Chris & Liz Lankenau
Fairmount — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
800 square feet — 2 bedrooms (one used as TV room)
Years lived in:
Chris and Liz (who originally shared their Retro Rowhouse
with us) have slowly but surely worked their way through renovations. Their patience and eye for design have helped them transform a once unbelievably outdated home into a design enthusiasts dream home.
Liz purchased this home 10 years ago because she fell in love with the stove and sink. She hadn't even met Chris yet and began the renovations herself. She stripped wallpaper, ripped up carpet and installed central air conditioning — luckily for Chris, these things had already been taken care of by the time he moved in.
Over the decade-long renovation process the couple have been able to take their time and carefully cater their eye to exactly what they want. Through tile selection in the kitchen (the blue is discontinued so they bought the rest of the stock, just in case
), and even choosing a paint color that is eerily similar to the original — they've thought about everything. They designed the kitchen entirely around the sink and stove. While doing so didn't afford them the luxury of ample storage space, they're certainly making it work with IKEA shelving. What we love about the shelving in addition to providing storage space, it has a cutting board top, so it provides countertop space as well.
My absolute favorite part of the house is the upstairs TV room. It's dark with pops of refreshing color and transports you back to a different era where you just want to sit on the couch with a book and a drink. The brown wall color works perfectly with the furniture and the bright accessories. Each item in the room was carefully considered and has its very own place.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
How would you define your style?
1960s meets 1860s.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Working with what we have left from a Civil War-era rowhouse but applying Mid-century Modern aesthetic, which is a style that is great for small spaces.
What is your favorite element of your home?
Liz: the farm sink and 1940s oven; the original, former exterior window between the dining room and kitchen. Chris: the “lodgey and loungey” TV room; the colors.
What is the biggest challenge of your home?
More closet space would be nice (there is only one in the entire house). Having a dinner party is difficult in a small dining room, and the clean up isn’t fun since there’s no dishwasher. And if we have more than 6 people over at once, we need to spread out the company into two rooms!
What do friends say about your home?
Fearlessness about color and they like our furniture.
What is your home's biggest embarrassment?
No real embarrassments left after 10 years of work, but the yard (or shall we say patio?) is the next big project.
What DIY project are you most proud of?
Painting the entire house, usually with four coats per room because of the rich colors.
What is your Biggest Indulgence, when furnishing your home?
Re-plastering the dining room; custom-made front door and wood windows on the façade; refinishing beat-up dining room chairs.
Do what you like — don’t be afraid of big color statements in small rooms or mixing styles. Get what you like or can afford — it doesn’t have to be an original Eames piece to be loved. Finally, try to preserve what’s unique or original about the house. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
eBay and vintage stores. Our favorite items are from both.
A mid-century advertisement for exterior paint colors; jewel boxes for rich paint colors on interior walls; a mountain lodge for the TV room
Quality oven from c. 1941 (original).
Mailbox, door hardware: ordered from S&H Hardware in Northeast Philadelphia.
Family hand-me-downs, vintage stores, eBay, and a few IKEA items.
Pillows from West Elm and Target.
West Elm, vintage stores, IKEA.
Rugs & Carpets:
Tiles & Stone: Bathroom tile:
store on Umbria Street in Manayunk.
JCPenney, West Elm, vintage store.
Crate & Barrel frame; duvet from Crate & Barrel; pillows from West Elm and Target.
Philadelphia Art Museum prints, vintage stores.
Behr and Benjamin Moore.
Flooring: Kitchen tiles:
Bell's on 2nd Street in Northern Liberties.
Thanks Chris & Liz!
Images: Kristen Lubbe
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