Designing Paradise;Panama Street Pt. 2


Welcome back to the blog for a more detailed look into our Panama St. Paradise project! Today's post will focus on the open-concept main floor of our project, which includes the kitchen, dining area, living room and powder room. We will look at what it takes to design a successful open-concept space and the strategies we took to make this floor beautiful, cohesive and super functional.

As a reminder from last week, here is the before and after of the layout on this floor. We took down the walls around the kitchen and at the top of the stairs. This allowed for a much more spacious feel, and a sense of togetherness for our clients family while meals are being prepared and eaten and little ones are playing. We always want our clients homes to reflect their lifestyles, and not an outdated concept of what living spaces 'should' be.

Our design brief for this home was colorful and optimistic with touches of glamour. Our clients had only one piece of furniture they wanted to include from their previous home- a classic Eames lounger. This set a precedent for touches of black and graphic elements. A stunning Oushak rug with a cheerful palette was one of our very first decor selections, which set the color story for the first floor. Another early selection was this original painting by Michelle Ramin that we knew we loved for the dining area. Knowing these three elements allowed us to make thoughtful choices about other colors and finishes throughout the space.


Lets explore how we unfolded our design scheme in each of the four distinct areas of this floor! First the heart of the home- the kitchen.

In this open-concept kitchen there is a double focal point- both the the window and the range hood make a statement each in their own way. What is overall a very airy space is balanced out by a solid wall of built-in storage wall on the left. Keeping the tall cabinets white keeps the kitchen feeling bright while hiding appliances and adding quite a bit of storage. We opted for a slab backsplash in this kitchen for its luxurious feel and to maintain a continuity of materials, allowing for each element in the room to stand out and not compete.

All appliances in this kitchen are concealed by cabinetry panels. Here you can see a full fridge and freezer drawers on the back wall hidden behind paneling, and in the island is a neatly hidden dishwasher. Our clients were very excited about the built-in coffee maker to the left of the fridge, for super-serene morning caffeine routines. We mixed three tones in the cabinetry of this kitchen, light medium and dark - ultimately keeping it very neutral and timeless but layered with a lot of depth. We chose to break up the top tier of upper cabinets on the back wall with mirror panels to add interest while still hiding whats inside.

Lighting is the jewelry of the home, but in this kitchen the handsome Brizo faucet is also a gem! We selected this Visual Comfort pendant for its beauty and the way it let the colors of the roman shade shine through. The shade, made in a Schumacher Ikat fabric picks up the hues from the living room rug for a fun pop in an otherwise neutral space.

Although the cabinetry finishes in this kitchen are neutral, we went for bold color in the roman shade and custom upholstered bar stools. We felt that a neutral kitchen would stand the test of time and changing taste the best, whereas its comparatively easy to change fabrics when the fancy strikes.

We hunted long and hard for the perfect counter stools for our clients- many are handsome but very heavy and we wanted our selection to be more family-friendly. We chose a West Elm counter stool and had it reupholstered in this fabulous printed velvet fabric. We added a stain protection treatment to the fabric in consideration of our clients' little ones.

In designing this dining area, we chose to use tall built-ins flanking a custom banquette which both defines the space visually and keeps it very open. The downfall of most formal dining rooms is that they don't get used a lot. A large table can feel overly formal for family meals, and our solution was to design a custom table that is the perfect size for daily meals but expands for larger parties and dinners. Spare dining chairs are used throughout the home as desk chairs and vanity chairs, but can be pulled up to the table for extra guests at dinner time.

This original painting by Michelle Ramin reflects the cheerful energy of our clients' young family. The brassy mid-century inspired chandelier brightens the space without competing with the painting visually. The custom banquette is upholstered in a leather-like vinyl that is super soft and totally durable and practical, making this a very cozy spot to eat. We had the table built by local artisans here in PA to our custom specs, and had the chairs reupholstered in a family friendly fabric that adds a pop of blue to our dining area vignette.


High on our clients wish-list was a main-floor powder room, which is lacking for so may Philadelphia homes due to its narrow plot sizes and vintage-era housing stock. We carved out floor space in our new plan for a petite powder room with a lot of style, and the results are stunning.

The big design challenge in this powder room was a lack of natural light We addressed that concern by adding a glass transom over the door to let light in and by using a beautiful Phillp Jeffries printed grasscloth wallpaper to add dimension and a sense of spaciousness.

We installed a slab marble apron sink with a shelf below for a bit of storage. Using a built-in floating sink makes the most of the square footage in this petite powder. The textures of Calacatta marble and wallpaper play off of each other in a very dreamy way. The sculpted brass mirror adds a hit of glamour along with the sleek wall mount faucet.

Turning now to the living room, we needed to design this area to serve as formal living room, family room and playroom all at once. We wanted to maintain a certain level of elegance and visual refinement but also achieve a very comfy and durable space. We spoke at length with our clients about their desired quality level and what kind of maintenance they could live with. They were willing to invest in a beautiful quality handmade wool rug knowing their kids would be careful playing in the room. With a six-month lead time for this hand-made rug we knew we had to make the purchase early on in the project to hit the install date and fortunately our clients trusted us to make this decision without even having seen the completed design for the room. Our best results come when we have trusting relationships with our clients and they understand we are their best friends and passionate advocates when it comes to delivering well-designed and utterly delightful homes.

The star of this living room is obviously the over-sized green velvet sectional sofa. This custom sofa is big enough for the whole family to nap on and yet still manages to be elegant and refined. We decided to say NO to accent pillows for this sofa, keeping it sleek and simple. For window treatments we opted for unlined linen drapes in a ripplefold style that is refined and contemporary but harmonious with the traditional elements in the room.


This interior window was an empty opening when we began work, which was neither safe from a parenting perspective nor remarkable from an architectural perspective. We installed a glass window to maximize the natural light coming in from the entry transom and to allow views of the custom plaster wall treatment by Dusted Backdrops and the elegant, edgy brass chandelier hung in the entry. Black and brass play throughout this home, here in a set of sculptural sconces that really make this window vignette a statement moment.


One of the many custom pieces we commissioned for this project is this coffee table made by Bicyclette furniture here in the Bok building where our studio is located. We loved adding a simple, clean-lined, timeless piece in this room to balance out the more traditional accent chair and rug. We always feel that for a room to have soul it is essential to mix in handmade and vintage pieces along with newer ones.

Design is all about breaking the rules. Normally we are not in favor of the ubiquitous accent wall but in this case we loved using this graphic Schumacher wallpaper to add depth and interest to this long wall in the living room. The graphic shapes in the wallpaper play off of the angles in the chest really nicely, and the masculinity of our clients' vintage Eames chair is winked at by the whimsical portrait above.


Tucked against the wall of the powder room we added a built-in chest to hide AV equipment and kid toys. Our clients chose a Frame TV which doubles as art when it's not turned on. We made a selection of digital art that coordinated well with the design of the room and uploaded the art straight to our clients TV for them. Built-in book shelves tucked against the fireplace make the most of the small nook near the window of this room.

This custom built-in chest is made of ebonized oak with vintage brass inset hardware. Updates to this area included a new fireplace mantle. The chairs are custom upholstered with another fabulous Schumacher Ikat fabric. When thinking about the furniture plan for this room we kept in mind that every living room needs a few pull-up chairs that are cozy enough to converse in but not so large you can't pull them around to watch the game or make space for the kids to play.

We had a lot of fun selecting accessories for this home. For this bookshelf corner that meant everything from planting houseplants in sculptural containers and repotting our client's grandmother's African violet to selecting decorative objects and vintage books and curating family photos along with visually delightful objects and art. We selected a shapely brass container hoping our clients' children would enjoy hiding small treasures in it. Some moments are just about the pleasure of beauty, and this corner is one of them!


This wraps up the tour of the main floor of #PanamaStreetParadise, we hope you enjoyed all the details as much as we do. If you're thinking about transforming your home and want it to be as elegant, effortless and unique as this project, click over to our New Client form and drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.


Photographs by Courtney Apple

General Construction by Buono Construction Group

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