Gone are the urinals from the men's room, the fake Roman columns out front, and the wet bar.

But in the tin-toy-factory-turned-milk-bottling-plant-turned-church-turned-catering-hall, the ballroom still stands.

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And the Bodiford family, living in the 19th-century Port Richmond building since 2005, use it for, among other things, flamenco dancing and trapezing.

But like the rest of the house, it's a work in progress.

For the last six years, the Bodifords - parents Clarence and Lhianna and daughters Xia, 8, and Mahlon, 3 - have been slowly converting the 7,800-square-foot space on the corner of Ann and Tilton Streets: The former men's room is now a dressing room. Those columns outside have been replaced with smooth coral-colored stucco. The bar is a second-floor kitchen.

And the best part - at least for Clarence: There's no more yard work.

Having lived for three years on 10 acres of land in Maryland that Lhianna's grandparents owned for 40 years, Clarence had become tired of landscaping chores.

"I grew to hate it," he said. "I don't want to pull another weed."

Plus, the farms surrounding their former property were being replaced with McMansions, and the Bodifords felt more and more isolated.

"We had this idyllic little place, but we didn't know anybody," said Lhianna, 37.

Now despite their lawnless situation, a 1,600-square-foot roof deck provides outdoor space for Xia and Mahlon to play. There is even room for an aboveground pool and a small container garden.

Upon deciding to leave their rural life, the Bodifords began a search for a mixed-use building in Philadelphia, where four of Lhianna's cousins live, but many of the spaces above storefronts were dark and warrenlike, or still smelled like pizzerias.

This space, which in its last incarnation was a watering hole for the neighborhood's Polish American population, was larger than other properties the family looked at, and had an apartment attached where the family could live while they renovated the main building. Clarence, 46, who fabricates furniture and other design elements for restaurants, did almost all of the work himself.

"I learned how to do everything I know how to do because I was always too broke to pay someone to do it," he said.

In the first year, he gutted the building, peeling off layers of catering-hall glam like brass fixtures, plastic paneling, and gold starbursts to find the bones of the factory underneath. He jackhammered cinder blocks out of every window, stripped layers of paint from the brick walls, and rescued the original wood floors from layers of linoleum.

Then he lost steam.

That meant the family moved in when the renovation was about 60 percent complete: Although Clarence had installed an upstairs solar under-floor heating system, the piping has been problematic, leaking water into the bedrooms below. He removed the drop ceilings in the bedrooms downstairs, but there was still only one bathroom in the house. He installed carpet, albeit temporarily.

But the combined living and dining room have 20-foot ceilings and contain a wood-burning stove where the family burns scrap lumber from home projects. The six-burner gas stove in the kitchen is great for making the Southern recipes handed down through Lhianna's family. She stores root vegetables the old-fashioned way, in a cool, dark cupboard instead of the refrigerator. And Clarence installed cork flooring and blond wood cabinets.

"It always looks like a diner at the end of the rush," Lhianna said.

In Xia's room the walls are lavender, and deep windowsills display an antique doll collection. Mahlon sleeps in a walk-through space off the master bedroom and the ballroom, which is an all-purpose rec room reflecting the family's hobbies.

Besides flamenco dancing, Lhianna also practices kung fu. Clarence works on his motorcycles and carpentry projects in one corner, and in another there's a sewing studio. On rainy days, the trapeze and other circus equipment hanging from the ceiling enable the kids, who are homeschooled, to expend energy. An elk head on the wall belongs to a friend.

These days, the isolation of their Maryland days is long gone. The space is often full of children working on sewing projects, or friends who have stopped by for a meal.

Living in an unfinished home for five years has its benefits. "We wanted to live in it and see what our needs are," said Clarence. "At that time we had one kid, and now we have two. Things we thought would be convenient, like the placement of light switches, didn't work out."

Other parts of the renovations have been a matter of trial and error as well. Lhianna tried three trim paint colors before she was able to match the multicolored traces of paint that remain on the brick walls in the living room. The floors were full of holes from the pipes that ran water to the building's former factory machines. Instead of patching the holes with wood, Clarence hammered in pieces of copper pipe.

Now he is gearing up for a second round of renovations, saving money to put in another alternative heating source in the bedrooms and eliminate the forced-air heat. He wants to get the upstairs windows trimmed out and install more built-ins, like window seats and bookshelves.

In the meantime, the house is a testament to creative recycling.

The furniture is an eclectic mix of found objects, family antiques, and modern pieces made by the Bodifords' friends. The coffee table in the living room is made of two wood pallets with metal edges, sanded and oiled by Clarence. His guitars hang on the walls, and a stained glass panel with a stylized motorcycle hangs in the living room window. While walking the family dog, he found 10 solid oak doors on the street - which forced him to retrofit the openings he had already cut for the interior doors in the house. But it was worth it, he said.

Lhianna's mother, who helped the family plan the layout, found the big doors leading to the roof deck at a salvage yard in New York. By some miracle, the rounded tops fit the existing arched doorway perfectly. And the doors, which look like they might have come from a church, match the old pew in the living room that serves as a shelf for the kids' books.

Even with rough edges, the space has its charm and allure. And Lhianna is in no hurry for it to be finished. "Our master bathroom is going to be a paradise, but we have to wait," she said.