A 370-Square-Foot Carriage House Is an Incredibly One-of-a-Kind Home for a Creative Couple

published Jun 12, 2018

A 370-Square-Foot Carriage House Is an Incredibly One-of-a-Kind Home for a Creative Couple

published Jun 12, 2018
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Square feet
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Name: Kristen and John Burdumy
Location: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Size: 370 square feet (plus a loft)
Years Lived In: 3 years, renting

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Kristen and John met in college seven years ago when they were both pursuing art degrees and quickly discovered a shared appreciation: The duo would spend their free time going antique hunting or making things together. Later, after they got married, they embarked on a cross-country road trip for their honeymoon in a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon, named Penny. Upon their return, they lived in John’s uncle Adam’s home (also featured on Apartment Therapy) for almost five months, before looking for a real place to settle. They had fallen in love with Kennett Square—a small town an hour’s drive from Philadelphia (and the mushroom capital of the world)—and the people in it. So when a friend sent them a listing for this carriage house for rent, the decision was easy. They’re going on their third year of living there and have no plans on leaving this unique location any time soon.

Kristen works at Terrain designing personal flowers and installations for weddings and events, as well as residential plantings and decor for the holidays. “It feels really good to do something creative and different every week—I have learned so much from my bosses Matt and Katie,” she says.

John works as a photographer at an auction house in Downingtown, and also does some real estate photography on the side. He slings coffee at Philter a day or two a week and also has a leather company called JRBurd, and all the products are made right at his little desk in their house. (You can find his goods at various markets and at State and Union in Kennett). This is clearly a home that is inspiring to a couple of creatives.

It’s also a home they’ve learned to share with others. “With John being so present in town working with Philter we have made a lot of great connections and have been able to get involved with a few of the First Friday events here that involve a ton of people coming through our house as an art tour,” says Kristen.

The only thing cuter than this small carriage house is the couple’s dog, Olive, who’s about a year and a half old. They adopted her through Stray Network Rescue, who rescue dogs specifically from the South and bring them up to Pennsylvania! She’s a Plott Hound, which is a pretty not-well-known breed and is the greatest dog ever. If she could spend her whole life sleeping in bed, she would. But in her defense, with a bedroom as lovely as the one in this carriage house, who wouldn’t want to?

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy log cabin falls in love with a vintage schoolhouse and has a baby that sells books and ephemera and cameras and taxidermy?

Inspiration: John and I both had a very collector/organized clutter-type style separately, and over the years it has evolved into a little more of a “curated” collection. This space, although small, I think lends itself to this type of style. I think if we had gone a more simplistic and modern route it would have looked silly. Wherever we live next I think our style will adapt and change to the environment there also. John’s uncle Adam’s house is a pretty big inspiration across the board, too.

Favorite Element: I think the high ceilings are a pretty big deal in this house— without them it would feel extra claustrophobic.

Biggest Challenge: There are no closets and minimal storage space so it is really hard to hide extra things—we have done well with multi-use pieces but sometimes clothes and stuff can pile up because we don’t have much space to put them.

Our kitchen being so small was a big challenge at first, but the hutch really offers a lot of storage space and an extra surface. Finding that old work desk was huge too—we literally use it for everything, but when cooking/entertaining I am especially grateful for it.

Because we live a closet-less life, it’s really all about the bigger furniture pieces that can be used for multiple purposes. I also use a lot of small wooden crates, like you could get at Wal-Mart or Michael’s or something, to keep things semi-organized in cabinets. My favorite place I’ve used them is actually inside my refrigerator for veggie organization.

What Friends Say: People always comment that they could spend hours looking at stuff in our house… most people are used to it by now, but we’ve had a few art tours come through our house and it’s definitely funny to hear what strangers have to say when they don’t realize we’re right behind them.

Biggest Embarrassment: We aren’t really embarrassed by anything here—we embrace the quirkiness. You just have to accept that it’s an old place and some things aren’t going to be perfect.

Proudest DIY: Our bookshelf! We had planned on building one with pipes and had everything planned to a T, but once we got to the store we realized how expensive it was going to be with custom cutting, so John quickly planned out this one out of 1 x 4s and L brackets. I feel like it suits the space so much better than the other idea would have—it feels like it’s always been there.

Biggest Indulgence: Vintage knick-knacks and ephemera… and books.

Best Advice: If you want something specific you can probably make a cooler version yourself or find something that’s old and cool instead (auctions, yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and people’s trash is where it’s at.)


Manufacturer — Came with the house

Hutch — Craigslist find, repainted and wood added to back to look like a faux wall
Spice Shelf — DIY
Dish Drainer — IKEA
Tiffany Lamp in Kitchen: Came with the house
Breadbox — Goodwill

Table — From a closed school in Philadelphia
Window Shelf — DIY
Pendant Light — Target
Stools — IKEA

Large Bookshelf — DIY
Most of the books are from Macaluso Books in Kennett
Small Bookshelf — Hand-me-down from Kristen’s family, made by her grampy
Loveseat — IKEA
TV Stand — Trash picked by John and repainted
Record Player Stand – Goodwill
Hope Chest — Hand-me-down from Kristen’s family
Map — From a closed school in Philadelphia
Crocheted Blanket — Thrift store
Velvet Gold Pillow — IKEA
Tassel Pillow — Target
Large Format Camera — A gift from John’s uncle Adam
Dog Bed — DIY
Blue Glass Lamp — Goodwill
Silhouette pictures. John and I made these in our first year of dating, the silhouettes are of us!

Desk — Hand-me-down from John’s family
Arts and Crafts-Style Lamp — Gift from John’s uncle Michael (unmarked)
Desk chair — Sikes banker’s chair, hand-me-down
Sewing Table Desk — Singer cast iron base from antique store, DIY top
Green Dresser — Hand-me-down from Kristen’s family (survived a house fire!)
We got our Philadelphia pennant from Fresh Vintage — The owner used to have a little storefront at an orchard nearby that we always used to go to when we first started dating. Since then he has moved to a spot in Kennett called WorKS that is a collaborative makers/vintage sellers space (he also is usually always at Clover markets in the Philadelphia area).
“Human body” piece on wall — From a closed school in Philadelphia

Sconce — Urban Outfitters
Sheets — Target
Throw Pillow — Target
Throw Blanket — Target
Chair — Yard sale
Wreath — Made by Kristen
Dresser — Hand-me-down from Kristen’s family
Storage Boxes — DIY School
Desk — Goodwill
Baskets — The woven basket is from HomeGoods and the metal basket with the Pendleton Blanket in it is from an abandoned school! John and I found a bunch of these rusty baskets and ended up using them in our wedding with floral arrangements in them

Thanks, Kristen and John!

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