The Space

By J. Cooper Robb
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 14, 2005

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Helen Hyder
Occupation: Gallery owner.
Neighborhood: Northern Liberties.
Style: Art gallery/4,000-square-foot four-bedroom home.

 

Artists are expected to live in houses reflecting their creativity. But even so, the home shared by artist Frank Hyder, his wife Helen and their three younger children is marvelously original. Smack in the heart of Northern Liberties, their large and open space is filled with artwork, plants and enough small animals to open a petting zoo.


How long have you been in Northern Liberties?
"We bought the building next door first, and that was 28 years ago. Where we are now was just a vacant lot then. Then we purchased that and a little building directly behind it. My husband put in a single-story studio here, and we've been working on it ever since."

And the gallery is just on the ground floor?
"There's a lower level to the gallery as well. We live on the three floors above, the top floor of which Frank is turning into his new studio space. The house is an ongoing project."

I love all the masks in the living room and the bathroom.
"Frank goes to Mexico a lot, and he picks those up there."

You have a ton of plants.
"Normally most of them are outside. We have a number of balconies and decks, and we also have a big courtyard in back between the buildings. But in the winter I put them in the front room, which is typically the living room."

The way the living room flows into the kitchen makes it feel very open.
"I wanted a large open area. It's a great place for the kids. One of the things I insisted on when we moved in here was that each child have their own bedroom. We have six children, though most of them are older and don't live at home anymore."

How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you have?
"There are four bedrooms and I think four bathrooms. My college-aged son is home right now, and he's using my reading room for his bedroom."

How long have you had the pond in the courtyard out back?
"We've had the pond there for about 10 years. But it's moved around quite a bit. This courtyard area used to be a yard, so the pond was over to the side a bit. It was also with us in Jersey when we lived there."

Is the pond hard to maintain?
"Not at all. It's about 4 feet deep. The first warm day of summer I just muck it out, and that's it."

Do you have fish in it?
"Yes, about 40 of them. We also have fish in the living room. And then we have a rabbit, a gerbil and our dog."

Your fireplace mantel is great.
"My husband designed it. We just broke up some Mexican tiles and decorated it with those."

Where did you get your furniture?
"We get a lot from flea markets."

Do you like rummaging around in those?
"My husband does. I personally think we have enough stuff, but whenever he goes out he seems to come home with something else."

 

Got a great space? Email J. Cooper Robb (jrobb@philadelphiaweekly.com) with your name, neighborhood and contact info.

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