Fitzwater Street towards Front. The street is only about seven feet wide.

The Newly Minted Philadelphians

After more than a year of searching, planning, and changing everything, we have finally made the complete move to Our Philly Row. Last week a truck loaded with our possessions made its way from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to our quirky and delightful three story rowhouse in the Pennsport neighborhood of Philadelphia. Now I can genuinely say that Y and I are newly minted Philadelphians. We are still a bit wet behind the ears and have much to learn about our new adopted city, but we are also super happy to be here.

For those who have trekked over from Half Classic Six, Welcome! You are now in on the (not so secret) secret I have been sorta hiding for the past 14 months. If you are curious, you can read the whole story from my first post here back in December of 2016. For those TLDR types, you can get the gist of things from the past year on my last post.

 

Bixby is completely oblivious to the mess in our living room last weekend. It is only slightly better now.

Bixby is completely oblivious to the mess in our living room last weekend. It is only slightly better now.

OK, so now that we are in our house, what’s next? Well, beyond unpacking the most necessary of things, I am taking a bit of time to relax (while Y is working) and figure out our first projects and how we are going to proceed. I set up my studio on Monday (which is where I am writing this post). It is a very simple set up, table, chair, tunes, laptop, and tea…. All with a view.

 

I was able to set my studio up with the basics. A table, a chair, tunes, tea, and my laptop.

The studio will be one of the early projects, but probably not the first. I am initially going to do a simple paint job involving the walls and ceiling in a yet to be chosen white, and the floor in a very pale light blue. I want to keep the palette as neutral as possible because I don’t want reflected light to influence the colors of any artwork I plan to do in the future. My hope is to keep the main room sparse and use the rear room for storage of all my crap. I am not planning any window treatments in order to maximize natural light and privacy is not an issue. The north facing windows are on the third floor, and even when you are standing in the park across the street, there is not much you can see other than the ceiling.

 

The view from my studio this week. It is winter so there isn't much to look at, but it is serene nonetheless.

The view from my studio this week. It is winter so there isn’t much to look at, but it is serene nonetheless.

The very first project will be to build a stand for the washer and dryer which are being delivered in a couple of weeks. The hookups are in the basement and I am trying to set a rule that nothing of any value is less than 8 inches above the floor should there be any future flooding. They sell beautiful stands for washers and dryers, but I cannot justify $300 for two stands when I can build one for less than $50. It’s in the basement, it does not have to be aesthetically pretty, just functional.

 

This panorama of our FUGLY bathroom shows the one nice thing about it, it is big! Otherwise, it is pretty awful.

This panorama of our FUGLY bathroom shows the one nice thing about it, it is big! Otherwise, it is pretty awful.

Then the next project will be working on is the bathroom. This is currently the only full bath in the house, and it will be the future guest bath ensuite to the guest room, so it needs to be nice, but not super fancy. Currently the room is fugly as hell. It functions, but not well and decidedly not very pretty. Our goal is to do a two phase approach. The first order of business is to deal with the nasty frosting finished ceiling by knocking the plaster off (leaving the lathe) and then covering it in 1/2 inch plywood (for the future installment of a tin ceiling).

 

Following the first time I took a shower I discover water on the floor and countertops in the kitchen below. The temporary solution? A tasteful sheet of plastic taped up around the sides. We are Keeping it Klassy for Sure!

Following the first time I took a shower I discover water on the floor and countertops in the kitchen below. The temporary solution? A tasteful sheet of plastic taped up around the sides. We are Keeping it Klassy for Sure!

Then we need to deal with the tub/shower. You will notice how fancy it is with the plastic drop-cloth taped around the wall. This is because after my first shower last spring, I went down to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee only to discover water all over the counter tops and floor, with it dripping from several locations (ugh). We want to remove the tub entirely, and replace it with a walk in shower and I will definitely be hiring this out as I know my limitations, and I don’t want to be without a shower for more than a few days. A new water efficient toilet will be in the works and we need to do something about the horrid oak sink base and mirror cabinet (isn’t is sad that oak trees were cut down to make this shit?). Add a fresh coat of paint, and do something with the floor, and call the first phase done. We will address phase two after a few other projects have been completed.

 

This is my inspiration for our future master bath. I love how vintage it looks without being too full of itself. [Source: Better Homes and Gardens]

Following the guest bath, I am hoping to get started on the master bathroom/closet. This will be a fairly big project as there has never been plumbing above the first floor in the main section of the house since it was built in 1852. I will be posting a lot more details in the future, but in a nutshell, I plan to add a four piece master bath in the rear bedroom next to the master, as well as add a sink in the rear room of my studio (with the option to add a full bath in the future) as well as redesign and reconstruct the half bath on the main floor. I believe this will take up much of 2018.

 

The attic remains very much the same as it was constructed in 1852. You can see evidence of the knob and tube wiring, and the newer wiring strewn across the rafters. You can also see that there is zero insulation.

The attic remains very much the same as it was constructed in 1852. You can see evidence of the knob and tube wiring, and the newer wiring strewn across the rafters. You can also see that there is zero insulation.

In addition, we need to add insulation to the attic (where there is NONE now), and prepare for the installation of central air (or something close to it). We hope to only suffer through one summer with window shakers in the house.

 

This….. I was in love with this room when I posted it last summer, and I still am. So damned beautiful! [Source: Making Spaces (UK)]

While all of this other activity is going on, we hope to get the first round of decorating in the reception hall and the living room done so we can have a place that feels like home while the rest of the house remains in a bit of chaos.

This is of course just the beginning. Aside from all the renovations plans, I have a lot of dreamy plans for the house aesthetically. Last summer I wrote a three part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) on my dreams for the future of our rowhouse. I covered the outdoors, the first floor, and then the second and third floors. For the most part, they remain unchanged. But as we now know more about the house, the order in which things happen is likely to be altered as we move forward.

 

I believe that Philadelphia has the most beautiful City Hall in the country. (View from Broad St)

I believe that Philadelphia has the most beautiful City Hall in the country. (View from Broad St)

So, now that we are finally here, and we are getting started on our journey to become Philadelphians, I can say that I am eager to learn about my new city, and look forward to exploring when the weather gets warmer. I also can’t wait to feed my inner history geek and seek out more information on the history of our house, it residents, and our neighborhood. They say one must live in New York City for ten years to officially consider oneself a New Yorker (and natives will argue that). I am guessing the rules for what qualifies as a Philadelphian are a bit less stringent, but I am up to the challenge nonetheless.

Fore those who came over from Half Classic Six, please consider subscribing to new post notifications via email. It’s as easy as submitting your email address (at bottom of page), and then responding to the confirmation email. ALSO….. I would love to have you follow along on Instagram: @OurPhillyRow

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Till next time. . .

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11 Comments

  • Chad says:

    If you tell lifers you’re “from” South Philly they will probably ask you what high school you went to. One of my neighbors said I counted as a real Philadelphian because I live right around the corner from my great-great grandmother’s house, but I think he actually gave me this honor because he’s hardcore racist and my house used to be a Section 8.

    You said in your other blog that you’ll miss having food from all corners of the world, but you’re in a really good spot for that. I have more to say about nearby restaurants and grocery stores than belongs in a blog comment. And pretty much every place that serves food and doesn’t have a liquor license is a BYOB. You can make your dinners out really, really cheap if you want to.

    • Devyn says:

      Hehehe… I would never say I am “from” anywhere but where I came from (California), but I am happy to say I live “in” South Philly, although admittedly I tend to clarify that as “Close-in South Philly”. Those who know me know that I am the sort who loves to delve into the history of every placed I have ever lived and always want to learn crazy amounts of pointless facts. I have no doubt that will happen here as well. What I won’t know about local sports, I will make up for by knowledge of other Philly specific things.

      As for restaurants… I am not questioning the variety of food options here, but the the option to have literally hundreds of restaurants delivered to your door in under an hour is much more limited, especially for free (as is the norm in NYC). I haven’t paid a delivery fee in years. On the upside, getting a table at good restaurants is more realistic here, and I appreciate that. I am learning the BYOB thing, just picked up a couple of small wines to bring along when we go out last night. I will say, that we have been thrilled about how possible it is to go to dinner and spend less than $40 or $50 including tip.

  • Helen Walker says:

    And now the fun begins! Congrats on a successful move, hoping it wasn’t too stressful as we’re old pros on moves….total of 18 in 55 years of marriage. The last three were titled ” this is the last”……feet first next time….😉
    I’ve loved every word and picture posted on your blog and do look forward to the next installment. omg…..you’re a glutton for punishment, but it shows how much you love a new adventure. Keep Calm and Carry On…….👍🏻

    • Devyn says:

      Helen, Thanks for keeping up with things! Pennsylvania makes the sixth state I have resided in since I left home. I never imagined I would leave NYC, but I have also learned that nothing is permanent except death and taxes. Although I have intentions of this being our “last place” I am realistic to know that there will be a point in time when climbing the stairs to the third floor may not be so easy and we may be forced to find another place. I also admit to a bit of wanderlust. For the time being, I want this house to be for the long term, and perhaps having real space (indoors and out) for the first time as an adult, I will feel less like I need to “move-up”.

      We are super excited about the adventures ahead. You can be sure I plan to document them all right here. Glad you are along for the ride. 🙂

  • Cate says:

    Hi Devyn! I am an old high school friend of Y’s. I was very excited to learn about your move to Philly. I lived in the area for 13 years, though I spent most of my time in DelCo — Media, PA. We moved there for my work at Winterthur, in Delaware. Once the weather turns warm, that’s a great place for a day trip. My husband worked at PAFA, our nation’s first art museum and art school, and I still work for UArts on Broad St. There is so much to see and do in Philly, I am sure you will have a great time. I wanted to tell you how delighted I am by your blog. I love home renovations, and grew up watching the original episodes of This Old House, when it was less about decorating, and more about the way old houses were built. It’s a treat to read all about your work on this house, the gritty details as well as the dreams.

    • Devyn says:

      Hi Cate! Y mentioned you just last week, that you and your husband had lived here. I’m so glad you are enjoying our adventure! I do remember the old days of This Old House, I watched it religiously back in the 80s and 90s. Back then it was about actual restoration and even preservation where possible (When Norm and Tommy were much younger). Sadly the show has devolved into schilling new modern solutions where none were needed, and selling product, as well as decorating. Folks just don’t have the attention span or the desire to do things the way they were originally done.
      I look forward to having you along for the ride, and Y mentioned us getting together next time you are in town. I’d be glad to give you a tour.

  • Beth says:

    I love the update and enjoy!

  • Alice says:

    So glad you’ve made the announcement of your move–congratulations! I can’t wait to see how things progress in your new home. Classic Six was one of my favorite blogs and I have no doubt that this one will be just as good.

  • Alice says:

    Hope you survived the Super Bowl celebrations–I was thinking of you last night !

    • Devyn says:

      I was actually in Cuba during the Super Bowl. I don’t follow football (or sports in general) but I was nonetheless thrilled that my newly adopted city was in the Super Bowl. As it turns out, we were in our hotel bar in Havana and the game was on (in Spanish), so I saw the last ten minutes of the game and was able to relish the victory. I was not able to experience the jubilance of the city celebrating but I am proud to be living in a winning city.

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