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Bronx-minster Abbey: Couple flips two-bed apartment into Victorian masterpiece

Bronx Times
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Talk about old school.

A University Heights couple has dedicated the past eight years to converting their two-bedroom co-op into a Victorian-era extraordinaire that could fit nicely as a set piece for Downton Abbey.

Now it’s a new age for owners Emery and Chris Ortiz since the duo put their old world apartment on the market with an asking price of $325,000 (265,978 British pounds) earlier this year.

Furnished literally from top to bottom, the fifth floor unit on Davidson Avenue displays: 19th century-style hand-crafted wallpapering, tiling, chairs, couches, dressers, rugs, and of course it showcases a Louve approved replica of a Jean-Honore Fragonard mural in addition to its upright piano and copper patina floor to ceiling mirrors, just to name a few of apartment 5A’s modest features.

“It started with just plain white walls when we moved in,” 38-year-old Emery, a stay at home mom said, noting that Chris and her began their immersive collection little by little over the years.

It was after buying a single old-fashioned, hooded chair that the married couple had their ‘eureka’ moment to drape the place in Victorian grandeur.

“We would we go to estate sales in Connecticut for most of the furniture but the butler’s pantry actually came mostly from E-bay,” she said.

Even though 2506 Davidson Avenue is an elevator building, many of the Ortiz’ lavish collection had to be carried up the five flights of stairs with the help of kindhearted friends and neighbors because they were massive compared to today’s furnishings.

The “monstrous king-sized rought iron bed frame,” which felt like the weight of London Bridge, proved to be an especially challenging 5-story adventure, Emery said.

“We paid our friends back in beer for that one,” she joked.

More than just a series of Victorian replicas, the fine attention to detail throughout unit’s woodwork and imported tiles are equally as unique to its large and upholstered furnishing, too.

Its wooden coffered ceilings and crown molding are all handmade...by Chris, a 40-year-old chef that previously lived in Park Slope, Brroklyn.

“I never had ceilings like that growing up and I asked him if we could do that and he said sure,” Emery said, mentioning that her husband’s craftsmanship was honed while attending high school woodshop classes.

The Ortiz’ have two very good reasons for leaving theirQueen Victoria’s dream palace, a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old baby girl.

“We just need more space,” Emery said, suggesting that the next move for the Ortiz family will be north of the city.

Although their new home will likely not repeat the same Victorian theme, Emery says that her plan is to somehow make the next home even more ornate than the Bronx unit.

“I’m not holding back on the wallpaper,” she said. “It’ll make sense when it’s all done,” Emery reassured.

Fortunately, this Bronx-minster Abbey replica includes just about all of its current furnishings for whoever swipes it off the market from Halstead’s Realty team.

Posted 12:00 am, October 16, 2019
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