Lavish living spaces
A dramatic entrance and delicate touches give this row home a historic sweetness worth savoring.
Jealousy. That’s the feeling after a tour of the relic apartment of Sarah Paul, Karla Markwardt and Sarah Haldeman. The Temple sophomores pay only $1,200 a month plus utilities for a massive amount of space. It makes anyone wonder why he or she is dishing out so much cash to live in an Oxford apartment or a studio in Center City.
The four-story row home on 11th street is around 100 years old with white marble steps and tall wooden doors. The students live on the first two floors where the last tenant, an artist, renovated the apartment with unique design and pizzazz.
High ceilings, white walls, hard wood floors and tall front windows create a dramatic entrance to the living room. Paul loves the room because it’s where the girls keep their music and entertainment and work on art. The room is so big that for a party held earlier this year a band performed in its corner.
The open kitchen and dining room are separated by a quick switch from hard wood to scarlet red carpeting. The dining room and kitchen are mouth dropping. A spiral staircase swirls upstairs between the kitchen table and stove. A brick wall lines one side and windows let in sunlight from the other.
A back kitchen door opens into a yard and a glimpse of the community garden where neighborhood barbeques are held. Wooden cupboards form an “L” shape on the wall between a sleek metal refrigerator and black stove set in the corner. The room is calming, yet fun; cozy, yet minimalist.
The steps on the spiral staircase are carpeted with the same red carpet seen downstairs. The bathroom upstairs is a small box with a rubber ducky door handle and cheerful yellow walls.
The last, elevated sub-level is the shared bedroom of Markwardt and Paul. Markwardt loves the fact that this bedroom is just as large as the living room downstairs with more than enough room for two girls. Haldeman has her own room on the second floor and although a small space, she has compensated for size with her personalized decorations that give the room a fun artistic flair.
Close to 11th and Spring Garden streets, the roommates take either the Franklin shuttle or subway to class. When nice weather rolls around, they bike or walk 15 minutes to campus. The neighborhood may look a bit “sketchy,” Paul said, but the girls said that they have never felt unsafe. Still, they’re prepared for anything with barred windows and bolted doors.
Unfortunately, after just a one-year stay, the girls are moving on. Markwardt said that after May, it will no longer be “the three” but, “It’s a good first apartment.” That’s an understatement. As each girl moves on to study abroad or move in with other friends, any other apartment, at least in comparison, is doomed to be a disappointment.
– Jessica Pritchard
Intimate living with ‘Lafanza’
This out-of-the-ordinary space features private quarters and an unexpected greeter.
Imagine every time you enter your home you are greeted by a beautiful eight-foot tall woman named Lafanza.
For roommates Adam Lemire, Greg Charnock and Chris Thomas this is an everyday experience at their out-of-the-ordinary apartment at Eighth and Girard streets.
Lafanza is a large puppet that looks as if she belongs in a Mardi Gras parade. Beneath her huge exterior, a person could place her on top of his shoulders and wear her around like a costume. Lafanza, named by Charnock, was left at the apartment by its well-traveled owner.
The 1,800 square foot apartment was nothing but an open space when the three first moved in last summer except for a basement filled with an eclectic mix of items left by the owner and past tenants.
The apartment features wooden floors as well as exposed brick on the apartment’s walls.
For Lemire and Charnock, both junior architecture majors, the open space was just what they needed for a workspace. “We wanted to make something unique and fun and to design it ourselves and then build it,” Charnock said.
The process of constructing the inside of their apartment took them the first two weeks of school to complete.
All three built small bedrooms using various materials. They also built the rooms so that you could see through each like a window, looking from one end of the apartment to the other.
“We wanted our rooms smaller because we didn’t want to live in our bedrooms,” Charnock said.
The rooms vary in shape and size. Charnock’s room features triangular walls as well as doors that can shut for additional privacy.
Lemire’s room has one completely open wall and Thomas, a sophomore film and media arts major who produces claymation films, can turn his room into a small studio to produce such pictures.
The apartment feels like separate rooms, but without walls. The decor of the apartment is a mix of vintage and modern furniture, some of which was crafted by the roommates. The kitchen table was made from a door that Lemire found at his house in Connecticut.
Possible future plans for the apartment include adding a basketball hoop in the back alley, creating a backyard garden or, if they have the drive and time, rebuilding the look of the apartment into something entirely new this summer.
– Alex Yalch
Wet bar gone to the fishes
At this homemade watering hole, the fish is never out of water.
Think you can drink like a fish?
Vineil Mehta and two roommates in the Kardon-Atlantic Terminal at 1801 N. 10th St. decided to give the phrase a whole new meaning. In other words, the boys constructed a bar with a fish tank in the middle.
“Everything in this apartment was a drunk idea like ‘What if we did this, ahh, that would be insane!'” Mehta said.
When all was said and done the bar cost the three roommates about $600. The wood cost about $300, the mini refrigerator behind the bar about $100 and the 20-gallon fish tank in the middle $200.
The actual construction of the bar was done for free by a friend who studies architecture at Drexel University.
Another awesome addition to the apartment is a projector propped on the bar that faces an empty white wall. The guys use the projector to watch movies and television.
They especially enjoyed it when they hosted a Super Bowl party in their pad earlier this year. Mehta said that parties like this help them to pay for the things that make their place so original.
“When we throw parties we make our money back,” Mehta said. “It’s never a question of will we make our money back … we always make our money back.”
Mehta said that everything in the apartment is really just purchases of smart shopping. Bargain hunting allows the three roommates to make the place everything they want it to be.
Some of the posters and flags that hang on the walls have been gifts or giveaways; even one of the couches was free.
“We don’t just go out and buy something, we plan it out so everything is cost efficient,” he said.
Future plans for this bachelor pad? The guys are really hoping to put in a hot tub but after their landlord’s negative reaction to the fish tank they’re not sure the idea will ever fly.
In the meantime the guys are hanging out and enjoying their fabulous view of Center City.
The apartment is crammed with cool stuff, but Mehta’s favorite part of his sweet spot is something you can’t buy in a store.
He said his favorite part is “My roommates. You could have a sick apartment, but if your roommates aren’t cool, it’s not gonna work.”
– Amanda Reyes
Street corner living at new heights
An unconventional take on graffiti and art inspirations give this apartment an urban edge with class.
Empty spray paint cans and dismantled bike parts litter the floor beneath roads, SEPTA signs and walls covered with graffiti.
No, this isn’t a street corner that needs some attention from the Adopt-A-Highway program; it’s an apartment in the Kardon-Atlantic Terminal at 1801 N. 10th St. where two roommates have unconventionally turned their passions of biking and graffiti into fun and functional apartment decor. Graffiti art isn’t the most unheard of way to decorate an apartment, but how about graffiti supplies? In John Rodgers’ and Darian Whitfield’s seventh story apartment, milk crates holding dozens of empty paint cans and art supplies are stacked against the wall like shelves.
The space on top of the kitchen cabinets, where you might expect to see empty liquor bottles or beer can pyramids, is decorated with rows of spray paint bottles. Current projects and supplies are spread out on the living room floor and even though the window is open, the scent of paint lingers like a natural extension of the room’s visual elements.
The walls are decorated with Rodgers’ eclectic pieces of art, which range from simple pencil stencils of the human form to colorful, abstract graffiti canvases.
One of Rodgers’ favorites is a graffiti piece of a smiling skeleton dancing among bright stripes and splashes of color. A friend requested that he paint the skeleton, but Rodgers wanted to steer away from the morbid feeling that a skeleton image typically evoked.
“I just tried to make it as fruity and as happy as possible,” he said.
The roommates dislike public transportation and opt instead to bike around the city. Whitfield said that he is “literally obsessed with bikes.”
“I’ll get on the computer, spend five minutes on Facebook.com and an hour and a half on bike sites,” Whitfield said.
The roommates’ riding passion is reflected in their decoration as well. Two bikes, in varying states of assembly, hang on a rack as high as their full sized refrigerator. Philadelphia Management, the company that leases rooms in Kardon, banned bringing bikes in and out of the building, so the guys retired two bikes for decoration because they liked the feeling of having them close by.
A helmet hangs next to the bikes in the living room, but Whitfield admitted he doesn’t usually wear it. Still, like most of the other objects in the apartment, it makes an imaginative and surprisingly fitting decoration.
-Mary C. Schell