Chris & Caryn

Pittsburgh, PA | East Liberty

Chris & Caryn used an FHA 203k loan to transform a gutted early 1900s East Liberty historical rowhouse with no working utilities (or walls!) into a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind space they could never have imagined. It features a completely open 1st floor with modern finishes while preserving the home’s historical nuances, and restores the 2nd floor bedroom to a masterpiece of design and tranquility.

When Caryn and Chris began their house search, they fell in love with one of the first houses they saw. But after losing the bidding war, they were devastated. Their loss turned into a gain when their Realtor® showed them something they hadn’t considered: a completely gutted historical rowhouse in need of a serious renovation. After seeing the potential, the couple decided to move forward with their eyes set on the prize: a customized house with their own personal touch. 

Starting with only external walls, no heating or plumbing, no kitchen or bathrooms, Caryn and Chris transformed their house into a home over the next 7 months. Renovating was an exciting process for the engaged couple. Chris remembered, “We could not stay away! We would go over on a daily basis and see what was going on over there.”

The best part for them was their incredible bedroom.  It solidified their love for their home; beautiful bay windows, antique double doors, a walk-in closet, fireplace and a beautiful beam.  The light that filled the room and highlighted the details made their gorgeous master their favorite room in the house!

For future renovators, Chris and Caryn advise surrounding yourselves with a great team. “The people around us were so good at what they do, they made everything seem so easy.” From their Realtor®, Chris Mundie, who helped them recognize their renovation potential, to Essig Renovation & Design, the builders who made their vision come alive, and Jeff at PrimeLending, who was there to answer their questions and help them look into their financial future, they were surrounded by a dream team. Even during the rocky parts of the renovation, they had people there to lean on.

“After buying flooring and realizing that the wood varied in width, we had to measure each board and sort them into piles – a much less fun version of Jenga!” Instead of looking at their situation as a grueling task, they flipped it into an opportunity to involve their friends and family in their journey and had a “sorting party” which led to everyone feeling more invested and connected to their new home.

Chris and Caryn stress the value of completing a renovation. “We were spoiled. Most people’s first house is temporary, a starter house, but we got to move into a new home with everything exactly how we wanted. Through the renovation, we could do that without spending the premium to get there.” What started out as a fun project transformed into a smart financial choice in the long run.

We got to move into a new home with everything exactly how we wanted.

Although they had been stopping by to see the house at every phase, the first time they walked into their new home completed was special to them. They got married at the end of September and moved in as soon as they returned from their honeymoon. The newlyweds were happy with their decision, and Caryn’s feelings were, “I remember thinking over and over again ‘I can’t believe we get to live here!’”