A Small Sunny Condo Shows How to Create an Airy Respite from the Real World
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Name: Aivi (like the plant), Muggle husband (Jeremy), and Queen of Everything (Luna, our giant floppy-eared Yorkie)
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type of home: Condo apartment
Size: 904 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We are two pathologists (non-timelord doctors who study disease and death) with an affinity for everything vibrant, vivacious, and a touch whimsical. Because work can get a bit grim, we wanted our home to be an airy, sunlit respite from the real world, if you will. We purchased this home at the start of our residency training, and we repainted it from a jarring pink and brown to the alabaster white that it is now. The choice was intentional: we wanted the house to feel more open and amplify the natural light. The light’s also been really useful in allowing us to cultivate a number of plants and trees that, alas, are not included in my photo entry, given the photo limit. My husband is an avid hobbyist gardener, so we have the standard orchids, succulents, and cacti liberally scattered around our place, but he’s also currently growing grapefruit, bell peppers, a massive fiddle-leaf fig tree, an olive tree, and not one but two Meyer lemon trees—now with lemons (!!).
Moreover, re-painting our house gave it a more curated, museum-like feel: Every piece of furniture, every plant, every piece of decor is on display like in a museum, but not the stuffy kind—more the fun, “please touch” kind. Like magpies, we’ve collected a number of tchotchkes, artwork, and even furniture through our traveling, hiking trips, attending auctions, or simply looking in the Philly trash. Given our space constraints, we often rotate through our decor to keep it current. We are also intentional with what we keep and display; everything in our home from the Russian nesting doll collection to the massive cast iron bed frame has a story or a fond memory attached to it.
Lastly, we are both bookish-types. We like big books, and we cannot lie. Incorporating book storage into our home design was imperative. Besides built-in bookshelves, we really loved the look of floating bookshelves so we utilized that to frame our bed, which also doubles as a nightstand. Speaking of books, there is a particular book series which-must-not-be-named of which I am a massive fan—my muggle husband not so much. (In fact, you’re looking at an HP trivia champion.) I’ve actually accumulated a good number of magically related household items and have made it my mission to infuse a bit of covert magic into every room.
Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Sunlit, cultivated, colorfully curated, bookish, and wizardly (my husband wants to limit the “HP” lingo)
What is your favorite room and why? Our bedroom. It used to be our least favorite room because, while collected and quirky, it didn’t feet cohesive. At this point, we had an oil painting, which I had haggled for at an outdoor flea market, an IKEA dresser from my medical school dorm days, a vintage mirror, and a gem of a craigslist find—our antique French-style bergere reading chair. It wasn’t until we boldly—and quite naively—decided to wallpaper one of our bedroom walls did the space start coming together. We fell in love with a floral patterned wallpaper made by Lottas Trad that reminded me, a neuropathologist, of branching dendrites in neurons. Somehow, we managed to not only keep our marriage intact after wallpapering it ourselves but also tie the space all together.
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My husband recently found a mid-century style mirror in the trash, so we cleaned it and used it in our entryway to create an illusion of larger space.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Include items that you love, meaningful pieces that you’ve collected, whether through traveling, Craigslist, or dumpster diving. I think it can feel a bit piece-meal but in totality it’s what creates a home. It’s a reflection of your personality, in a way. Also, give it time. Sometimes a space takes time to build and layer.
This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.