Occupation: Hair salon owner.
Style: 1,900-square-foot loft.
With so many people looking to live near the heart of Philadelphia, and little open space on which to construct new housing, countless older buildings have been converted into living spaces. One of the most imaginative conversions can be found in Manayunk, where an old church has been transformed into condominiums. A quick tour of Frank and Heather Cipriotti's magnificent loft space in what was once the front of the church shows the transformation was a stunning success.
When you were shopping for a home, were you looking for a unique space?
"Honestly, we weren't. I just happened to be walking by here and I saw a sign that said, 'heavenly place to live.' A friend of mine had lived in a church, and I always thought that was cool. I think of it as the sort of place a rock star would live. It's a unique, one-of-a-kind home. It takes a certain kind of person to live in a place like this."
Was the space still under construction when you purchased it?
"It was in the final phases of being built. The kitchen and bathrooms weren't in yet, which actually worked to our favor. It allowed me to design the kitchen and bathrooms. I could pick out the kind of tile I wanted, for instance, and the toilets also."
Tell me about your walk-in closet.
"I watch MTV Cribs a lot, and I wanted to have a rock star's closet. And every rock star has a chandelier in their closet. It was originally the second bedroom. That's how I had room to put an island in the closet."
Besides wanting a closet that would make Rod Stewart envious, did you do the conversion because storage space is tight?
"Yes. Heather and I have more clothes than you can possibly imagine, and when I first looked around I saw that the lack of storage space was going to be a big problem."
You also did some work on the bathroom?
"We took out the tub and put in this huge shower with showerheads at either end. The sink was hand-painted in Morocco."
With a new baby, is space tight?
"It is a little. We want to buy the condo next door, and then take down the wall between the two."
If that doesn't work out, will you convert the walk-in closet back to a bedroom?
"No. That was expensive to do. This place is perfect for a single couple, but with the baby we really need more space."
Are there any drawbacks to living in a space that was initially built for another purpose?
"The only problem is the sound. It sort of has an echo. For instance you can hear the TV that's in the living room better upstairs in the loft than you can down here."
What's your favorite thing about living here?
"I like the huge stained glass window. When I'm here I feel as if I'm in the hands of God."
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