San Francisco transplants Christine and Steve Schillinger enjoy German Village's red bricks.
In German Village, it's easy to be drawn outdoors in the summer. Restaurateurs open their brick patios for open-air dining. Shop owners move their merchandise outside for sidewalk sales. And artists perform concerts and dramas in the park.
Homeowners, too, deck out their front porches, fill their window boxes with flowers, transform their intimate backyards and create pocket gardens at their historic brick homes. Just ask village residents Christine and Steve Schillinger, who moved from California to Columbus three years ago and have fully embraced their historic home's outdoor living spaces.
“Although we're two miles from Downtown, it feels like we're secluded with all our trees and the park nearby,” says Christine, who enjoys hosting dinner parties on their home's tree-lined back patio or relaxing with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on their wide front porch, which overlooks the 23-acre Schiller Park.
The Schillingers moved to the village in 2015 after living for years in the San Francisco Bay area. There, the couple had purchased what they thought was their forever home, which was complete with a pool. But Steve received an offer to become the chief executive officer of Salon Lofts, which is headquartered in Downtown Columbus.
In their search for a new home, the Schillingers toured many of the city's neighborhoods before they discovered German Village's charm.
“There were no bricks in California, so to see brick throughout an entire community was a beautiful thing,” says Christine. They ended up purchasing a Queen Anne home with a gabled roof and slate shingles. The home was originally built in 1897 for Charles Frank and had recently been renovated with a two-story addition, a back patio, a pool with a fountain and new landscaping.
When the Schillingers moved in, they added their personal touches to the exterior starting with the front porch where they painted the oversized front door red for a pop of color. They furnished the porch with a black swing and a bistro set to complement the black-and-white, graphic-patterned tile floor and the large, arched front window that's trimmed in black. Layers of both rounded and squared boxwood hedges, in addition to multiple azaleas, create a lush transition between the porch and the sidewalk. Along the street, a large maple tree adds character and shade to the front lawn.
In back, more trees and shrubs create an intimate park-like setting for entertaining, as well as viewing from the addition's great room and upstairs master suite. A pergola-covered dining terrace extends from this addition. Painted charcoal gray, the pergola is trimmed with strings of market lights. Four round columns help define the space, yet provide open views to the landscaped backyard. Broad steps lead down to a formal limestone patio featuring a rectangular fountain pool with eight crisscrossing water sprays.
A low boxwood hedge frames the patio, and spring-flowering dogwood and magnolia trees add further interest. A wood-planked fence, also in charcoal gray, encloses the backyard and features an attractive trellis detail along the top edge. A row of European hornbeams creates an additional buffer of privacy along the fence. Two other backyard highlights include an allée of additional hornbeams along a side path leading to a gate and a smaller rear patio and pergola covered with wisteria vines.
Besides a few squirrels in the attic, Christine says the biggest challenge with their home has been the constant upkeep that comes with an old home.
“It's become our hobby,” she says. But they have willingly embraced the move from their 3-year-old California home to this 120-year-old house. Future projects include creating a stained-glass window for the front door and adding some summer-blooming hydrangeas to the front landscape.
This summer, the couple is enjoying hosting summer barbeques or inviting friends to join them for a picnic dinner and Shakespeare play, which is staged in the park just across the street.
In 2016, they opened their home for the German Village Haus Und Garten Tour. And, for the past two years, they've hosted pre-Tour dinners including one with a Bavarian theme honoring the Oktoberfest, which years ago was held across the street in the park. Last year was the park's 150th anniversary, and Christine says they celebrated its history by recreating a German beer garden in their backyard—complete with tables, white linens, blue runners, wheat husk centerpieces and beer steins. Christine works as an instructional designer, so she welcomes these events as a creative outlet.
“It's my chance to get artsy,” she explains.
This spring, the Schillingers brought home an English Labrador retriever puppy named Haley, who is coaxing them outdoors even more for play time at the park, Sunday walks to Jeni's ice cream shop and an occasional splash in the backyard pool.
"[The pool] is only two-and-a-half-feet deep, but that doesn't stop her from playing in it,” says Christine.