urban_renewal (2006-16)

A yard, a grill and a sidewalk to use

Sensible Suburbia

Ah, springtime. The days grow longer. The flowers bloom. The loft lizards, after a long winter’s hibernation, are once again sunning themselves on the sidewalk tables outside the Preservation Pub, enjoying a pint of their favorite libation. But as gratifying as sipping a beer on a Market Square afternoon can be, there are two of spring’s pleasures that downtown dwellers—especially those sans balcony—mostly miss out on, two of suburbia’s simpler indulgences: gardening and grilling.

Now, like most everything else about suburbia, some people take the simple act of tending the soil or cooking meat over an open flame to ludicrous extremes. Gardening, out in McMansionland, tends to mean applying equal parts ChemLawn and Mexican laborers to yield a yard as uniformly “TruGreen” as a roll of Astroturf. 

At the same time, backyard barbecuing seems to have succumbed to the same upscaling influence that has transformed the cul-de-sac kitchen into massive, recess-lit, granite topped and stainless steel clad shrine to the gods of cooking (or at least looking like you do).

Gone are the days when grilling out meant a bag of briquettes and a little Weber kettle that looked like R2-D2’s distant cousin. Today’s grills, mimicking the McMansion’s they sit behind, have grown to grotesque size, to the point that it looks as if the homeowner hitched the SUV to that honking big Viking range in the kitchen and dragged it outside. Indeed, if you’re in the market for a $5,000 stainless steel barbecue grill, Viking makes several….

Not that you need a grill the size of a Volkswagen, a house the size of an airplane hanger or a mortgage the size of Paraguay’s national debt. Nope, being the sensible type, you can see the advantages this house on Fairmont Boulevard offers. A classic ’30s cottage, similar to the sort you’d find in Sequoyah Hills for twice as much, this home’s large corner lot offers plenty of opportunities for gardening, while the new back deck is the perfect place to grill a few steaks over the old Weber (although I’d opt for chunk charcoal, preferably hickory, over briquettes).

Come wintertime there’s a real wood-burning fireplace in the living room, and the whole house has plenty of oak—floors, that is—with hardwood throughout. And the kitchen, while it hasn’t been slathered in granite and stainless steel, has been nicely updated. In fact, there’s nothing “fixer-upper” about this house at all.

But the best thing may be that, should you decide to go down to the Square and sit outside sipping a beer, you’re barely 10 minutes away.

1623 Fairmont Blvd