A Beautiful Vintage-Filled Studio Apartment in a Former Church

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Beautiful Vintage-Filled Studio Apartment in a Former Church

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Deanna Leone, Jessie Mademann (and Thurston & Shermie the cats)
Location: Fishtown, Philadelphia
Size: Large Loft Studio (don’t know the square foot)
Years Lived In: 2.5 years, renting

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Fishtown is one of Philadelphia’s many booming neighborhoods, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a unique (and affordable!) home in the area. When you’re as creative as Jessie and Deanna, settling for a typical white-wall one-bedroom isn’t the ideal. The two were thrilled when a photographer friend of theirs had a vacant loft in his restored and renovated Fishtown church. What’s better than 15-foot windows, stained glass, and original pews throughout your home to give a sense of irreplaceable character?

Editor’s note: Flip through this unique home’s house tour photos again for ideas on how to divide a big open space into smaller, cozy areas.

Two years ago they moved in and quickly adorned the space with their unmatched style. Jessie, a graphic designer for True Hand Society, has hand-painted signs and motorcycle memorabilia sprinkled throughout the space as design inspiration. Deanna, a social media-guru at a spirits-only ad agency, thrifts and antiques like it’s nobody’s business. In one glance, you’ll find a salt lamp, a weathered trunk and a stunningly intricate peacock chair. The two together have created a warm and inviting space through objects that carry their stories. Oh, and their two curious cats, Thurston and Shermie, make for comedic relief.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Very eclectic. It ranges anywhere from 1960s Danish Modern, to ’70s flower child, to modern day vintage industrial. Nearly everything in our home is second-hand, and we buy what we like without worrying about how it will fit in with the rest.

Inspiration: Vintage log cabin meets industrial salvage meets mid-century clean. And throw in all the big leafy plants.

Favorite Element: The stained-glass window. The church was built in the later 1800s, and every single window in the rectory (where our apartment resides) was damaged prior to renovation. The owner salvaged just one, and I love the colorful light it lends to that corner.

Biggest Challenge: It’s always been layout. We’ve got a ton of space, but a real lack of division. The open floor plan of this “studio” is both a blessing and a curse. We’re still trying to get a hold on how to make separate spaces without cutting them off from the rest of the apartment or disrupting the flow. Second to that would be storage – with only one closet and no overhead storage in the kitchen, we’ve had to get pretty clever.

What Friends Say: They’re always in awe at the sheer size of the space. It’s very unique in a city loaded with row homes. Next comes the windows.

Biggest Embarrassment: Cat hair! No matter how much we brush them, sweep, or vacuum, there is always a stray fur ball. The black rug in the “living room” space is like a magnet for the stuff.

Proudest DIY: I love the nook where the safe is. While the safe is part of the space, we’ve used it to house our home bar, and illuminated it with a ’70s pendant lamp, lighting up a metal sculpture we got from Jessie’s grandmother. It’s super warm and inviting.

Biggest Indulgence: Our plants. We’ve taken advantage of the natural light in a big way. The giant taro plant next to the safe was a birthday gift from Jessie. It’s practically a piece of furniture!

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to change things. Buy what you love.

Dream Sources: I’d love to just do a big road trip, hitting the biggest antique and flea markets on the east coast – like a treasure hunt!


Coat Hooks – Antiqued
Coat Rack – JINXED
Shoe Rack – Target

Large Rug – Gifted from a friend
Table – Made by Jessie’s great uncle
Couch – Antiqued
Arm Chair – Gifted from a friend
Metal Rocker – Antiqued
American Flag – Antiqued
Rustic table – Old School Finds
Dresser and Armoire – Handed down from Jessie’s mother
Peacock Chair – Craigslist
Rug- eBay
Safe – original to the space

Table — IKEA
Rug – eBay
Nook Bench and Pendant Lamp – Came with the space
Industrial Chairs — Target

Desk – Hand made
Eames-Inspired Chair – HomeGoods
Locker – Gifted from a friend

Bed — IKEA
Cowhide Rug – IKEA
Floor Lamp – Antiqued
Side Tables – AC Moore Crates
Chest – Antiqued
Locker – Flea Market find
Display Case – Handed down from Jessie’s Mother
Throw Blanket – Gifted from Jessie’s Grandmother

Hand towels, Mats, and Towel Basket all from HomeGoods
Storage Crate – Trash Picked

Thanks, Jessie and Deanna!

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