Walking through the neighborhood & coming home with a serious case of house envy

The first thing that is important to understand about Philadelphia (for anyone who doesn’t live here) is the tremendous amount of [architecturally] beautiful homes there are here.   The second thing to know is just how many of those homes are falling apart because the neighborhood is crap or because it’s just plain difficult to keep up with old houses.   Anyways, the beautiful homes are one of my favorite things about this city.  Everywhere I turn there’s always a more beautiful house…that I wish I lived in.  (I mean, I didn’t name this blog House Obsession for nothing.)  Everyone that knows me well, knows that I am constantly saying “Oh, I wish I lived there!”  Maybe that’s why I’ve moved so many times in my life.  There are always more houses to decorate, after all!

At any rate, today N and I took a walk to the “nice part of the neighborhood” so that I could torture myself with falling in love with every house.   I’m sure the people who lived around there wondered why we were taking pictures of their houses, but it’s just something I like to do – dream of what the insides of those houses must look like.  Anyways, here are my favorites from today’s walk.

I mean, how cute are those shutters?  I can’t even stand it!  I love them so much!

Is it possible to burn with porch envy?   I imagine sitting out here drinking tea and rocking in a rocking chair.  I think this is a former twin (like mine) where the person actually owns both halves and has turned it into a single home (not like mine).   I also love that they painted the brick.  I’m not usually a fan of that, but this house just looks so good in person.

This house is one of those that is so ridiculously huge that you have to wonder just who originally built the house.  Was he an inventor or a banker?  Nevertheless,  I certainly wouldn’t want to have to clean this huge home…nor would I want to pay the gas bill, but oh what I wouldn’t give to get to live there just for a month.   The owners must get lost in there sometimes!

There are so many things to love about this house, such as the curved porch and the two-color brick accents.   It’s hard to see in this photo, but it also has real leaded glass windows too.   Again, who built this house?!  It’s enormous!  I think you’d need an army to fill it (and clean it), but I’d love a house tour.

Okay, so this is not a photo of a house…but it IS a squirrel lantern in someone’s yard.  It’s a shame that whoever owns this house has let the lantern (and the rest of the house too) get into this condition b/c it’s seriously one of the best pieces of lawn decoration / lighting that I’ve ever seen.  The house itself was in such disrepair that I didn’t both taking any photos of it.  Such a shame…it breaks my heart.

I can’t explain it, but this one is my fantasy house of the day.  I love it’s lines…the porch…the stone wall in front…the overly bulbous top.   I hope the owners love it as much as I do.

Walking through the neighborhood window shopping like this lets me forget about all the renovation projects for a moment in my own house, and just dream about the endless possibilities of someone else’s space.  Now if only I could pick this house up and move it to the beach.  Now THAT would be a real dream house!

Oh, and completely un-related, we also saw a really cool custom hood ornament while walking today.  Pretty nifty, right?  It was on the hood of a small Ford pickup truck.  It looks very art deco.  Definitely not something I’d expect to see on an old pickup truck.

And we also saw the house below.  It was hard not to stand and stare because there are just so many things going on here.  First, the double doors on such a moderately scaled house jumped out at me immediately.  Add the hulking gargoyles on either side of the doorway and you know the people that live inside must have a real sense of humor.  (Hopefully, right?!)  And then top it off with the craftsman light fixture and the 70s aluminum siding…and you’ve got a mish-mosh of nuttiness.

At least their gargoyles made me laugh.  I seriously hope that someone in that house plays Dungeons & Dragons!


15 thoughts on “Walking through the neighborhood & coming home with a serious case of house envy

  1. Oh, I know! When I was in California in January, I was enjoying looking at the houses SO much. Every house seemed to have a little outdoor space that was like an outdoor living room. I was SO jealous. That’s not really possible here. Too many cold weather months.

  2. If I had a blog, I’d love to do a response-post, with pictures of houses in my neighborhood. There are mostly twins (one of which we have), some rows, and a few singles. The singles are not as massive as the ones in your hood, but many are stone, which I like a lot. The rumor is, that the larger ones were built for the Sears executives back when the catalog distribution center was located here.

  3. Mmm…that IS a good rumor. I wonder if it’s true and how I’d find out? My house is not located in the “grand” section of the neighborhood by any means…and my entire street is twins. There are only two styles, and they were built in the 1920’s. Of course, now they’re starting to show their age for sure! Haha. (Or not so “Haha” considering how many house projects I have to do.)

  4. p.s. Vicki, I’d love for you to do a response post!! Seeing as how you don’t have a blog, you could walk through your own ‘hood and take pics. I could just post it here for you! What do you think?

  5. Haha. If you like rumors, here’s another for you: like I said, our block is all twins, probably built sometime I’m the 19-teense. If you look at the homes, you can see that many of them are similar, but none are exactly the same. For example, the house 2 twins down from us, has the same basic shape and style as ours, but there’s has an open front porch (ours has a closed sun porch), and they have a small circular window in the attic peak at the front of their house (while ours just has a decorative diamond shape – no window). So anyway, the rumor is that our block was a project for architecture students (Drexel, I think). They were each given one twin with the same basic plans, but were free to customize them a bit. I have never done any research in attempts to support this claim.

  6. I’m flattered you would want to post my pictures, sight unseen. Lemme think about it, and I’ll get back to you. Maybe this is finally the incentive I need to start up a blog. 😉

  7. I wish I had good stories like that about my block. Hmm…not sure where to find out. My oldest resident is in his 70’s, but he doesn’t have those kinds of stories. Just stuff like, “There used to be giant oak trees on either side of the street…”

  8. I know, right?! That house is a little shabby in person…which makes me love it even more. I would love to move in and make it fabulous!

  9. Those houses are fantastic. You’ve inspired me to do a little house window shopping (hee hee) whenever we have a beautiful Saturday afternoon again (still feels like freakin’ winter!). What part of Philly were the photos taken? I don’t recognize it.

    Have you done any walking around University City/West Philly? There are some beautiful Victorian gems over there. Wrap-around porches galore!

  10. Jill, these photos were taken in West Mt Airy.

    Yes, I’ve done a little walking around West Philly, but not a lot. I’m not as familiar with that area…although I did do some looking over there when I was buying my house last year. I love it over there…

  11. Hey, Leah… Just a head’s up. I actually started a blog! And over the past week have been taking pictures of homes in the surrounding blocks…so, hopefully I’ll have a post up of them soon!
    – Vicki

  12. Oh my goodness! I just discovered your blog, I have never known anyone with such a house obsession as me! These are beautiful! x

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