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Photography by Chloe Berk

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Vintage Finds Bring Historic Character to Point Breeze Home

The former owners of this Point Breeze home had already done the renovations. It was this family's job to turn it into a home of their own.

Colleen Casey couldn’t believe it when her parents said they were getting rid of a pair of chairs from her childhood home. Sure, the fabric was in rough shape, and they were pretty old, but it wasn’t anything a little upholstering couldn’t fix. After buying some African mud cloth and giving the arm chairs a makeover, they now sit pretty in Colleen's Point Breeze row home.

That’s how the story of a lot of the furniture and pieces in the Casey’s home turn out: Find old locker. Put a little elbow grease into it. Hello, new coat closet.

"I really like items with a history," she says.

Colleen lives in her two-bedroom, two-bath home in Point Breeze with her husband Erik, two-year-old daughter Adeline, and two dogs. But it took awhile for the family to find a home in Philly in the right neighborhood. At the time, the couple was renting in Graduate Hospital, where many of their friends also lived. But even some four years years ago, home values had begun to reach levels unattainable for Colleen and Erik.

After considering neighborhoods like Fishtown, a recently renovated home in Point Breeze popped up. The owners at the time had given the row home complete makeover—a good one, at that.

"It was one of the few renovated homes we looked at that seemed well-thought out," says Colleen. "We just weren't finding the same thing in Graduate Hospital."


The hard part, says Colleen, was giving the basically brand new home some of that historic character Colleen and Erik longed for. That’s where all of the hand-me-downs and rummaging around furniture warehouses and thrift stores around Philadelphia paid off.

Take the coffee table in the living room, for example. It’s a Pottery Barn table that Casey had eyed online for awhile, but the price tag turned her off. Then, she spotted it at ReStore, Habitat for Humanity's discounted home goods store, for $50.

The saleswoman told me that it came from Will Smith’s estate. I don’t know if it’s true, but either way, it’s here now.

Then, there's the locker they found at Philadelphia Salvage Company, which they now use as a coat closet. The school chairs next to it is a find from Material Culture, and the gold mirror above was Colleen's great grandparent's.

But while the first floor features most of the family heirlooms and vintage finds, the family's favorite room in the house is Adeline's. "The dresser was thrifted but all of the other furniture is new," says Colleen.

The bedroom, which has access to a roof deck big enough for a small kiddie pool, has gray-painted walls that are

We like the mix of old and new pieces in our home with a touch of industrial items

offset by colorful toys and a mesmerizing light fixture. If it looks like something out of a wedding reception, that’s because it is.

The light is a remnant of the Casey’s wedding. Colleen, who has a background in art education, created the decorations out of hundreds of coffee filters. The mobile above Adeline’s crib is also a DIY project, made out of fabric used during the wedding, too.

While the family had hoped to live in Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze has been a pleasant surprise for the family. "We're lucky that we've always felt very welcome by our neighbors and that all of the kids on the street can play together," says Colleen.

And soon, the trio will become a quartet, so there are plans to add an addition to the home to make room for the expanding family. "We plan to be here for awhile," says Colleen. "It's a nice foundation for the city."

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