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A front-porch feeling

Simple charm in Oakdale

By LauraMarie Carmody

The newel post has a simple and distinctive design carved into it. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Bathroom fixtures have been updated. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Whimsical art adds a personal touch. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
A stained glass chandelier brightens the formal dining room. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
The front door displays gorgeous wood grain. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
A new color palette brightened the exterior, as do urns filled with blooming plants. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
In the living room, winey brown leather furniture contrasts with olive walls. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)

April Shively never imagined she would live in south Fort Wayne. She grew up in Markle and eventually moved to the north side of Fort Wayne. However, after spending time with friends who lived on the south side of town and looking at houses in the area, she was hooked. Eventually, she found a home in the Oakdale neighborhood.

Shively’s house is a two-story Craftsman with elements of a bungalow design. It was built in the early 1920s and still retains its simple charm. In fact, that’s what sold her on the house. 

“This house had everything I liked,” said Shively. “The angles and exposed joints of a Craftsman bungalow, as well as French doors, lots of woodwork, thick molding, plenty of windows, a great staircase and even stand-up radiant registers.”

“The space is amazing,” she added. “It’s 2,000 square feet without the basement or attic. Plus, all we really had to do was replace some lights, paint inside and out and replace the tub and fixtures upstairs. I love old houses, but I wanted something updated, too.” 

The Craftsman influence is apparent the moment this house is in view. White siding is accentuated by a multitude of windows trimmed in green. The low-pitched roof has wide eaves with painted brackets. A series of peaks, courtesy of the front porch, sunroom, back entrance and dormer roofs, provide extra dimension and enhance the home’s character.  

The front porch is offset, with the steps rising to meet the front door and the porch continuing to the left. Square columns that stand atop red brick foundations are predominantly historic yellow and accented in green and maroon. The entrance also features this color palette, with the yellow outlined in maroon and surrounded by green. A porch swing completes the warm, inviting look. 

“The house was really a big white square when we moved in,” said Shively. “We wanted to add some interest, and John Nichter, a painter in the neighborhood, recommended the color scheme. It’s not nearly as stark as it was. The colors really warmed up the house.”  

The front door opens to a vestibule with a paned glass door that reveals the living room. Once visitors have passed through the small foyer, the room comes into full view. Wood floors and olive green walls are paired with white trim and stained crown molding. A brick fireplace is topped with a wooden mantle and a large built-in mirror that rises to the ceiling and adds depth to the room. 

Reddish brown leather furniture is coupled with sturdy wooden coffee and sofa tables. A large area rug ties everything together. 

The space is illuminated by a set of two windows at the front of the room and three on the outside wall. Narrow French doors are positioned to the left of a brick fireplace and open to a sunroom, adding another source of natural light to the space. A door to the right of the fireplace opens to reveal the wooden staircase to the second story. 

The home’s dining room is positioned to the right of the living room. French doors separate the two rooms and add a sense of elegance and openness at the same time. 

The previous owners had converted the dining room into a TV room. Shively restored it to its original use, using her own richly stained wooden dining room set and sideboard. She painted the walls chocolate brown, a color pulled from the chair cushions and hung a stained glass pendant lamp over the table. 

“I wanted the dining room to seem more formal,” said Shively. “I like having a formal dining area for dinner parties. It is fun to entertain here.” 

Next to the dining room is the butler’s pantry and kitchen. The kitchen was already remodeled when Shively moved in, something she was pleased to see. White cabinets are positioned along three of the walls, creating a squared off “U” shape. Green countertops with wood trim along the edge and wood crown molding along the tops of the stair-stepped upper cabinets complete the look. 

The butler’s pantry, located between the kitchen and dining room, features an upper cabinet with glass doors and small niches for storage. A countertop matching the one in the kitchen is available for use as a breakfast bar.  

The back door of the house is on the opposite end of the kitchen. It leads to a detached garage, which was extended years ago to create room for two modern cars. Next to the back door is the door to the unfinished basement, which is where the washer and dryer are located. 

The house is designed to maximize the first floor space. Rooms are connected one to the next without hallways. For example, the kitchen is not only accessible by way of the dining room and pantry, but also by walking through the living room toward the staircase and turning right. A small bathroom is tucked to the left and somewhat underneath the steps, which rise up to a landing before turning and disappearing to the second floor. 

Beyond the bathroom is the sunroom, which can also be accessed from the living room. Semi-transparent window treatments welcome light into the room, yet shield the area from the heat and glare of the midday sun. This relaxing space has been stripped of its wallpaper and painted a warm brown. It includes comfortable furniture and a TV.     

The first floor landing area that connects the kitchen, living room and sunroom, as well as the walls of the stairway, are painted a rich shade of merlot. The sturdy wooden staircase leading to the second story features subtle details that might easily be overlooked. The newel post is square with a basic inverted triangle carved into each side. A small diamond is carved into each wooden baluster. 

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, an office/storage area, a master bathroom and built in hallway storage cabinets. There is also an attic, which Shively converted into living space for her sister. 

While Shively replaced the bathtub and fixtures in the upstairs bathroom, the lights and tile flooring are still original to the house. All of the doors and hardware are original as well, including the bedroom doors, which Shively hopes to strip and return to their original finish someday. There is even a large laundry chute upstairs, something Shively really appreciates.  

“There are so many details that make this house interesting,” said Shively. “I can imagine people dressed in their era-style clothing and walking through the house.”

She added that the essence of the neighborhood makes living in the house even more enjoyable. She appreciates the true sense of community embodied by the residents of Oakdale.   

“Everyone sits on their porches,” she explained. “The neighbors are very friendly. Many of us chose to live in older homes, so we share similar interests. The houses are beautiful, and it’s a great neighborhood.”

“Even if I moved, I would still choose to live in an older neighborhood,” she said. “It makes me happy to live in and preserve a house that is so interesting and beautiful. I hope there are always nice, old, maintained neighborhoods to live in.”

Posted: Wed, 08/17/2011 - 11:10 am
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:13 pm