Living in 171 Garfield Place, A Message from The Owners

We lived in the neighborhood for four years before 171 Garfield came on the market, and we offered to buy it before the first open house. We had known about the deep gardens and vibrant back yard community on that block and felt it was the place for us. We both come from more countrified backgrounds, and 171 Garfield became our personal oasis in the city. We often start and finish our days in the garden, reading, listening to birds, or plain doing nothing. In the warmer months, we enjoy opening the glass doors at the kitchen all the way. The steel beams that continue from the living room ceiling to frame the space around the deck make the space feel continuous.

We wanted the house to feel light, clean, and airy but also to preserve the original details. Functionally, we wanted a space that was cozy but also convenient. The architecture, designed by Tina Manis who studied with Rem Koolhaas, is subtle and spacious; at the same time, we preserved original details like the gorgeous turned balusters and intricate newel posts at the stairs as well as the original heart of pine floors in the bedrooms; the soft wood is nice to walk on in slippers. The hand carved knotty pine mantle in the living room is one of our favorite details.

We spent a long time researching water filtration systems and were fortunate to find a dealer of the Japanese Tensui filtration system which is one of the most effective and easy to service whole-house water filters out there. The Toto Neorest toilet in the master suite is entirely too expensive for a toilet but worth every penny. We added small touches for convenience over the years, like a laundry shoot from the master to the laundry room and a bike rack at the stoop. The Murphy Bed in the guest room let us use the space flexibly while offering our guests a real bed.

The block is Shangri-La for children. In the 1970’s, families on the block agreed to keep fences low and install gates to allow kids to move freely between the yards. Today, many of those families now have grandchildren in the back yard where they play with children from a new crop of young families. Ours are 4 and 7, and both of them delight in being set loose in the yards. We built a playhouse and swingset in our yard, and neighbors have playsets, swings, climbing ropes, sand boxes, and even a chicken coop. It’s an incredible backdrop for unstructured play.

We asked our daughter to explain the back yards: “We have this cool thing in our back yard where I can just go outside and go knock on someone’s door and if they are home and they invite me in I can go play at their house, and sometimes I eat lunch there. And if they aren’t home, I go to someone else’s house until I find someone. And I can invite my friends over too. Or we meet up and play spy or hide and go seek outside. In the winter we have snowball fights.”

Speaking of winter, the finished basement was our most recent renovation, and the same pack of kids that runs around outside in the other three seasons cozies up and plays dress-up or does gymnastics or climbs on the climbing wall in the winter. It also provides a nice noise buffer for kids playing in the house, and the video intercom lets us to check in if it gets too quiet.

171 Garfield is a bastion of civility and tranquility that is truly one of a kind, and we hope it brings its next owners as much satisfaction as it has to our family.




Warm Wishes,


 Owners of 171 Garfield Place