Skiff House, a historic renovation project in a historic district in Covington, KY, makes use of a combination of Rumbled Full Range and Rumbled Cocoa clay pavers from Pine Hall Brick, laid in a variety of patterns, from running bond to basketweave to herringbone, to create visual interest in a relatively small space.
Photo: Philip Armstrong
Clay brick is both beautiful and permanent, making it the material of choice for American homes since well before the Civil War. In the Licking Riverside Historic District in Covington, Kentucky, the Skiff House has presided over a prime location overlooking the Ohio River and just beyond, the skyline of downtown Cincinnati, since 1850.

Situated at the edge of George Rogers Clark Park, the two-story private red-brick residence was subdivided into four apartments sometime after it was built, which is how it remained until recently. In 1980, a local architect and university professor bought the property and more recently, decided to convert it back into a single-family residence – and then some.

Rumbled paver paired with Astroturf dog play area
Private courtyard with pavers and landscaping features that include an Astroturf “lawn” for the dog.
Skiff house rear courtyard with Rumbled pavers
While preserving its historic character, a carriage house was added behind the main house and space was created for a courtyard in between the two. Inside the house, interior accent walls of exposed brick created a contrast with original plaster walls, newly operable pocket doors and beautifully refinished hardwood floors.

The redesign and renovation created open spaces and natural light more suited to 21st Century living, while preserving the historic spirit of the house and its place within the surrounding historic neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, a house that is so thoroughly red clay brick, from its exterior walls to its exposed accent walls inside of the same brick, would need a similar treatment to tie the project together. Landscape architect Steve Lichtenberg of Lichtenberg Landscaping specified clay brick pavers to match as closely as possible the face brick that was used to build the house 170 years ago, creating an intentional foreground  that naturally draws the eye upward to the architectural details of the historic home.

Rumbled paver courtyard on the Ohio River
Rumbled Full Range pavers coordinate with the original masonry work of Skiff House.
Clay brick, then, was the only realistic choice as a material, because the goal was to match the earlier aesthetics of the house and of other houses in the historic district – and clay brick was the only material that would deliver.

Outside, the project’s objective was to make the most of the available space and deliver a functional and user-friendly outdoor entertainment space in the front and rear yards.

The front yard offers a spectacular view of the Cincinnati skyline, including the Great American Ball Park, the home field of the Cincinnati Reds, just across the Ohio River. Here, the owner wanted a patio area for a small table and to have good circulation between the two front doors.

Compactor putting finishing touch on Skiff House patio
Rumbled Full Range
Rumbled Cocoa

Rumbled pavers come “pre aged”

A traditional patio design using running bond and basket weave patterns in this space allowed for the installation of a colorful landscape enclosing the patio space, while at the same time, allowing views across the river.

The rear space was the greatest challenge, but it also provided the greatest opportunity. The landscape architect wanted to maximize the area’s use while creating a cozy and private courtyard, which required finding a way to connect all seven entrance points to the courtyard. Inspired by a hardscape patio installation at a local restaurant known for its snug, warm atmosphere, the design called for red and brown pavers, along with running bond, basket weave and herringbone patterns, to help designate different spaces.  Finally, in a whimsical addition, artificial turf was included for the owner’s dogs.

Once again, modern rumbled clay pavers demonstrate their adaptability to historic renovation.

Rumble pavers on the Ohio River