 I did a tour of the first […]

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