Maigen and Jim Rowe were expecting their first child when they decided their downtown studio apartment just wouldn’t do anymore.
That’s when they found an English Tudor-style home in the 5200 block of Capitol Avenue, a city cottage sitting atop a small hill with tall roof peaks and an arched entry.
“It’s just picturesque,” Maigen Rowe said. “And fall is the perfect time to be here. The front windows have original leaded and stained glass that picks up the yellow from the trees. It’s everything you want your family home to be.”
Although the home is quaint, it’s not tiny. At more than 3,500 square feet, it has three bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths.
The Rowes love the home’s history. It was built in 1928 and there’s nothing particularly unusual about the structure or who lived there. But a previous owner provided a historical account that adds to its charm. The story begins when the property was part of the Northwest Territory in the 1700s and ends with the replacement of the home’s windows (except, of course, for the leaded and stained glass up front) in 2013.
The Rowes (he’s a consultant at Eli Lilly and Co. and she works in human resources at Allegion) are the home’s fourth owners, and they have decorated it with a mix of their own history.
The living room, to the left as you come through the arched front door, features an aqua sofa (the first of many times the Rowes incorporated the color) with a patchwork quilt across the back made from fabric owned by Maigen’s great-great-grandmother.
The quilt sets the eclectic tone in a room that includes a baby grand piano, two chairs with patchwork fabric, gold wingbacks, and touches of midcentury modern design. The chest in the room belonged to a great-great-aunt, a frame on the wall showcases a professional baseball contract signed by Jim’s grandfather, and two Harper’s Weekly prints that feature firehouses and crews hang by the front window. The prints belonged to Jim’s grandfather, who was a fire chief in Richmond.
“We have bits and pieces of furniture from different family members as we’ve moved over the years and collected things,” Maigen Rowe said.
Above a traditional fireplace with a stone mantel is a prized possession: a wreath made out of her grandfather’s sheet music.
“He was a musician and he played in all kinds of community bands,” Rowe said. “When he passed away, my mom made those wreaths.”
At the end of the living room is a nook, which a former owner used for an office. The Rowes painted the room aqua (“The color evokes happiness,” Rowe said) and gave it a stronger midcentury vibe, with two bent-metal chairs the couple bought at an estate sale and her mom recovered in red vinyl. Two alcoves with shelves hold some of the couple’s many books, as well as globes, a scale and a red toy dinosaur.
“The red and the aqua is one of my favorite color combinations,” she said. “I try to put it in every single place we live. When we bought this place and saw the bookshelves, we decided it would be a nice reading area.”
The red extends into the dining room on the other side of the house, where red, wooden chairs surround a wooden table—a luxury after living in a studio apartment. “We have a pretty large family,” Rowe said. “We wanted a big table to fit a lot of people around.”
A family room, added to the back of the home in 1984, features a fireplace, built-in cabinetry and shelves as well as a pass-through from the kitchen. The room includes a brick wall, once the back outside wall of the house. It’s where the family—which now includes 3-year-old Charlie and 1-year-old Otto—spend much of their time.
Just outside is a small, shady deck, brick patio and back yard with a firepit—just big enough for toddlers. Upstairs, a bright blue room is the nursery for 1-year-old Otto, and a sweet, traditional space for 3-year-old Charlie. The Rowes’ soothing master bedroom uses a much gentler shade of aqua.
Maigen Rowe said the family needs one more bedroom—a guest room for family and friends. And so the Rowes have put their home on the market, priced at $489,900, and started the hunt for something a little bigger and maybe a little closer to downtown.
“We thought we would be here for a long, long time. We were not planning on selling. So it’s bittersweet,” she said. “We had the two kids here and all of their young memories are here.”•