This Home's Style Is 'Psychedelic Grandma,' and It Works

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By Hunker / Published by Hunker

This Home's Style Is 'Psychedelic Grandma,' and It Works originally appeared on Hunker.

Who: Krista Freibaum, co-owner, Serious Business PR and Ben DeGaetano, gardener 

Where: Lancaster, Pennsylvania 

Style: Maximalist Victorian

Born and raised in historic Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Krista Freibaum hardly expected to be living there as an adult, nor to marry someone from her hometown. But that’s exactly what happened. After a dozen years in New York City and one in Los Angeles, Freibaum moved to Lancaster four and a half years ago. She met her now-husband, Ben, and, along with his children, Naftali, 11, and Ursa, 8, and two dogs and a cat, moved into an 1880s Victorian row house in Chestnut Hill, across town from where she grew up.

"All the homes just feel kind of magical" says Freibaum, of the Victorians in the area. "It’s one of the few parts of Lancaster ‘city’ that is mostly residential without many shops and restaurants."

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The home itself, a three-bedroom, two-bath, felt particularly special. "It sounds cheesy, but when I first walked in, I got a very special vibe from the house," she says. "It just had good juju." It was one of the few homes she had seen that hadn’t already been flipped, or that didn’t need a full-blown renovation. The layout was good, and they were able to move in fairly quickly with just some minor cosmetic touches like changing the paint or pulling out the carpeting.

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The rest came in stages. Maple herringbone floors on the first floor, to replace the chippy narrow-slat, pine floors. A new laundry room and two new baths. "Spreading the renovations out over the past three years really helped," she says. "I think from a practical standpoint it also kept us from burning out on renovating."

And all the while, Freibaum added the vintage, thrift, and antique elements that are central to her and DeGaetano's style, which is a nice amalgam of both their worlds — Freibaum is a co-owner of a boutique PR firm called Serious Business and DeGaetano is a gardener. "A lot of the artist or client creative collaborations I’ve done are reflected somewhere in our artwork or decor," Freibaum explains. "And Ben and I share a love of flowers and florals, and we do have a lot of items with flowers on them!"

There’s also artwork in the foyer from one of the women who previously owned the house. "We’ve become sort of obsessed with her and finding ways to honor her in our home now," says Freibaum. "We love all the art, objects, and the stories behind them."

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Taken as a whole, it’s a style Freibaum calls "psychedelic grandma" — and it works. "It’s not a sterile, minimalist, modern home because that wouldn’t be us at all."

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The velvet sofa, from Interior Define — a company that allows you to customize your couch — is one of the few pieces of furniture in the home that isn't thrifted.

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The dining table was made by a friend, Jonathan Bancroft, who is also based in Lancaster.

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The art, chandelier, and textiles reflect Freibaum's "psychedelic grandma" aesthetic.

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Along with the living room, the kitchen is where the family spends the most time. "Those rooms are quite special to us," she says.

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Upstairs, the master bedroom is what Freibaum calls luxurious. There's no television or dressers. They painted the floor white when they moved in, having ripped out the pre-existing carpet. The sheets are Dusen Dusen.

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"We love all of our artwork," says Freibaum. "Some of it is thrifted, but a lot of it has a story behind it and is either from our travels or made by friends or people I’ve worked with over the years."

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Lancaster might not seem like the typical place for a young couple to settle down, but Freibaum loves its proximity to New York and the fact that it's just becoming cool. "It’s very 'up and coming' like a sort of Portland or Austin junior in my mind," she tells us. "Lots of artists and creative transplants, due to the lower cost of living (comparatively). I love the balance between 'city living' and instant access to beautiful countryside. I am in New York usually every week. I let my meetings and commitments with clients dictate my schedule but that said, I try to be in Lancaster as much as possible."