I Didn’t Find My Apartment in an Old Victorian, It Found Me

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Name: Brian and cats Moses, Henry, and Tillie
Location: Chestnut Hill — Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The basics: 7 years, rented — 1,200 square feet

Brian and his gorgeous apartment came together in an act of real estate fate, and it has been domestic bliss ever since. Not one to settle for a room that’s just ok, he has explored and rearranged his space to make sure everything is just right. The result is a colorful and smart space that still feels homey and approachable.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I didn’t find my apartment; it found me, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It all started with a phone call to my landlord eight years ago, when I asked if I could paint the walls of my small downtown studio, and he instead suggested I take a look at an apartment in a Victorian house he had just finished renovating across town. The house was in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood, which I had always liked, and was built in 1896 by a locally-renowned architect, C. Emlen Urban. Instead of a creepy, dour feel that I normally associate with large homes of the era, the house was surprisingly light and welcoming. And making my neighbors some of my dearest friends helped cement my love for this house. Every day I look forward to coming home to it and my three cats (Tillie, Moses, and Henry), and count myself incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed so much time here.

What is your favorite room and why? I like spending time in the den. It has this amazing pocket door that can keep it hidden away, and the curved bay window lets in the prettiest light shortly before sunset. I wanted a great spot to read, which is why I picked a soft velvet sofa for that room.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I’d bring back the radiators! While I am eternally grateful for updated central air in the summer, the same system has trouble competing with Pennsylvania winters and drafty, single-glazed windows. My first apartments had rads, and I miss that blanket of steady, even heat.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I’m fascinated by the stories behind old homes, so I was really excited when I found the blog of a student at a local college who studied the architect who had built my house. He had posted several analytique sketches of homes in the neighborhood. I printed them out and plan to pop them in frames (so thanks for sharing!).

Brian’s words of wisdom: This apartment taught me not to lock myself into thinking about the rooms in a certain way. While some rooms may reveal their layout or purpose easily, others can require a great deal of patiently living in them, staring at them, and editing them before you truly find a fit. I’ve had my dining area in three different locations in the past seven years—but this time, I think I’ve got it! So I guess my advice is not to let your rooms off the hook so easily. That crazy idea might just work even better. (Oh, and lift with your knees!)

Thanks, Brian!

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