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Miracle on 13th St

We're so excited to share our latest portfolio project with you all- The Miracle on 13th St! Miracle on 13th was born when past clients reached out to let us know that after some false starts with renovations to their previous digs, they had finally found their dream home. Located in South Philadelphia's Passyunk neighborhood, the new house was on a stretch of 13th street which is famed for its spectacular annual display of holidays lights known as the "Miracle on 13th Street".

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Our clients loved participating in the festive neighborhood spirit and loved the multiple outdoor spaces their Philly rowhome offered. The house, a 1920's brownstone, had lost much of his historical charm over a century of updates, but still offered beautiful tall ceilings and a gracious amount of space and light for a city home. Much of the space was underutilized though, and the layout included dead zones that existed just to collect clutter. The addition of oddly placed 'mudroom' built-ins in the kitchen were another wasted feature that didn't fit their lifestyle.

First floor- Before

Dead zone/wasted space - under utilized 'Mudroom' cabinets
Existing Conditions

The scope initially was to consist of furnishings and decor, but the more our clients thought about ways the space wasn't working for them, the more it made sense to tackle the first floor more holistically. In addition to furnishing the space, we completed on a full kitchen renovation, and made architectural improvements including widening the stairs to the basement and first floor, adding decorative moldings and increasing window and door sizes to enhance the indoor-outdoor connection within the home. The results are nothing short of a year-round Miracle on 13th St!

Proposed floor plans

In our projects, we develop the "mood" or style of the project in tandem with the floor plans and layout details. This way we can effectively marry function and form in a really seamless way, allowing them to develop alongside one another. After a round of design discovery with our clients, we homed in on a vision for their design which was urban, airy, elegant and comfortable, with enough color to be energizing and an overall sense of serenity and calm.

Living/Dining Moodboard

In the kitchen, a La Cornue range would be the crown gem in a space that mixed a hint of industrial influence with natural wood and stone elements, and made space for a polished yet super-cozy built in dining nook looking out on the patio.

Kitchen/Breakfast nook Moodboard

The kitchen was expanded to better fit the available floorspace, centering the range between the two generous windows and making the range plus statement tiled hood the heart of the floorplan. A tall pantry for storage plus an appliance garage to conveniently hide away items that usually clutter up the countertop flank the refrigerator.

Kitchen 'Before' and schematic drawing of proposed plans

Another detail you may have spotted is the back doors leading to the patio. We expanded the back wall opening to its maximum width and height, adding fixed sidelights and larger french doors, all with black frames which help to dramatically enhance the light pouring in. Indoors or out, the view each way is now spectacular!

We stowed a beverage fridge in a bank of airy white cabinetry which offers options for hiding and displaying glassware and dishes.

Across the way, a live edge walnut countertop and bar stools mark this as the place for guests to hang out while drinks and snacks are being prepared. One of the best things we've heard from our clients is that every space gets used now! Designing with lifestyle in mind means each 'zone' has a purpose, and people are drawn to enjoy the spaces naturally.

One detail that absolutely bears mentioning is the epic, vintage Turkish runner. We knew we wanted the hard finishes in the kitchen to be quite airy and neutral, but per our clients request we had to think about how to keep it from feeling too sterile or serious. The chorus of peach, orange, lavender and blue in this runner is truly unique and unusual, and it just brings so much joy and life to the space!

Another pop of color at this end of the house comes from the green faux-leather banquette. Low-maintenance, beautiful and comfortable, this custom made banquette transforms this nook into the ideal place to enjoy a cup of coffee and gaze out into the yard. Our clients tell us they leave the doors open as often as possible, and they love the feeling of the outdoors and indoors flowing together.

As we designed the living room and dining room spaces, our goal was to keep the space feeling as open and airy as possible, while still providing functional and flexible seating for entertaining. Our clients told us they preferred to have the living and dining rooms lean more polished and elegant, as the finished basement was going to be home to their comfy sectional and big tv for movie watching. We chose furnishings that balanced form and comfort, emphasizing sculptural lines and midcentury influences.

We added wall sconces to the living room to help define the open concept space. A large custom jute-look indoor outdoor rug anchors the entire room and is a practical solution for our animal-loving clients who are often fostering new pups and kitties. Ripplefold linen curtains bring softness to the room, as well as emphasizing the ceiling height. The soft, vibrant coral sofa is upholstered in a performance fabric as well which will allow for easy maintenance so this stylish home can stay looking sharp for years to come.

In considering the entry, we designed a wall mounted console that appears to float off the ground, giving the feel of greater spaciousness. Chunky, square hardware and color blocking on the console echo the interlinking black and white marble mosaic tile inlaid on the floor below. Airy white moldings repeat this geometry, giving depth and a sense of scale to the walls.

Entry Before

While this room was built more for socializing than movie marathons, we did sneak a television above the floating credenza. Yep, that landscape is our favorite Frame TV. We love that this room has the flexibility to act as place to lounge and stream but also is so much more.

In the dining room we got our dose of color from this fun, colorblocked wool rug. A modern chunky wood table has a modest footprint for every day, but has two extension leaves for larger gatherings. We used the same chairs at the breakfast nook and the dining table, so that the breakfast chairs could easily be brought over to the dining table for additional seating.

One of our favorite changes we made in this corner was enlarging the window in the right corner, adding more light and architectural drama to this little dining room. Our clients, in addition to being pet lovers, are also plant lovers, and make the most of all the light in the house to nurture their houseplants. The new window emphasizes the height of the room, as does the statement arched mirror, which we used to create an illusion of more space in this corner.

One very important, though less glamorous change we made to the floor plan included widening the stairs to the basement. In the original floorplan the basement stairs were so narrow they were difficult to use and impossible to bring furniture through. We widened both basement stairs and first floor stairs, refinished the floors and stair treads, and replaced the old banister and railing with a custom metal railing to better match the sleek styling of the first floor.

We also re-imagined the space beneath the stairs and the adjacent wall to improve the design and flow, opening the stairwell to the living space with a half-wall, and moving the closet door into the area under the stairs. You can see from the before and afters that a wall cluttered with doors becomes purposeful and functional with these changes.

After- coat closet door on the left, powder room pocket door on the right

Before- closed-in stairwell, so many doors.

Behind that sliding pocket door is a refreshed powder room just as fabulous and just a bit more wild than the other spaces we designed. Powder rooms are a great place to be playful and take risks - after all, you're there for a good time, not a long time.

That wraps up our tour of Miracle on 13th Street! It is so rewarding to see how much our clients love living and entertaining in their new spaces. We wrapped up work on this project just days before the holiday season, and our clients reported back that even the toughest of customers (family!) loved how the home looked, felt and functioned.

In fact, these clients are back on our wait list for decoration in the upstairs spaces, which is really the greatest compliment of all. Big thanks to our clients for being so trusting and patient, and to our GC, Buono Construction for forging a steady path through unbelievable supply chain disruptions and delays.

Are you dreaming of giving your home a major glow-up? Reach out via the contact form on the 'Work With Us' tab of our website, lets see what miracles we can make!

Photography by Courtney Apple


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