Photo by Tristen.Pelton via Flicker.
You may remember that I was inadvertently running a wildlife park in my Germantown home earlier this year. At the time, I was still holding out hope that the first wildlife company I hired would manage to trap the raccoons living in the walls of my house. I wanted it to work out, because the dude they sent was so sweet, and because they were cheaper than any of the other companies I found. But after several attempts to trap the raccoons, the company basically shrugged and walked away.
I talked to the owner of the attached twin again. We agreed that his handyman would come out at night, when the raccoons were marauding somewhere outside the house, and close up the chimney we thought the raccoons were using to enter the house. But the handyman understandably kept postponing a project that would require him to climb out on the roof late at night. The tenants in the house next door weren’t complaining about nocturnal noises, so the landlord wasn’t very motivated to follow up. And since we were still hearing the animals at all hours of the night over on our side of the party wall, we were pretty sure the babies weren’t leaving the den yet. Closing up the chimney while the mother was outside might not be a good idea. We had a horror of accidentally shutting the babies up in the walls of our house.
Then it got worse.
Today it’s all about the fancy: the “oh!” in “ostentatious,” the photo-ops of opulence, the dance of abundance. It’s Property’s Luxe Life.
This estate is so well-equipped we can’t really think of anything it lacks except maybe a shark tank. Home theater? Check. Salt-water pool with a waterfall feature? Check. Elevator, wine cellar, tennis court, private pond stocked with fish? You betcha. The main house has a library so traditional-looking it even comes with a stern but loving grandfather. Not really. The kitchen has a country design aesthetic, all white wood cabinets and brassy hardware, which is sort of fun after looking at too many ultra-modern kitchens.
Four-hundred-thousand dollars won’t buy you a mansion in the Philadelphia area. But for that price you can get a spacious, well-maintained home on a nice, big lot, or fall for a charming fixer-upper with superb architecture. We picked five homes in the five-county region, so there’s something to match any commute.
The community garden on American Street between Somerset and Cambria is a project of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a social service organization in North Philly. The garden is called “La Huerta del Pueblo,” which means, loosely translated, community garden. It was established a year ago on city-owned land, and has gone from being a trash-strewn eyesore to blooming with flowers and food crops.
This is a two-story house with finished basement, but from the outside it reads like a long, low ranch house. The house was built in the 1950s but has recently undergone a complete renovation.
The center hall has inlaid wood floors, and a chair rail separates the white woodwork from the peach-colored walls. The kitchen ceiling is wood-paneled with glossy paint that reflects light. The cabinets are cream-colored, and there’s an extra sink in the stone-topped center island. The first-floor master suite has two bathrooms, which sounds like a good investment in the long-term health of any relationship.
786 N. Taney Street
Fairmount is that perfect mix–within walking distance, if you’re spry, to Center City, but also convenient to all the best freeways. Most of the homes don’t have big yards, but the outdoor mecca around the Art Museum has something for everyone, from gardens to jogging paths to creepily patriotic sculptures. We’ve picked out a few townhomes for your perusal.
Media is the county seat of Delaware County, and is about a half an hour from Philadelphia. With a population just over 5,000, you’d think it would feel like a small town. But you can actually get many of the comforts of life in Media, like decent Thai food and trolley service to Center City.
Media was also apparently the first Fair Trade town in America. How ’bout that.
Photo: Virginia Claire McGuire
Artist Julie Stone Waring bought her house in Northern Liberties almost 15 years ago, and her garden has changed a lot over the years. At first, the yard was full sun, with a big fruiting cherry tree and grapes growing along a wall. But that has changed in the years since.
“Developers have decided to build on every inch of Northern Liberties,” Waring said. “My yard has turned into a shady yard with a few sunny spots.”
Most recently, developers built a three-story house immediately behind her yard, further limiting her sun exposure. She especially misses the evening light in the garden.
“Since I don’t have as much sun, I have been growing fewer vegetables and more flowers,” she said.
Photo by Bob Marks via Flickr.
Collingswood is a small town a short PATCO ride from Center City, Philadelphia. It’s named after the Collings family, which owned a large farm in the area. Homes date back as far as the early 18th century, although much of the housing stock seems to be Victorian era.
6 East Palmer Avenue
Baths: 1 full, 1 partial
Square footage: 1,221
Extra space: The master suite has two closets and a walk-in shower.
Duly noted: A surprising and tasteful modern renovation opened up the floor plan of this 1925 single family.
People who live in San Francisco or New York can’t believe it, but it’s still possible to find an attractive fixer-upper for under $100,000 in Philadelphia. You might be out in the sticks somewhere, and you might not be near the hippest bars. But you’ll be within the city limits and have a very attractive home as long as you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease. Here are a few listings that look promising to us. For more photos, click on the address of the home.