I want to thank those who shared their houses with me and WCPO.com readers in 2014. To start off a new year of Home Tour, I thought it would be fun for you to see mine. So, take a look at my place and feel free to share yours with me by emailing a few photos and short story to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always looking for homes to tour and write about.
CINCINNATI -- It may be a cliché, but “love at first sight” describes my initial encounter with our Tudor revival home in the Covedale subdivision of West Price Hill.
My girlfriend Lauren– now my wife of 15 years – and I found it while taking a walk in her neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon in September 1997. I’d rented a two-family in Clifton’s Gaslight District for 10 years and never thought I’d find a home on the West Side that looked like it belonged a block off Ludlow Avenue.
But I did, and I bought it a month later – for a whole lot less than if it had been on the East Side. My first house has become a friend of 17 years and reflects everything Lauren and I love in this world: family, travel and American antiques and collectibles.
Our 1935-built house sits on a cul-de-sac on a no-outlet street that not many people know exists. It was originally a five-bedroom house with two bathrooms (one with just a tub). But conversions eliminated two bedrooms over the years, and a shower has been added. We have about 2,300 square feet of living space, which includes a basement rathskeller that long ago succumbed to storage and a two-room suite where we sleep, watch TV and work.
What’s most striking about our English cottage-like home are the art deco tray ceilings and Moorish – not Tudor – arches in the living and dining rooms. All the (leaky) windows are the original casements, and their sills are either marble or granite.
The room that runs all the way across the back of the house used to be three rooms: kitchen, coved breakfast nook with built-in oak cabinetry and the master bedroom.That’s all changed. A previous owner took out the old cabinetry, and we pretty much gutted the space in 2008 to create one large room in which we cook, eat, watch TV and generally hang out.
Knocking down walls and chipping away at 73-year-old kitchen tiling was fun, but tearing up the hardwood flooring was a four-letter-word experience. We had hoped to keep half of the old ash boards, but when we pulled up the carpet in the old bedroom area of the room, we found they ran parallel to the floor joists instead of perpendicular like the rest of the house.
We also found the petrified remains of a green anole lizard that had escaped its glass house four or five years before.
I ended up acting as project supervisor during the remodeling of our back-of-the-house space. My carpenter brother gave me the confidence to run the show, and I ended up being an enthusiastic bargain hunter of all things kitchen: cabinets, hardware, flooring, appliances, lighting.
Although our main bathroom downstairs probably looks outdated to most people, we love it and have vowed to keep it up. Sure, its bright yellow tiling is cracked and chipped in places, but who wouldn’t want to shower with a 28-tile mural made by Cincinnati’s Wheatley Pottery that depicts two swans on a lily pond?
Next to the bathroom is our daughter’s room, which features pink walls – “they” call it salmon, I call it Pepto Bismol – and a lovely four-piece set of 1930s deco furniture I bought for just $750 before I married her mom. (Sorry, no pictures was my promise.)
Our dining and living room are moving toward Arts & Crafts, but there are furnishings that reflect our early eclectic days.
We are most proud of our Stickley-style mirrored sideboard that we snagged at the Springfield Antique Show and handful of Arts & Crafts pieces we picked up at outdoor summer sales in Burlington and Lawrenceburg as well as through the online auction gallery Everything But the House.
We’ve bought some nice American art pottery that dates to the early 1900s at the outdoor shows, but most of the small collection of Rookwood, Roseville and Weller pottery we display comes from biannual auctions at Humler & Nolan, Downtown.
Artwork on our walls comes from all over. There’s a framed poster of a Charles Rennie Mackintosh painting I bought at the Glasgow School of Art when in Scotland 25 years ago, an-artist signed poster released the weekend we got married in 1999 that promotes the Roycroft Inn’s summer festival in East Aurora, N.Y., as well as a stylized close-up photo of snowdrop flowers by renowned Nashville, Ind., stained-glass artist Anne Ryan Miller.
We are most proud of a rare and colorful 1933 map of downtown Cincinnati we dug out of a pile of ephemera years ago at the Burlington Antiques Show. I researched the map’s makers, John Becker and Stuart Ball, and discovered Becker was an important Cincinnati architect from St. Louis who was married to Marion Rombauer, author of “The Joy of Cooking.”
We paid less than $20 for the map, but just this past summer we had it appraised by Nicholas Lowry at the “Antiques Roadshow” in Charleston, W.Va., for many, many times more. A replica costs $125 at Jack Wood Gallery in the Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine.
Up a closed-in, carpeted stairway on our second floor are two pine-floored bedrooms and a bathroom with an old tub and a somewhat jury-rigged shower. The roofline cuts into the room at shoulder height.
Our master bedroom used to be two bedrooms. In the old days, you had to walk through the big one to get to the second, which is coved and features three leaded glass windows that look out over the front yard to the cul-de-sac. A previous owner created our two-room space by replacing the door between the rooms with a six-foot archway.
We have enough room here for an office in the corner, an elliptical machine, a love seat and a flatscreen TV as well as a king bed, two side tables made of old fence wood, two antique dressers, a chifferobe, a book shelf, a long primitive bench and several house plants.
Art in the two rooms hails from Paris, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Key West and Seagrove Beach, Fla., Long Beach Island, N.J., and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The second upstairs room used to be our son’s, but we converted it to a guest room after he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in summer 2013. We have created several homages to his boyhood and his service.
A post-WWII sailor’s dress blue top with a vintage Batman pin on the collar hangs on the closet door in one corner. Across the room are two shelves where items such as a menacing Joker doll and a 1996 fire truck toy are displayed, along with Navy items such as my father’s 1944 Naval training school yearbook.
The guest room has two dressers. The walnut and veneered-maple one we bought for just $175 at the Moeller High School antiques show. The second one is a custom-painted piece we found at Patty Glass’ Paris Flea Market in Milford.
Also of interest is a long bench we bought at the Tri-State Antique Market in Lawrenceburg that at first glance appeared to be tiger maple. Nope, the dealer said. The old bench came out of a country club and the pattern on the wood was made by golfers putting their spiked shoes on it.
OK. I admit we have a lot of old stuff.
But to be honest, some of our largest pieces of furniture were bought new. Two coffee tables and our dining room table date back to when Arhaus was in Blue Ash, and our living room couch and a black leather recliner I bought from the defunct Central Parkway Globe Furniture.
They help keep our house from becoming a museum.
This is part of the series, called Home Tour, where WCPO contributor Brent Coleman opens the front door to historic, unique, luxurious or just darned interesting homes in the Tri-State. Join him on the tour every Friday.