Erin & Chris’ Fantastic Fishtown Fixer Upper

updated Jul 31, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Erin & Chris
Location: Fishtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: Purchased in 2/2007, moved in 7/2009.

Erin and Chris (who originally shared their Gutted in Fishtown home with us) have transformed what was once a building full of junk into their fantastic Fishtown apartment — all on their own! The unassuming couple dedicated two years of their lives into creating their perfect pad…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Erin, an artist (whose paintings are throughout the home) and Chris, a video game blogger are very unassuming when it comes to the topic of renovation. They’re tall, lean, eccentric and apparently very handy! Their building is comprised of their 1,300 square foot apartment, a second apartment (being rented out to a tenant), as well as a raw commercial/artist studio space (where Erin does most of her painting!)

Their home is so comfortable and you immediately feel at home. Maybe it’s the combination of pieces of furniture that are almost as old as I am, mixed with fantastic DIY shelves in the living room right downstairs from the bedroom that’s filled with DIY treasures. And it certainly could be the two cats Link and Zelda and the white fuzzy dog Yuki that help make the home so personable.

The claw foot tub and the swivel chair in the office are enough to make the average home décor enthusiast squeal with jealousy, but did you see that view? Each night they get to hear the lullaby and see the glowing lights of the EL as it dutifully carries passengers to their destinations. Erin and Chris are planning on transforming their outdoor space into a green roof.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: A colorful combination of DIY, salvage, vintage and IKEA — heavy on the artwork and animal imagery.

Inspiration: Beyond the beautiful homes I see on Apartment Therapy and in magazines like Dwell, I’ve been inspired by the artwork and items we already owned and loved, as well as the items we were able to salvage from the building itself. It gave me a good starting point to design around.

Favorite Element: The view from our living room and bedroom — it overlooks our future green roof but beyond that is a beautiful vista of urban wasteland and elevated train. We love it.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was getting the finishing work done on the building to get occupancy before L&I and the mortgage company emptied our pockets completely. Decorating it, on the other hand, was the most fun I’ve ever had!

What Friends Say: You’re finally DONE?! Partytime!

Biggest Embarrassment: We somehow royally messed up the grouting of the penny tiles on the bathroom floor and I had to spend two weeks meticulously applying grout colorant to “fix” it.

What DIY Project are you most proud of?: The shelves in our living room made a great impact on the space, I can’t imagine the room without it. The frosted glass transoms turned out well too.

Biggest Indulgence: We spent a good deal reupholstering in leather the couch which had belonged to Chris’s mom in her bachelorette days. It was definitely worth it though, especially with all the pets!

Best advice: Buy only things you love, spend money on art, use IKEA wisely, throw things out.

Dream source: For me, its all about being cheap and hunting great things down. Don’t know what I’d do if I found them all in one place!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:

Furniture: DIY (vanity in bedroom, bed), Mid Century Furniture Warehouse (Barcelona chair, freeform coffee table), antique sales, family treasures (couch, cockpit chair), Office surplus store (filing cabinets and cafeteria chairs). The Bed: Chris made the bed for me years ago for Christmas; it’s a knock off of one we saw at DWR!

Appliances: All IKEA, to take advantage of their 20% discount!

Hardware: Baldwin for front door hardware, windows are Jeld-Wen, Danze faucet scored from a showroom sale. eBay and McMaster-Carr were also good sources.

Accessories: Alot of salvage from the house itself: both bathroom mirrors, clawfoot tub, office swivel chair, vanity chair and tabletop, enamel tub. The wallpaper in the bathrooms are both by Julia Rothman and available at Hygge and West.

Lighting: Rejuvenation, Schoolhouse Electric, Modern Fan Co.

Rugs and Carpets: Material Culture. Such a great place, check it out!

Tiles and Stone: Cheap penny rounds and mini-subway tiles from local supplier.

Flooring: Plywood finished with Benjamin Moore Super Spec epoxy paint in linen white.

Artwork: Mostly my own, with additional pieces by great Philly artists Drew Leshko, Amze Emmons, Brooke Hine and Zoe Strauss.

Paint: Cheapo White.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Erin & Chris!

Images: Kristen Lubbe

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