A 1800s Philadelphia House Has Some of the Best Exposed Beams
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Name: Zach, Hugh, Cheeto (cat), Cooper (dog), Chickens! (4, one named Penelope)
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1550 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
Zach and Hugh, the “interior design enthusiasts, home renovation-attempters, and backyard chicken dads” who run the popular blog and Instagram account This Yunky House, explain that their house-buying mission first started in Fishtown and the neighboring area, but they were “quickly inundated with high prices for tiny homes with no yard space” and so had to expand their search area. This 1800s-era house located in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood was originally out of the couple’s budget. But after going under and out of contract, it went back on the market at a lower price that was in their budget. “After one walk-through, we knew it was the home for us.”
Though the couple reports that the house had been “semi-flipped” before their purchase, it thankfully still had lots of original architectural charm, like the wide-plank hardwood floors that might be their favorite feature. “With most of our projects, our aim has been to re-inject that historic character back into the house,” they explain. “We’ve repainted, put in new doors, restored an old mantel, and created a built-in bookcase around the fireplace, revamped the kitchen almost entirely (including tearing out the ceiling to expose the beautiful floorboards and beams underneath), added beams back into our primary bedroom’s loft space, and more.”
A big bonus to buying this house was their big backyard, which they’ve designed with as much care and creativity as the interior. “We’ve also started over completely with the backyard: tearing everything out, adding new fencing, sod, raised beds, AND Hugh built our chicken coop (yes, we have four lovely feathered friends living with us in the city),” explains Zach. “It has all been a labor of love, which will probably be never-ending for as long as we live here, but we all-around adore our home and feel incredibly fortunate that we took a chance on it.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: A little bit rustic/farmhouse/colonial (Hugh grew up in an 1800s farmhouse in Virginia), a smidge Southwestern (I’m from San Antonio, Texas), and a bit eclectic.
Inspiration: We try to take bits and pieces of things we love and incorporate them into our home. I wouldn’t say it’s maximalist, but it’s certainly not minimalist. We’re inspired by Philadelphia’s historic architecture and colonial homes, indoor jungles, vintage art, and more. A few other accounts we love in particular are Vestige Home and Jersey Ice Cream Co., both of which do a lot of work in the Philly area.
Favorite Element: The original floors — they’re worn, weird, and wonderful.
Biggest Challenge: First off would probably be the trinity staircase — moving in ANY furniture is a challenge with those, as many fellow Philadelphians can attest to. After that, it would probably be the backyard. I can say for certain it hadn’t been touched in decades, and was a rusted, weed-infested jungle — and now, it’s essentially the complete opposite.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen ceiling project. We had a leak a few months ago from the second floor bathroom, which caused us to take a look behind one of the lights in the kitchen. When we removed it, we saw a glimpse of one of the original beams. We surmised that they might all be intact under layers of drywall new and old, but we really took a chance on it. With the help of Hugh’s parents, we were able to demo all of that, expose said beams and floorboards, and install new track and bar lighting. It gave us about a foot of extra space in the kitchen and is now really a visual statement for the entire downstairs.
Biggest Indulgence: Plants and art. We can never get enough. It’s so hard to deny something that you see and just know is something special (even if you might not have a place for it).
Best Advice: Trust your eye and your instinct. I feel like we’re at a very interesting, post-modern moment in interior design and decorating — almost everything can be considered “in” and we don’t have to be defined by one particular aesthetic or style anymore.
What’s your best home secret? Always listen to your partner when he says a project is going to be difficult! (JK, but not really).
On another note, we try to be as resourceful with our purchases as possible, as well as focusing on reusable and eco-friendly products. Most of our art and plenty of our furniture is thrifted/vintage, we compost all of our food waste that we can to use in the garden, and we use biodegradable/refillable cleaning products, just to name a few things.
Regarding the Chickens: We’re fortunate to have a pretty large backyard in the city. We picked our chickens up from Tractor Supply, and Hugh built the coop himself. We share eggs with all of our neighbors, too! They’re friendly and affectionate, and great with both our dog and our cat. There have been a lot of grassroots efforts to legalize hens in Philadelphia. The idea is that hens are friendly, easy to keep, low maintenance, and don’t cause any disturbances like roosters.
PAINT & COLORS
- Walls — Sherwin-Williams “Olympus White”
- Lower cabinets/mantel — Sherwin-Williams “Wall Street”
- Dresser — Behr “Equestrian Green”
- Wallpaper in the office — Sourced from Hovia (previously MuralsWallpaper.com)
- Sofa — Napa Sectional from Poly and Bark
- Rug — 8 x 10 Ademi Paprika rug from Ruggable
- Geometric Side Table — Target
- Side table to the right — Wobbly Knob Wood Co on Etsy
- Chandelier — Amazon and we spray painted it an antique brass color, and the ceiling medallion is from Home Depot
- Liquor cabinet — Urban Burb Furniture here in Manayunk
- Yellow chair — A consignment store that doesn’t exist in Manayunk anymore
- Coffee table — Hand tooled, Peruvian leather table and we got it at Rowhouse Antiques on Main Street. (4353 Main Street; she doesn’t seem to have a website/social media)
- For the gallery wall, we’ve gotten pieces from all over. The man in the center is from Jinxed in Fishtown, and a few other pieces are from there, too. A few of the old Philly photos/art are from Jules Goldman Books and Antiques in Old City, and we’ve gotten quite a bit in Virginia when we go down to visit Hugh’s family.
- Cabinet Hardware — Pottery Barn
- Track lighting — Hampton Bay and we got them at Home Depot
- Rug — Overstock
- Bar Stools — Overstock
- Bar Pendant Lighting — Voronio I from Tala
- Arne bed room — West Elm
- Bench — from West Elm
- Nightstands — Wobbly Knob Wood Co on Etsy
- Duvet — Anthropologie
- Pillows — Urban outfitters Home
- Artwork — Society6
- Fishtown print on the right — https://halfandathird.com/
- The Manayunk print on the right we got from Urban Burb Furniture in Manayunk
- We made the shelf above the bed with reclaimed wood and hardware from Home Depot
- The small shelves with plants — Urban Outfitters Home and Anthropologie
- Plants we’ve purchased are from all over — Hardware stores, Safa in Manayunk, Field in Fishtown, Greensgrow Farms in Fishtown/East Kensington, and beyond.
- Platform bed — Coaster Furniture
- Bookshelf — IKEA
- Large rug under the bed — IKEA
- Wall Sconces — Amazon Home
- Nightstands — Wobbly Knob Wood Co on Etsy
- The rug in the reading nook — Jinxed
- The peach chair — Jinxed as well
- Duvet on the bed — Urban Outfitters home
- The throw pillows — Poly and Bark
- The artwork in the nook — The Philly front door photos are ones I took myself, the water color is from River Roads Print Shop (local woman owned printing business in South Philly, another is a signed Ray LaMontagne tour poster we got at one of his shows, and another print from IamFy!
- The dresser Hugh got for free years ago — It was originally the bare wood, then it was whitewashed, and recently we made it over with the green paint (“Equestrian Green” from Behr)
- The mirror wall — These are from all over. We were inspired by @fahnestockcollective on Instagram, a historic home/rental in Lancaster that had a mirror wall in a stairwell and we wanted to create our own version of it.
- Small sofa — West elm
- Desk — West elm
- Map wallpaper — Hovia
- The bench is an antique Hugh found I believe in Virginia
Thanks Zach and Hugh!
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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