Sarah Buys a House chronicles Sarah DeGiorgis' journey along the road to becoming a property owner in West Philadelphia. If you have any tips or questions for Sarah, ping our tipline: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve made some strides since having a realtor break into a house for me with a coat hanger. I have a buyer’s agent who I like and trust. (Imagine!) When I told her I was looking for something old and in need of updates but still in just about move-in condition she immediately suggested this one.
I had seen this house listed but had overlooked it because?well, the outside is painted a hideous shade of orange. Like Flyers orange, which is pretty much the color of a traffic cone. The inside is almost entirely robin’s egg blue from floor to ceiling and, as a finishing touch, the floor is covered with mismatched stick-on tile. Nice! But if you overlook the colors and general tackiness, there are some really nice little details.
First up: decorative mantle. This mantle is covered in about 1,000 coats of paint and those little teeth along the top (technical term, obviously) need some repairing but I still think it’s charming. Just imagine it in a different color (against a different color) with maybe a third color to highlight the garlands across the top – cute! And mantles are awesome even without a working fireplace. Where else to display your Oscars?
Next we have an oversized window to?a brick wall. Okay, so it’s a little strange BUT honestly of the million other things you could be looking out on in this city (trash pile, the street, an alley with, uh, more trash) a nice old brick wall isn’t so bad. As you can kind of tell from the door and the strategically placed stove, that is a really big window. I assume it would be pretty expensive to replace, actually, since it seems to be a non-standard size and I’m guessing is original to the house – I peeked inside and saw an old chain, meaning it was before the spring-loaded windows most houses are equipped with today.
Perhaps you need a bit of extra storage under the stairs? Or maybe you have a hobbit friend who's looking for a new home? This house has you covered. So cute!
The stairs are quite beautiful. I love the way they turn, I love the banister and I love the weird little window for some reason covered by a pink curtain. Stairs are pretty important to me – you use them multiple times each day! – and for some reason I’m always drawn to staircases that turn. Landings! Landings with windows! I have learned my lesson with spiral staircases, though: they’re adorable until you try to move your queen-sized mattress up to the third floor, fail, and end up buying the most uncomfortable bed you’ve ever slept in for two years at the South Philly IKEA. These stairs, though, would never do such a thing.
Something else that I really liked about this house were all the skylights. Skylights strike me as something more modern but these look like they are original to the house, which I’m guessing purely on the fact that they have the same trim as all the doors and windows. There are three total; this is the first you see from the stairs. Skylights are so nice for adding light and it kind of makes you feel like you’re outside, or at least closer to the outdoors. But then again, maybe that’s just the outdoor light fixture that’s giving you that feeling.
Here’s the piece de resistance: a built-in closet! Look, the trim on the top even matches the mantle downstairs. Those two drawers on the bottom open and the mirror is in pretty good shape. The doors are missing but I’m sure you could find replacements. I didn’t even know that built-in things like this were an option until I moved to Chicago the summer after freshman year in college and lived in the second floor of an old house. One entire wall of the living room was an intricate built-in bookshelf with cabinets and drawers carvings and it was just beautiful. Ever since then I’ve told myself that I’d like a house with something like that and this fits the bill quite nicely.
This house was easily the best I’d seen and it continued to grow on me—the stairs in particular. Something about how they turn as they get to the living room is really inviting and warm, and a nice thing to see when you first walk in. Add to that the fact that it has everything else I want: front porch, nice back yard, full finished basement, vestibule entry – well, I’m glad I overlooked the horrid color and flooring choices. Plus, the house is in the right neighborhood for me and is less than $150,000. Now: to make an offer?
All photos on this page by Laura Kicey