Input Home Tours: Former New Yorkers share their eclectic urban loft on The Landing in Fort Wayne

As more residents hunker down at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're seizing the opportunity to explore some of the coolest and most interesting living spaces in Northeast Indiana as a part of our new Input Home Tours series.

This week, Michael Bartkiewicz and his partner Henry DuRocher, formerly of New York City, give us a tour of their new urban loft on The Landing with mid-century eclectic flair.

Rich patterns and textures enliven the industrial vibes of this loft.

Q: Where do you live?
MB: An urban loft in a historic building on The Landing in downtown Fort Wayne.
Q: Who lives in your home?
MB: Me and my partner Henry DuRocher.
Q: How long have you lived here?
MB: Seven months.

Warm colors cozy up this urban loft.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
MB: Fort Wayne is my hometown, and Henry is from upstate New York. We both are actors and met while working in New York City. When the pandemic hit, Henry and myself were on tours with Cirque du Soleil, and unfortunately, both were canceled. So, rather than risk moving back to the city, we decided to enjoy the Midwest experience.

Q: Do you work from home?
MB: Henry continues to put his creative skills to use by drafting and designing commercial art for social media platforms. 

Monochromatic pillows add texture to a vintage sofa.
Q: Tell us about your space.
MB: The majority of the buildings on The Landing were built in the 1800s. Though we don’t know the exact purpose of our one-bedroom unit, we like to guess by the high beams and large windows it was used for industrial purposes. 
Q: What inspired you to move into this space, of all places?
MB: We’re “big city” guys! It was necessary for us to surround ourselves in a metropolitan environment. Plus, we get to watch the train pass by. It’s reminiscent of our Brooklyn days when the J-M-Z Metro line stopped right outside our window. 

Henry DuRocher and Michael Bartkiewicz say that living near an elevated railroad in downtown Fort Wayne reminds them of their apartment in Brooklyn.
Q: What’s it been like to live on The Landing so far?
MB: The experience has been really rewarding. We have almost everything we need right outside our door. The Landing has provided downtown with, not only an urban escape, but a place that allows small businesses to thrive. 
Q: During COVID-19, at a time when so many Americans are spending more time in their homes than usual, have you found yourself making design updates to your space? If so, what are they?
MB: Since we’re renters, there’s not too much we can do to the space. Otherwise, I’d go wild! Mounting the TV was a game-changer, though. It allows the space to feel lighter, while showing off the high ceilings and walls. 

This loft is a one-bedroom unit on The Landing.
The homeowners enjoy fashion and art from the early 60s to the late 70s era. 
Q: How would you describe your design style?
MB: I like to call my style Mid-Century Eclectic. I love taking vintage pieces and mashing them with something unexpected. The color scheme is kept warm with deep oranges and mostly green accents. It keeps it cozy in the winter, but glowing in the summer. 
Q: Where do you find your design inspiration?
MB: We both enjoy fashion and art from the early 60s to the late 70s era. I have a love for textiles, so I try mixing as many together as I can. 50s horror movie poster colors. 

Horror movie poster colors from the 1950s can be found throughout the space.

A budget-friendly solution to wall art is framing images from your favorite magazines.
Q: Have you faced any design challenges in your current space, and if so, how did you overcome them?
MB: There are no windows in the bedroom. So I thought we could either overcompensate and light the space immensely, or we embrace it and add to its intimate appeal. We went with the latter. Rich chocolate brown blankets, a groovy Scandinavian shag rug I picked up at an estate sale, and dim gold lighting turned our drab bedroom into a beatnik’s hideaway. 

A bedroom without windows has been transformed into a beatnik’s hideaway. Rich chocolate brown blankets add to the bedroom's cozy appeal.
Q: What is your favorite room/space in your home? Tell us about it.
MB: The living space. It’s saturated with color, natural light, and filled with things that inspire me. 
Q: What is your favorite piece of furniture or décor in your home? Tell us about it.
MB: That’s a tough one! If I had to choose a favorite it would be the oversized orange lamp in the window. It’s a custom mid-century piece I found at Mercantile On Main. Henry’s is his shadow box we display in the kitchen. It’s filled with small finds, vignettes, and his collection of miniatures. 

Natural light illuminates the dining area.Lamps and candles create an eclectic centerpiece.
Q: What advice do you have for others looking to update their space in Fort Wayne? Any local shops or resources you would recommend?
MB: Don’t be afraid to shop secondhand. Thrift and antique stores are filled with items you can use to express your personal style without breaking the bank. Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store has a great stock of gently used furniture. While Vintage Treasures Antique Mall always has fun finds at a great cost. 

A favorite, oversized orange lamp in the window is a custom mid-century piece found at Mercantile On Main in Fort Wayne.

Q: Any fun tips or tricks for home updates on a budget?
MB: Find things laying around the house and reuse them. Frame pictures cut from your favorite magazine to hang as chic wall decor. Or layer books and art on surfaces to show off your collections in a unique way. 
Q: Last but not least, tell us what you love about Fort Wayne and why you are choosing to make your home here?
MB: It’s been a humbling experience to really step back and look at the charm of Fort Wayne. It’s exciting to see the city indulging in art and food, especially—brick walls turning into murals, and vacant buildings turning into cafés. The city is really continuing to grow in culture, community, and coney dogs. 

Michael Bartkiewicz and Henry DuRocher relax on the couch in their downtown Fort Wayne home.

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Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.