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In The Crafted Life blogger’s East Passyunk home, colors abound

DIY blogger Rachel Smith uses her trademark style to brighten her simple apartment

DIY blogger Rachel Smith owes her new life in Philadelphia to a night at a karaoke bar on East Passyunk Avenue. She says, “Fun little fact about me: I moved here based off my experience at the Adobe Cafe.”

That life-changing experience took place two years ago during a girls’ trip to Philly. In that time, Smith packed up an air mattress, one dresser, and a couch and moved across country from Portland, Oregon to the City of Brotherly Love. She then signed a lease at the first one-bedroom apartment she saw in the East Passyunk neighborhood, located not far from the bar.

“It was a very good experience for me,” she says with her infectious laugh.

Smith is the hot-pink haired brains behind the lifestyle blog The Crafted Life. In her time before Philly, she ran a 70- to 80-hour-a-week job in education in Portland, and later worked for a startup company in San Francisco. There, in the Golden City, is where she fell in love with all things colorful.

“That’s where I got used to the pink houses,” Smith says. “Everything was a dreamy pastel all the time. When I was in Portland, it was just all gray. I started color hunting in the world around me and realized that I could just bring it into my daily life.”

To build her own desk and shelving units, Smith bought supplies from Home Depot, totaling $215. The desk chair and rug are from West Elm. The ceramic plant holder is from Modernica.

When she arrived in Philly, now running her blog full-time, Smith didn’t expect to find one of those colorful San Francisco houses in a brick rowhouse city. Instead, she settled on a corner, brick home in the neighborhood that had been recently renovated and turned into a one-bedroom apartment.

It was simple, with white walls, hardwood floors, a drab concrete patio. But Smith knew she could spruce up the apartment with her trademark colorful flair. “There’s not so much color here in Philly, so I’m trying to bring it into my home.”

“The vibes are very different here from Portland. I go to the post office and grandmothers stop and talk to me about my hair. I love it so much.”
Photo by Mary Costa

She first got to work on her office space. “It was the first thing I put up because I work from home and needed a desk,” she says. Using her DIY skills, she stocked up on plywood and brackets at Home Depot and installed a set of open shelves. To add some color to her workspace, she spray-painted the brackets in various colors of the rainbow.

Her office also doubles as her bedroom, although Smith says she doesn’t mind it now that she shares a studio space in Fishtown.

In Smith’s living room, also awash in white with some crown molding, a navy blue West Elm couch adds a big pop of color. Meanwhile, a large gallery wall above the couch displays more colorful framed prints.

One of her pro tips for setting up a gallery wall? Photoshop. “I basically did a mockup in Photoshop. I also knew that if I bought a piece here and there, I would never make the gallery wall, so I did it all at once.”

Photo by Heidi’s Bridge

Top right: The bedframe is from West Elm. Bottom: Smith had local artist Philly Love Notes place a heart in the location of Adobe Cafe, where she decided to move to Philly. The bar cart is from Wayfair.

Two years after moving to Philly, Smith says her home is still consistently changing. “I’m still working on it, because I always feel like I have to redo something,” she says. That includes the kitchen. Some hot-pink chairs that match Smith’s hair color serve as the room’s main source of color, but she’s still figuring out ways to make it her own.

Top left: Lamp, table and chairs are from West Elm. Pink chairs are from All Modern. Top right: Gallery wall prints are from Minted. Lamp, sofa, and rug are from West Elm. Floral pillows are from Anthropologie. Bottom (courtesy of Rachel Smith): The patio table is from Target. All other furnishings are from Lowe’s.

But for now, the blogger says she’s still falling in love with Philly and its people. “Honestly,” she says, “it’s treated me so well, probably better than any other city I’ve lived in.”

And two years later, she’s still having fun finding and bringing color to the brick-laden city. “I’m a bit of a colorful minimalist—I think a little bit goes a long way,” Smith says. With another laugh, she says, “I try not to be gaudy, but a little gaudy is a nice, too.”

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