Name: Amelia Costanzo & Becky Harrison
Location: Italian Village — Columbus, Ohio
Size: 1,295 square feet
Years lived in: 2+ — owned
When Amelia Constanzo first visited what would become her Italian Village home, it wasn't much to look at. The condominium, a foreclosure property, was dirty — just cleaning the place took six weeks! — but the price was right, and its location, a short walk from Columbus' downtown as well as the Short North arts district, was just what the she and partner Becky Harrison were seeking.
The condominium "was filthy and nasty, but it was the right size, it was the right neighborhood, it was the right price," says Amelia. "I was like, 'I don't know,' says Becky, who credits Amelia's "awesome vision" for seeing the possibilities in the home they have today. In the two-plus years since they purchased the turn of the century-era condo, the pair has made their space into a warm and inviting home for them and their animal companions, cats Zarka and Justin, and dogs Frisky and Ed.
As I stepped into Amelia and Becky's condo and over the wryly named Frisky, a collie rescue with a beyond-calm demeanor, it was easy to forget I was just feet from a major Columbus thoroughfare. Amelia and Becky's home is a cozy, cheery, and, above all else, wonderfully personal space: a fabric wall hanging over the sofa was sewn by Amelia's mother; the pair's dining table came from her aunt; while oversized decorative wooden cutlery hanging on a dining room wall was inherited from Becky's grandmother, who herself received it from Becky's father when he was stationed in Vietnam. Upstairs, I encountered what has so far been the couple's biggest investment in their residence: in March, they hired a contractor to overhaul their bathroom, knocking out a tiny third bedroom to do so. The tub that that had been in the space was "kind of frightening, and not really safe for our parents," says Becky. Moreover, 'there were layers and layers of paint. It just never got clean," says Amelia. The renovation also allowed them to add a second-floor laundry (the property's previous owner had installed the washer and dryer in the dining room). After more than a year of a substandard bathroom and having to haul dirty clothes to the laundry mat, the novelty of their improved location hasn't yet worn off, says Becky.
All about the condominium is evidence of the couple's passions — for travel, for family, and for animals, which are featured in art throughout their home. Amelia's green thumb is apparent, too, with thriving plants positioned throughout the place. Her dedication is not limited to the life inside her home; she also coordinates the Short North Blockwatch in an effort to keep her neighborhood safe. For her part, Becky, beyond being an ace in the kitchen, can often be seen on the stage as the Rev. Roy Rogers in The Royal Renegades, a Columbus drag king troupe to which she and Amelia belong.
Although this home marks the first Amelia and Becky have shared with each other, the two were able to merge their individual styles seamlessly--though Becky is known to defer to Amelia regarding the décor. (For instance, Amelia put the kibosh on Becky's idea that they affix faux flowers to the ceiling in one room, citing the difficulty of dusting such an arrangement.) Still, the home retains some dramatic flair: for instance, in the guest bedroom, lime green meets aqua on both walls and ceiling, creating a lively interplay of color in the process. In the kitchen, one wall has a dense cover of art, souvenirs of previous travels and family photos. And standing sentry over the whole place, moving quickly from room to room during my visit was Amelia and Becky's diminutive — but assertive — chihuaua Ed, clearly anxious to make sure both man and beast remained in line.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Inspiration: We watch a lot of HGTV, but let's be realistic - those circumstances aren't usually realistic. Most of us don't have designers, architects, visionaries and bottomless pocketbooks at our disposal. Our friends and their homes are our dream sources. Their styles inspire us. We also work with what we have. We haven't bought a single piece of furniture since we combined households. We took a look at what each of us brought to the table, and we worked on color schemes from there. We think it has turned out pretty well.
Favorite Element: We have to pick a favorite?! We'll narrow it down to two things. We love the colors. You know how it is - you rent for your entire life and are limited in how you can make a place your home, but once you buy you can do whatever you want ... within reason. The character an old house provides is the second favorite element.
Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge is patience. We have so many visions for our home, but a limited budget.
What Friends Say: The two most common reactions we get from our friends are that "It's so you" and that they can't believe how we've transformed the place: "I was afraid when I first saw it," they'd say.
Biggest Embarrassment: Dirty baseboards! - Amelia; Some of the books we have displayed. - Becky. You can see how we differ.
Proudest DIY: Painting every single surface. Well, almost. There's more to go.
Biggest Indulgence: The bathroom/laundry room remodel. We easily could have renovated the bathroom into something functional and fresh, but we opted to stretch the budget and make it something we'd really enjoy. We took it to the next level by moving and removing walls, adding a laundry room, and splurging on the tile and vanity.
Best Advice: Be patient. Don't be afraid to work slowly. Each milestone ends up being rewarding, no matter how small of a feat.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- • Valspar: Wet Pavement (living room)
• Valspar: Sable Evening (dining room)
• Valspar: Spring Meadow (kitchen)
• Valspar: Notre Dame (upstairs hall)
• Valspar: Moon Shade (master bedroom)
• Valspar: Bayside (aqua color, unsure of green shade; guest bedroom)
- • sofa and arm chair: Kittle's Urban Casual line, but they are secondhand
• coffee table: Grandview Mercantile
• TV table: repurposed and refinished children's desk
• side table: Pier 1
• entrance table/coat rack: hand-me-downs from Amelia's parents
• rug is from Garden Ridge - best find: $100!
- • mid-century modern table and chairs from Amelia's aunt and uncle
• china cabinet: antique hand-me down from Amelia's parents
• floor lamp: Amelia's amazing friend gave it to her. He didn't know what he was giving up.
• wooden cutlery in dining room was given to Becky's grandmother by her father when he was stationed in Vietnam
- • antique from Amelia's great aunt
• multi-colored rug is from Marc's - Amelia loves it
- • dressers: mid-century modern hand-me downs from Amelia's father - they were his first furniture purchase in college
• rug is a hand-me down from Amelia's parents
• IKEA comforter and duvet cover. We have our eyes set on a white platform bed.
• bedside tables: Target outdoor section
- • dresser: from the resale shop in the bottom of The Greystone, in the Short North
• bed: futon from Norka Futon
• chest: hand-me down from Becky's parents
- • stove, refrigerator and dishwasher: Fridgidaire
• washer and dryer: Samsung
- • art: made by ourselves, family and friends; purchased at local art fairs and while traveling; our own photographs; Amelia's mom quilted the wall hanging in the living room, made the fabric of the black living room pillows and made the photo board in the kitchen
• items such as candle holders and knick knacks are family heirlooms, from thrift stores, and from crafters both locally and from our travels
Thanks, Amelia and Becky!
Images: Jennifer Wray
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