In a converted shoe factory loft from the turn of the century, Emma Fried-Cassorla and James Healy make a 600-square-foot studio in the Callowhill neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA their home. James, an ex-jet engine engineer turned web developer, had been living in the flat for a while before he and Emma, an ex-neuroscientist and now communications manager for the Delaware River Waterfront, decided to move in together. Before this apartment, James lived a pared-down life on a 50-foot sailboat for almost two years. The couple wavered back and forth about living in the studio together but decided to try it; the two walls of windows and amazing light meant that no other spaces could compare, even if they were bigger.
When Emma moved in, the place was decidedly spartan. James had built the Murphy bed (which they try to put up every morning so as not to feel like they’re cooking in their bedroom). All of James’ stuff remains, including the giant Stormtrooper decal. Emma brought a lot of the furniture with her, like the chairs, rug, and dining room set. Since then, they’ve been adding local Philly art and plants that thrive in the light. Two walls of windows means less hanging (hence the clustered gallery wall), but lots of sunlight. In order to make the small studio work for two people, the pair have gotten creative. James ceded the closet to Emma and moved his wardrobe into a small back room that houses the washer, dryer, and hot water heater. He also built a table to fit the nook for when someone requires quiet time in which to work.
Emma, who runs a blog called Philly Love Notes highlighting the wonderful things about Philadelphia as written by residents, also makes custom lasercut maps based off hand-papercuts she makes in the space. Having a corner studio means that they live in a bit of a bubble. Emma keeps the windows open as much as possible, especially for the sunrise, but people can see in. On the other hand, they can watch people walking and driving by, and best of all, the view looks right out onto what will be Philadelphia’s future Rail Park. Emma adores many things about this loft apartment — the natural light that wakes her up every morning, learning to live with less, and most of all, making a relationship work in such a small space. —Annie