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Heart of Oak

History on display in revitalized, little-known Columbus neighborhood We’ll probably never see streetcars in Columbus again. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hang on to the little pocket neighborhoods directly inspired by that turn-of-the-century innovation. A group of homeowners are doing just that in Old Oaks, a newly revived area just southeast of Downtown (located [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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History on display in revitalized, little-known Columbus neighborhood

We’ll probably never see streetcars in Columbus again.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t hang on to the little pocket neighborhoods directly inspired by that turn-of-the-century innovation.

A group of homeowners are doing just that in Old Oaks, a newly revived area just southeast of Downtown (located between I-70 and Livingston Avenue).

For being lesser known to locals, the area is rich with history, even beyond its mix of American Foursquares, Neoclassical Revivals, and Queen Annes. Ohio State football legend Chic Harley once called it home, and it was a stop on the Underground Railroad as well. Many new homeowners are setting up shop in Old Oaks, but the area is rife with vacancies—something a handful of residents are advocating to change. They see a future for the historic district, one where willing owners will embrace updating heirloom homes, and the nearby Livingston corridor is once again teeming with local businesses.

“Given that Columbus has a shortage of housing stock, we’re hoping that people find the value in the quality of housing stock in [this] neighborhood—so many homes [here] are vacant,” said Pam Waclawski, who recently let us tag along on an Old Oaks home tour. “It would be nearly impossible to rebuild these homes with the same materials and craftsmanship in today’s climate. There’s nothing wrong with modern new-builds since there’s definitely a need for more affordable housing, but we need to consider the houses that are already available that may just need some TLC.”

“It’s not about displacement, but about preserving irreplaceable beauty.”

Not only are today’s owners preserving the historic homes that line its streets, but they’re actively embracing the neighborly feel of the former “streetcar suburb.”

The best example of the unique spirit of Old Oaks is “Wednesdays on the Porch,” a weekly community gathering that brings a sense of fellowship—without a sense of obligation (you don’t even have to clean your house)! Resident Beata Gray, who’s lived in the area for 20 years with her husband David, started the notion of stopping by for quick hellos in the neighborhood.

With such a community spirit on display, (614) wanted to explore more of the close-knit area, and get to know the neighbors a bit:

David Gray642 Wilson Ave.

Built right around the turn of the last century, 642 Wilson is a functional marriage of art and history. David Gray has committed the stories of the house to memory and, through living there and adding his own touches, he is continuing its history of care.

There are 31 pieces of stained and painted glass throughout the residence. A past owner, Gebhard Jaeger, was close friends with Theodore Von Gerichten, who owned the Capital Art Glass Company.

The panels are works of art, with painted eagles, crests, fish, scarabs, grapevines, seashells, and geometric shapes. To remove them would be a crime.

“I have lived in the house for years and I never tire of looking at them,” Gray said. “They bring a smile to my face. The work that went into these windows is outstanding.”

A pond was added in the rear garden to enhance the backyard, give a place for birds to visit, and provide the sound of running water.

During cold winter months, Gray can be found sitting by the living room fireplace, reading a good book, and drinking a Manhattan (or two). During these months the family (wife, Beata, and sons, Tennison and Montgomery) also enjoy the third floor, which provides enough space for the whole family to use as a gathering room. As the days get warmer, they move to the sunroom to look out over the backyard and watch the birds. During the summer months, the wide front porch becomes a favorite place.

Gray further recounts his learned history: Jaeger was one of the leading figures in the business life of Columbus in the early to mid-1900s. In 1905 he designed and built the first concrete mixing machine. In the 1980s the house became a church called “The House of God, Which is the Church of Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy.”

The Grays appreciate the dwelling itself, but the domestic love affair includes the intangible. The stories of the people who inhabit the home over time are passed down through the years, an inheritance of recognition.

On a wooden table sit multiple small picture frames. Some of the old photos look like they could have come with the house.

“All the pictures are of family members,” Gray explains “Some gone now, of course… the boys smoking cigarettes or pipes [are] my grandfather and his brothers. The picture was not staged, as my grandfather started smoking unfiltered cigarettes at 13, smoked his whole life and lived into his ’80s, his younger brothers smoked even earlier and lived longer —that is not a recommendation, just a fact. I find that picture amusing as I look at four boys ages 10-15, smoking as if it is the most normal thing in the world. Can you imagine that today?”

Gray adds his stories to the collective memory of the house, caring for a property in the present, but looking always back into the home’s past.

Michael Herman633 Linwood Ave.

Michael Herman’s house on Linwood was built at the turn of the century by Charles Schneider. Schneider built many homes in the Columbus area, owing to what was likely the perk of having a brother who owned a brick factory near what is now 5th Avenue. Herman bought the house in 1985, and has been working on his Zen ever since.

The Thai meditation garden is a quiet place in the back of the property, nestled next to the carriage house. The focal point is the flowering Dogwood tree and Buddha head on top of a terracotta base, added when the pool was installed in 2009.

The lush South Garden is dominated by Japanese-style plantings which include Japanese maple, a Bonsai Jade (which is a houseplant that winters over inside the house), a bed of Pachysandra, a large Creeping juniper that drapes over the water feature, a Japanese Umbrella Pine, and a small moss garden. Crawling up the walls of the Carriage House is a large Climbing hydrangea and two weeping Larch trees. The one-piece fiberglass pool was installed in 2009. It only took a weekend to dig the hole, install the pool and construct the concrete deck.

Out back stands an oak gazebo structure that was built in 1906, along with the house. Its original use was as a lath house where clean wet clothes were hung to air dry. The dowel holes for the hanging rods can still be seen today.

The biggest challenge Herman faced was amending the clay Columbus soil to accommodate some of the more acid loving plantings, and also the challenge of adequate sunlight with all of the tall buildings and trees that put much of the garden in shade. Outside, near the pool, Herman replaces bits of his moss garden, flung aside by bug-hunting robins. His fastidious care of the garden and property ensures that this historic home will be preserved well into the future.

Pam Waclawski & Brandon Wilburn • 1200 Livingston Ave.

Perched on a grassy hill, with its red door, moss-colored shutters, and Greek-inspired pillars, 1200 Livingston Ave. has welcomed 12 homeowners, including current owner Pam Waclawski, who has maintained the original character while adding her own splash of individuality.

Twelve is a relatively low number, considering it was built in 1854. The list of owners includes Harry D. Shephard, who was vice president of Columbus Driving Club and lost the house in a game of poker; Dr. Edgar Allen Fry who used the lower level of the house for his physician’s practice; and the previous owner, Thomas Glass, who had a great understanding of the house’s historical significance. He was a major part in restoring the home’s woodwork, including the double staircase. Before his passing he made major contributions to the content of a book published by the Neighborhood Design Center: “The Caroline Brown Home and the History of the Streetcar  District.” Anyone that had met him will tell you that he was extremely passionate about the history of the home and surrounding area.

None of the owners were more memorable than the house’s namesake, Caroline Brown.

This house served a meaningful purpose for Brown, an emancipated slave, and many others, as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Legend has it that there is a tunnel located in a closet in the basement that has been cemented over. There are stories of Glass entering the tunnel with his father, only to go so far. He cemented it over because structurally, the tunnel was collapsing. There’s no hard evidence that this is the location of the clandestine entrance. But a telltale area of concrete in an otherwise meticulously finished basement alludes to a truth behind the storied  location of the tunnel. Given that Waclawski has been in the home for less than a year, opening up a secret  passage hasn’t been at the top of the priority list, but she can’t say her curiosity won’t get the best of her in the future.

Waclawski may tend to the secret tunnel some day, but so far, her time has been spent on the soft details of the home. Glass was the proprietor of a drapery business and, in Waclawski’s opinion, had fantastic taste. The items decorating the house are unique—some selected by her, some left behind by the creative former owner.

It’s mostly about letting the house and each room dictate what belongs, Waclawski said.

“Each room has its own personality and we’ve tried to remain true to that. We peruse multiple sources to selectively choose what we feel would fit the house.”

The combined taste of and then and now combine for a home unlike any other. To date, it’s the finest compliment they’ve received.

“Someone once told us, ‘This is a house that you wouldn’t find anywhere else filled with things you wouldn’t find anywhere else.’”

Just like there isn’t anywhere else quite like Old Oaks.

For more info about the area, visit oldoaks.us.

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Home & Garden

Amp up your home style with color and quality from Georgie Home

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Move over, Pantone Color of the Year! A new local business offers a coordinated collection of quality home goods designed in rich color palettes, so consumers can easily and affordably elevate their home style.

Georgie Home, launched by Lauren Wagner and Laura Sullivan, offers thoughtfully designed home and lifestyle products. The company is dedicated to producing high- quality, simple, friendly goods to make your home feel fresh.

“We wanted to create something where we felt really good about the quality and offer products we’d want to have in our homes. We didn’t want something that you just run to a big box store and buy,” Wagner said.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Wagner and Sullivan’s journey to launch their company was relatively quick. The pair worked together as graphic designers at a national company headquartered in Columbus in the early 2010s. As they searched for inspiration and created mood boards for work projects, they realized they had a similar vision.

“We’d get excited and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do our own thing some day?’,” Wagner said.

A few short years later, that shared vision was realized when Georgie Home’s first collection launched in November 2019. Phoenix is a line of hand and bath towels in coordinating colors and patterns. The duo started with towels because it’s an easy way to bring a bit of luxury into the home, and high-quality towels will last. While most high-quality towels are plain, Georgie Home offers something unique by combining quality with patterns.

“When you reach a certain age, it’s nice to have a little bit of luxury, and you might as well get something that you will have a while for just a little more money,” Wagner said.

FOR THE LOVE OF COLOR

As designers, Wagner and Sullivan are passionate about color. And when they first started working professionally, there weren’t a lot of ways to feed that passion.

“I was having trouble coming up with color palettes and there weren’t a lot of online resources, so I started creating my own,” Wagner said. “I would find images that inspired me and pulled my color palette from that.” She began sharing these online in a blog about a decade ago, a collection that has evolved into an Instagram account.

As one can tell by Georgie Home’s collection, their current favorite colors (because, like all of us, Wagner said it changes over time) are sage and ochre (a warm yellow- brown) for Wagner, and dusty blue for Sullivan.

CREATE A COZY, PERSONAL SPACE WITH COLOR

Carrying color over into home decorating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Wagner suggests using neutral colors such as whites and greys for walls, flooring, and furniture, and using pops of color throughout your space with items like throws, pillows, and wall hangings. She also likes to add natural elements such as dried flowers, which are trendy now.

“I keep my walls the same and change up everything around it,” she said. “My taste changes over time and this lets me update my décor without painting.”

This approach also makes it easy to decorate for the seasons.

“I will add things for the holidays, and I’ll add color in the summer and greenery in the winter,” Wagner said. “I keep it simple–I won’t change my wall hangings, but I’ll update my dining room table, my mantel, and towels.”

If you’re not sure where to start, Wagner suggests perusing Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration.

“There are a lot of home bloggers that are inspiring,” she said. “Find something that you love and recreate it.”

Wagner has a long list of local, chain, online, and brick-and-mortar stores where she finds her decorating elements. Locally, she recommends Jewelweed Floral Studio and Stump as great sources for plants, and Trove Warehouse and Elm & Iron for accessories and furniture. The outlet malls and Wayfair are great for budget-friendly options, and antique shops and Etsy are great if you’re looking for something no one else has. The big retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Pottery Barn Kids also have some great pieces.

WHAT’S NEXT

Wagner and Sullivan hope to move Georgie Home into the brick-and-mortar space. With the first collection launched, they are reaching out to retailers to explore wholesale opportunities locally and nationally.

They’re also planning for their second line, which will launch next spring or summer. The collection is likely to include placemats, table runners, and tablecloths. While they haven’t decided on a color palette, it will be fresh and coordinated, and inspired by the season.

Shop Georgie Home’s inaugural collection at georgiehome.com.

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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: Scandinavian style, minimal holiday decor in this Columbus cookie-cutter-home

Regina Fox

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Sam Berry is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about raising her daughter, Scandinavian design, photography, baking cookies, decorating her home, and sharing pics of it all on her Instagram page @chicincolumbus.

She recently moved into a builder-grade cookie-cutter-home in Columbus, which she and her husband are slowly turning into their perfect home. Keep reading read to learn how they're doing it!

614: What would you call your home style? 

SB: I struggle to describe my home style with one word or phrase. I recently took a design style quiz online that kind of opened my eyes to what my style actually is, because it’s all over the place. I love Mid Century Modern but I also like a touch of Industrial. I love Scandinavian design as well but I'm not enough of a minimalist to execute it well. I love a comfortable space that doesn’t feel too much like a magazine (not that I could ever live up to that expectation).

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4xpFyGgBfY/

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

SB: My favorite item in my home is the gold armchair I inherited from my late grandma. I have many memories of it in her home and love that I now have a place for it in mine. It is unique and embodies the Mid Century side of my home decor style (it’s also one of my favorite colors: mustard yellow). I also have a vintage Danish teak sideboard from Boomerang Room that I swoon over every time I walk by it. I would love to know who owned it before it made its way into my home.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2O48uogj3e/

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop? 

SB: I get my things from all over, but primarily I shop either new at Ikea and West Elm or secondhand via Craigslist/Instagram/Facebook Marketplace. I have found some great secondhand deals, which turn out to be some of my favorite pieces. My favorite places to shop for decorative accessories are Grandview Mercantile, Elm & Iron, and World Market.

614: What inspires your design style? 

SB: I am inspired, as I’m sure many are, by Instagram (@_forthehome, @beginninginthemiddle, and @reserve_home are some of my current favorite feeds) and Pinterest. I love that there are so many different design styles and people out there, so there’s a never-ending supply of inspiration. I have thousands of pins and dozens of saved Instagram posts that I often review when I feel the itch to tackle a project or redecorate a space. I love to take an image that inspires me and recreate it with the items I already own.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5p7KwvgNgg/

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating? 

SB: I try to avoid buying and displaying things that I don’t really love. I believe the items we own can be beautiful and functional at the same time. I actively try to pare things back to only those that “spark joy” à la Marie Kondo. In addition to limiting my decorative items, I also try to not solely follow trends unless they align with my style. 

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating? 

SB: Use what you have! I have so many items that were castoffs from my mom that I love so much so I make sure they have a place. I have added a few things over the years here and there as I come across them. Like the rest of my decor, I try to stick to only displaying those items that I love. I recently donated/threw out a lot of things I’ve been hanging on to that just don’t fit my style at the moment. Now I have room to replace them with things that fit better. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vtlI1gcRG/
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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: This Worthington bungalow is a mid-century modern dream

Regina Fox

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If you're one of the 19.2k Instagram followers, you're likely already obsessed with @bungalow614. If not, we reckon you're about to be.

Taylor Basilio is a home decor enthusiast behind the gorgeous account. She's madly in love with her 1938 bungalow in Worthington that she shares with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. Basilio spends her time culminating the perfect moody environment, tackling as many house projects as she can handle, and eating desserts.

Keep reading to learn more about the local homemaker and her bungalow that gives us heart eyes!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4QDncjHHRc/

614: What would you call your home style?

TB: If I had to use defined design "styles" I lean towards, I would say mid century modern and Scandinavian, but if I had to define my personal style, I would describe it as cozy spaces that feel lived in. I love moody spaces with contrast; mixing old and new elements like furniture, floors, and accents; and spaces that feel like home as soon as you walk in. My goal is that anyone who spends time in our house feels as comfortable here as we do.

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

TB: Most of my favorite things are items I scored secondhand off places like Facebook Marketplace. Before we moved back to Ohio last year I bought an antique dresser that's now in our master bedroom. It's not very practical, is super heavy, and the drawers will fall out if you pull too quickly, but I love how unique it is and the detail of the pulls. I love that I've never seen another piece like it. Another favorite piece is the dining room table my mother-in-law passed down to us a few years ago while downsizing. Not only is it beautiful, but we have so many great memories around it and no plans to stop adding new ones.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4ft_qDnmin/

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop?

TB: Like I mentioned above, I love Facebook Marketplace. There's something so good about an item someone else has loved before you; I love the history. I also love getting things for a fraction of the cost, regardless if they are name brand or not. If I need something new I always check there before going to a store or ordering online. Some of my favorite places to find really great, high quality items we've loved for years are Article, West Elm, and even Amazon. A brand I really admire and hope to add to my collection is Schoolhouse.

614: What inspires your design style?

TB: This really depends on what area I'm working on at the time. I love gathering inspiration, sometimes even months or years before a project, whether it's from Pinterest or a picture of the Bath & Body Works bathroom that I have saved on my phone (this is actually on my phone right now). Right now I feel really inspired by renovated interiors of old Brownstones and I've been working to include similar elements in our home (even though it's a 1938 bungalow and not remotely related to the spaces I use for my vision). I'm really driven by collecting inspiration from spaces I personally would love to spend my time in, and I love figuring out how I can reflect them in my home. My list of projects is never ending and the amount of posts I have saved on Instagram to look back on later is almost embarrassing.

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating?

TB: I used to have a really bad habit of decorating based on other people's opinions of my home. I could be very easily influenced by specific trends, like when the modern farmhouse style blew up. My whole house was modern farmhouse, but also very confused because it wasn't really my style at all. Eventually I got over keeping up with what I thought other people would like, and as soon as I did, my home felt more "me."

I also personally love when homes coordinate in some way, like carrying a specific paint color throughout each or similar accents. I love the cohesive feeling of walking through a home and it all feels like one piece with different personalities. In our house, we've carried the same paint colors all throughout, like in the window trim or doors. And don't forget that things don't need to be new to be beautiful!

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating?

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5HDE5PnDoZ/

TB: My style tends to be really defined by the seasons, but I don't actually change out much of anything other than moving around stuff I already have or bringing in more outdoor elements. In the the summer, I feel inspired by a clean, white room with fresh flowers and bright lighting. We end up moving many of our plants outdoors when the temperature warms up and focus on our outside spaces, making areas like our backyard patio and fire pit as comfortable as they would indoors and spending a lot of our time out there. In the winter, I love filling my home with plants, garland, twinkle lights, and scented candles. And these tend to be my favorite months; I'm a total cold weather and gloomy day person, and I love when my house feels magical like the season.

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