Name: John and Melissa. Kids: Elliott and Julian. Dogs: Beatrix (Boston) and Bacon (Frenchie).
Location: South Kensington — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned
This 1800-square-foot Philadelphia row home was just a shell when Melissa and John bought it two and a half years ago. On a tight budget, they applied for a special first-time home buyer loan to allow them to rehab the existing structure. They worked closely with a contractor, consultant and architect to create their dream home (as well as did a lot of the work themselves or with the help of friends). It was a true labor of love and a practice in patience; it took Melissa and John about two years to get the house to where it is today.