All around Columbus, neighborhoods are constantly growing and changing. Nestled in the city’s Westside sits the community of Westgate, which has seen a recent surge in homeownership and revitalization. Located in the Hilltop, Westgate was developed in the 1920’s as a streetcar suburb, allowing easy access to Downtown Columbus by way of the trolley. Centered around the 46-acre Westgate Park, the neighborhood is one of the most affordable places to buy a home in the city. Even on a dreary March day, the winding streets dotted with cottages puts out a positively welcoming vibe.
Joe Wolfe and Rick Crew bought their Westgate home in 2015, but Joe fell in love with the neighborhood long before that. “I grew up going to Westgate park and driving through the neighborhood, going back and forth to the hilltop swim club,” said Wolfe. “ And I had always admired the architecture.” Westgate is known for its cottage-style single family homes, and of course their multiple peaks.
Although Joe grew up in Columbus, Rick is originally from Akron. After moving here 5 years ago, he wasn’t very familiar with the Westgate area. “When Rick and I started looking for homes we had been living in Clintonville and the homes there were a little out of our price range,” Wolfe explained. “ Initially when I told Rick about Westgate he heard ‘Hilltop’ and said ‘Hill no!’”.
But after an orchestrated “accidental” turn, Joe took Rick on an impromptu tour of the area. After seeing the architecture of the community for himself, Rick was sold. Finding the perfect neighborhood was easy, but finding the perfect home proved to be a greater challenge.
“When we finally settled on Westgate we looked at every single house in the neighborhood that came on the market,” said Wolfe. “When we went through our house I knew it was the one- it had so much character and charm and LIGHT on the inside. Our situation was slightly unique. Our house happened to be a short sale which, there is nothing short about a short sale. We put an offer in right away which was in November- we didn’t close until March. We looked at other houses in the meantime and even put an offer on another house. At the end of it all it was definitely worth the wait. Once we found out the bank accepted our offer things moved very quickly.”
After they purchased the home, the real work began. The 1928 home needed some cosmetic changes on the interior, but thankfully the bones were solid. Rick, who works in Worthington for a company that helps adults with disabilities, was happy to let Joe take the lead. “I’ve always enjoyed interior design- I think I really started getting into when I was young and the show Trading Spaces came on,” said Joe. “ Really from that point on I was always doing something with design. My parents supported me too and I am sure I redid my bedroom, the spare bedroom and the basement at their house a 100 times while I lived at home. My dad always helped me execute the design, he still does to this day! Anytime I had an opportunity to design I would, I’ve helped friends and family, I would help with the stage design in theatre and now I get to be creative at work and home.”
Wolfe works for GPD Group, an architecture and engineering firm in Grandview. His love of architecture and design is evident throughout their home. Modern and even industrial touches give their cottage an uncharacteristically unique vibe. For those looking to spruce up older homes, he offers simple advice. “Play off of the characteristics the home already has. We really wanted to keep the charm of our home but still update it some, so we try to have a good mix and balance of old and new. Also to think outside of the box (and box stores.) I’ll admit, I’ll go to Target for décor now and then, but the best finds are the ones that will be unique to your home. We love antique shops. My favorite is Gypsy Soul which is here in Westgate. The great thing about cool old finds is some are great as is, but some may take a little creativity.” And Rick and Joe have put their personal touch on nearly every corner of their house.
Some of their favorite pieces in their house have just as much history as the home itself. “My favorite piece in the house is the 1917 Singer sewing machine that was left here,” explained Crew. Joe’s favorite piece is a massive baseball scoreboard they also found in their home after purchasing it. They aren’t sure where exactly it came from, but it’s now the showpiece of their front room.
The couple still has plans for plenty of updates, including two of the largest projects in any home: the kitchen and the bathroom. “Fortunately, it’ll mostly be cosmetic,” said Wolfe. “This spring and summer we plan on doing a lot outside, landscaping, painting the garage, staining the fence, lots of sprucing up.”
But they didn’t just buy a home in Westgate, the bought into the community there. “There is so much more to Westgate than beautiful architecture and the cute tree-lined streets. The community we have is simply amazing. We have met some wonderful neighbors who we now call friends. We’ll spend summer nights hopping porches enjoying cocktails. The homeowners association provides so many events for the kids and families and we have our very own Home and Garden tour which is June 10th. We also have Summer Jam which is an arts and music festival,” explained Wolfe.
Home means so much more than the walls and roof that surround you. It is the community, your neighbors, your favorite place to grab a bite to eat, and the people you pass while walking your dog. And for Joe and Rick, they found that home in Westgate.