Monday, December 17, 2012
Friday, September 19, 2008
I am so excited to introduce Kermit and Azadeh Westergaard. With all the living choices in New York City, they've chosen to settle into a beautiful 1908 row house in Ridgewood. Not only do they live in their home but they work in it as well. Theirs is a great example of how work, life, family, and community can blend together seamlessly.
Originally I learned about Kermit and Azadeh through an article in The New York Times, A 'Farmhouse' Near the L Train, May 11, 2008. I was so impressed with their beautiful home and their choice of location and aesthetic that I contacted them immediately to see if they'd chat with us about their house. When I e-mailed them questions for this interview, I loved their answers so much that I decided to post this article as a Q&A. So without delay, meet the Westergaards!
Please share a little about who you are.
The Westergaards are a small family of three, Kermit, Azadeh, and their young son Felix. Both Kermit and Azadeh have professional background and education in design. Please check out their web site at http://madebytwo.com to learn more about this accomplished and creative couple.
Kermit:Azadeh and I have recently started a company called Made By Two & Co. (http://madebytwo.com) that specializes in the design and renovation of living spaces, as well as developing innovative, useful products for the home. We really love collaborating on projects together.
I've designed everything from toys and products to furniture and spaces, and worked closely with renowned designer Eva Zeisel in developing her line of collapsible furniture. As an illustrator and graphic designer, Azadeh has worked for clients such as Target, Simon & Schuster, and American Greetings, as well as having illustrated six books, all currently in print.
Let's talk a little about the neighborhood, Ridgewood, Queens. It's a wonderful place - a true melting pot of nationalities. You and your wife have different ethnic backgrounds. Please share a little about your backgrounds and how you honor traditions in your house. It said in The New York Times article that you cook Persian food. Sounds delicious!
Kermit:Azadeh was born in Iran, but was raised in the Washington DC area. My father's side of the family is Norwegian. He was first generation American. Most of our cultural interests revolve around food. Currently Persian cooking is more our focus than Norwegian because Azadeh's mother is such an amazing cook and we're both learning from her. Our kitchen is really the center of our life. We make meals together every day.
Wait! There's more. Please visit http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/featuredHomes/featuredHouse_1908RidgewoodRowhouse.html for the complete article and photos.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Philadelphia, PA, Semi-Attached Home, circa. 1830s
Inside: four bedrooms, four full baths, one half bath, brick exterior, gas heat, central a/c, three fireplaces, elevator, eight car parking, finished basement w/ laundry, roof deck
This is your chance to own row house history! The Joseph Sims House is one of the original row homes built in Philadelphia. It was designed by Robert Mills (1781 – 1855), a prominent row house architect in the 19th Century.
Mills is known to have designed the Franklin Row, that this home used to be a part of, and the Carolina Row. It's possible that he designed quite a few other rows in Philadelphia as well. Aside from Philadelphia, Mills designed many rows in early American, mid-Atlantic cities including the Waterloo Row in Baltimore and much of the housing in the Washington DC area. His most famous work is the Washington Monument.
Mills was a highly effective urban dwelling architect who, besides designing space efficient row houses, also promoted the use of fireproof materials when building row houses. This helped transition row houses from fiery death traps into the epitome of city living. Stylistically, he helped establish the Federal architectural style as the style of choice for almost all urban architecture during the early American period (see our article on Federal row house architecture). The Joseph Sims house represents one of the last survivors of his work in Philadelphia. Originally located at 228 South Ninth street, it was later moved to its current location.
Wait! There's more. For more of the article and to see photoes, go here - http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/featuredHomes/index.html.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
There are houses, attached in a row and there are row houses. For our purposes, at RowHouse Magazine, we treat all houses that are attached in rows as row houses because the community is the same regardless of how your row was constructed, piecemeal or uniformly. However, there is a difference. The strict row house, one in a row of houses that were built at one time, in a uniform design, has a unique history in America and that history began right here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Row house development began in Philadelphia with Carstair's Row on what is now Sansom Street, in Center City. The row was named after Thomas Carstair who designed the homes for developer William Sansom and is the oldest row in America. The style of the homes, which are relatively large, is Federal. Today, the buildings house the jewelry stores of Jeweler's Row, the oldest Jeweler district in the United States. Of the original houses, only one retains its original design and storefront, No. 700 Sansom Street. You can still see some details on No's. 730 and 732 as well but an elevated front door and stairs are not original and have changed the style. The others have all been greatly modified over the years.
You may remember our story on Elfreth's Alley and be wondering how the Carstair Row can be the oldest row when it was built in the early 1800s. Additionally, also other attached homes in older urban areas which are rows but clearly pre-date 1800. Simply put, houses in a row are not always row houses. Throughout Philadelphia there are twin houses as well as sets of three or four homes all built together with continuous brickwork, indicating that they were probably built all at once in a row. However, it is most likely that these homes were commissioned by the owners for their personal use. For example, parents would build homes for themselves and children or relatives would build residences for themselves in a joint project.
Wait! There's more. Please visit http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/featuredHomes/featuredRows_phillyRows.html for the entire article and photos.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Recently, we got an email from Carolyn, a row house owner who lives in Pennsport, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just south of Queen Village (read about Queen Village). Pennsport is quintessential South Philadelphia with rows and rows of homes ranging from Victorian and Workman style to more modern. She was kind enough to share a story with us about a discovery she made during her recent kitchen renovation.
Carolyn lives in a three-storied, brick, Victorian row house. The age of the house is between 100 and 120 years old. Typically homes of this style are about 1200 square feet in size and have small back yards. She resides there with her husband Rick.
RowHouse Magazine: How long have you been living in your row house? What made you decide to live in a row house in Philadelphia?
Carolyn: We’ve lived here about 3 years. Before buying a home here, we rented in Center City and Graduate Hospital [two other neighborhoods in Philadelphia ]. We both grew up in the suburbs and gravitated more towards city living for its walkability, closeness to neighbors, arts & culture, and restaurants.
RowHouse Magazine: Let's chat a little bit about your neighborhood Pennsport. It's fairly old, just being south of Queen Village . Most homes are over 100 years old. Is there anything really unique about the neighborhood you'd like to share?
Carolyn: We moved into our house in late November. The first Sunday there, we were surprised to see a marching band go down our street. Turns out that the marching band was one of the Mummers and that we would be in for a treat on New Year’s Day. Those Mummers are a little crazy and, truthfully, a little surreal, but a ton of fun! In the last year, two new restaurants have opened in our neighborhood, the Ugly American and Café Peppercorns. Both are a welcome addition.
[The Mummers are a long-standing Philadelphia Tradition. Part marching band, part mobile theatrical revue, part psychedelic experience, the Mummers march down Broad Street every New Year's Day. Spectators come from all over the world. Learn more at their website - http://mummers.com/.]
Wait! There's more. To read the complete article and see photos, please go to http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/rowhouseTLC/surprisePennsportKitchen.html.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Often, it's the small things that make row houses special. Take away the architectural accents and you probably find yourself in a fairly basic, brick box which is why row houses have such a bad reputation for being boring. Well, we don't like boring! Additionally, summer is the perfect time to add a little charm to your row house.
If you're lucky enough to have a front yard there's a lot you can do. If you mix the types of plants and flowers you have, you can transition from season to season without ever having the front of your house look bare. Small ornamental trees like the Japanese Maple, Cascade Falls Bald Cypress, and Forest Pansy Redbud are perfectly scaled for smaller homes. A nicely pruned Holly or other evergreen will provide foliage year round. Just make sure today's perfect little tree doesn't turn into a monster that will fall on your house in future years.
Many row house dwellers have street facing homes with nothing but a stoop and concrete sidewalk. You can still can add some nature to your facade with window boxes and container gardens. Window boxes can range from inexpensive wire baskets to elaborate wooden boxes. Because they're small, you can experiment with different plants and flowers. If you have a black thumb don't be discouraged, there are very hardy plants that require minimal attention, such as a Hosta. Minimal attention will keep it fairly lush and Hostas come in a variety of colors. Ivy is another nice choice as long as you watch that it doesn't attach itself to your walls and cause damage to your masonry. As a former plant-killer, I have found that if you take the little stakes that come with the plants and use them to make a watering schedule, it works out fairly well. I use a calendar and make notes on which days I need to water which plants. The process takes about 10 minutes, once a month, but I've been able to keep more plants alive this year than any year previous. It helps to hang the calendar in an inconspicuous place and buy a perky watering can that you will look forward to using.Wait! There's more at http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/DIYprojects/index.html
Monday, August 18, 2008
Most people think of cookie cutter, inexpensive bordering on cheap, brick architecture when you mention a row house. But travel across the Atlantic Ocean and you will see that row homes have a rich and beautiful history. Amsterdam stands out not only because it has a unique style of row home but also because no where else is there such a great wealth of period homes, the oldest dating back to the 15th century.
Amsterdam is a medieval city, first settled in the end of the 1100's. During the next few centuries, development flourished. To have the maximum number of residents have access to the canals, the plots of land are narrow and long, dictating the design of the buildings. Over the centuries, architects have been careful to maintain a uniform style, a "citizens' architecture" (see http://www.bma.amsterdam.nl/) that draws from classical influences. Amsterdam is extremely proud of it's architectural heritage and in the later half of the 20th century many private and public organizations have been solely devoted to restoration. Row houses in Amsterdam are either single width, between 25 and 30 feet wide, or double width and twice that. All homes have prominent rows of windows, although the number of windows differs, and most have steps and a stoop. The main aesthetic and structural difference between the two homes is the type of roof they have. Narrow homes have a steep gabled roof while the wider homes have a wider low pitched roof. The unique facades of the Amsterdam homes are a result of architects trying to creatively hide the supporting roof structure. Although Dutch urban architecture is unique and has influenced city designers across the western world, in and of itself, it is very uniform and organized.
The first row homes were built during the 15th century. These were single story, wooden structures with a triangular gable and probably single structures built with no space between but not actually sharing a load bearing wall. The problem with this was that fires often eradicated entire blocks. In response, the city outlawed the use of wood on the exterior of the homes. Only one all wooden house remains, located at Begijnhof 34.
Wait! There's more. To read the rest of this article and see related photos, please visit http://www.rowhouse-magazine.com/neighborhoods/amsterdam.html.