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Wondrous Wharton: The Upper Floors

Updated: Feb 26

A bright, modern loft space with exposed brick walls, a custom indigo sectional sofa, and blue and red patterned wallpaper

Welcome back to Wondrous Wharton! Today, we are excited to share with you our tour of the upper floors. If you haven't already, be sure to read the first floor post which lays out our design for the main level and introduces the story of our lovely family.


The design of this home represented a new beginning for this family, and at the heart of it was their two young daughters. The upper floors in particular were tailored to the young girls, and our goal was to create spaces that they could not only enjoy now but could continue to grow with for years to come.


2nd Floor


Original floor plan for a south Philadelphia row home

Original Floor Plan, 2nd Floor


The original 2nd bedroom was rather small at 10'6 x 9'6. When we increased the footprint of the first floor, we built out the 2nd and third levels to the same size, making for a large back bedroom. This new big bedroom (10'6 x 18'6) was ideal for two girls to share with plenty of floor space to play, a cozy chair to read and a generous closet outfitted to their needs.

A new floor plan for a south Philadelphia row home that includes a spacious additon

New Floor Plan, 2nd Floor (Addition highlighted in green)


Our clients requested a space for the girls that wasn't overtly "girly" or traditionally pink-themed.

Our solution? Walls drenched in soft blue, a wool area rug with mustard and gold tones, and small touches of pink, coral, and red in the drapery and bedding patterns. The wallpapered ceiling adds a dose of whimsy and makes the space look thoughtfully finished.


A mood board for a "not-too-girly" girls bedroom with soft blue, mustard and gold, and pops of pink, coral, and red

Our mood board for the Girls Bedroom


A detail shot of a girls bedroom bed, with patterned bedding in blue, gold, pink, and coral

AFTER: Girls Bedroom

We had so much fun designing the bedding for these sisters! Layers of print and texture feel so cozy and soft together. The window valances are made from a sweet fabric we found after searching high and low for the perfect shade of blue. It's the perfect playful print that unites all of the colors of the room. Easy pull-down blackout roller shades are hidden behind the poppy valances to make the room cozy & dark at bedtime.


Each sister has their own vintage-inspired pull-chain light for bedtime reading and a personal gold-framed pinboard to customize as they see fit.

A before picture of a cramped childrens bedroom with a wood paneled accent wall and two cribs

BEFORE: Girls Bedroom

Construction photo that shows the expanded floor plan and heightened ceiling

DURING: Girls Bedroom during framing - see how the addition opens up the area!

The addition allowed us the opportunity to raise the ceilings, making the room feel even more vast.


Modern, bright, and playful kids bedroom in light blue, gold, mustard, and coral pink with vintage touches

AFTER: Girls Bedroom

While other spaces in the home feature the original rustic flooring, our goal in this space was to create a bright, clean feeling space. We achieved this by painting the floor a soft white, and warmed it up by layering the traditional wool area rug with a soft, fluffy sheepskin.



We kept the majority of the fixtures and finishes in the girls bath with the goal of a cosmetic and functional upgrade. The small sink had to go, but the floor tile was saved and the tub was reglazed.


Before picture of a little girls bathroom

BEFORE: Girls Bath

A newly renovated girls bedroom with powder blue vanity, gold hardware, vintage-inspired brass lighting, a marble sink, a Liberty of London patterned curtain, and a chalkboard wall

AFTER: Girls Bath


We worked with the existing plumbing locations in the girls bath to create an adorably asymmetrical blue vanity with a single sink and medicine cabinet. Sweet Liberty of London cafe curtains provide privacy and a pop of pattern. Other sophisticated punches of color come from the textiles, including a set of mustard yellow hand towels, a vintage Turkish rug with details in orchid and blue, and a crisp white shower curtain with a lavender contrast detail.

Mood board for a modern girls bathroom with soft blue painted vanity, brass hardware, vintage fixtures, mustard textiles, and a vintage wool rug

Girls Bath Mood Board


Hardware and fixtures were updated in a sunny brass finish to brighten up the space. The chalkboard paint was a favorite original feature on the vanity wall, so we recreated it to let our little clients express their creativity freely.


A chalkboard wall in a modern children's bathroom with blue vanity, brass hardware, and mustard pops of color

The chalkboard wall, a beloved feature of our little clients!

For the primary bedroom, our clients requested a design that felt very serene,

but also welcoming to the inevitable morning pile up when the kids jump in the bed.


A modern primary bedroom with exposed brick walls, a vintage suzani headboard, a gold wool rug, and an indigo bedspread

AFTER: Primary Bedroom

The windows were layered with sheer pleated curtains for a bright feeling whether open or closed. (We hid blackout roller shades underneath for good sleep hygiene!) Soft oatmeal neutrals, terracotta brick tones and pops of indigo define the color palette of this room, grounded with a warm neutral rug with a traditional motif.


A mood board for a modern bedroom in shades of blue, gold, and brick red, with exposed brick walls, an indigo bedspread, and a vintage suzani headboard

Primary Bedroom Mood Board

A detail we love is the bedside pendant lights; using these instead of traditional lamps saves space and clutter on the nightstands and creates a more airy feeling in the space.

A modern primary bedroom with exposed brick walls, a vintage suzani headboard, a gold wool rug, and an indigo bedspreadA modern primary bedroom with exposed brick walls, a vintage suzani headboard, a gold wool rug, and an indigo bedspread

In the primary bedroom, we searched for textiles that harmonized with the character of the exposed brick.

The exposed brick wall has so much lovely character and patina. To highlight the brick texture, we gave careful thought to what to layer against it to create subtlety and depth. We found a beautiful antique Suzani textile and used it to upholster a custom headboard.


A vintage suzani bedspread in soft pink and gold mustard
A vintage suzani bedspread in soft pink and gold mustard

Using a 1940's Suzani textile for a headboard required some imagination!

We spent a lot of time optimizing the pattern layout to highlight the beauty of this vintage piece.


A modern primary bedroom with exposed brick walls, a vintage suzani headboard, a gold wool rug, and an indigo bedspreadA modern primary bedroom with exposed brick walls, a vintage suzani headboard, a gold wool rug, and an indigo bedspread

An antique Suzani headboard takes the lead in a cast of all-star textiles,

including a moody floral pillow, rich indigo coverlet, and soft waffle-textured linen blanket.


Thoughtful upgrades in the primary bath included new lighting and hardware, but most especially a custom double vanity with a soapstone trough sink built exactly to the size of the space. The vanity plus the medicine cabinets we added greatly increased the storage and function of this small space. We also swapped out a tub for a walk-in shower.

A before image of a bathroom in a south Philadelphia row home

BEFORE: Primary Bathroom

A modern urban bathroom with white vintage tile floors, a walnut vanity with soapstone double trough sink, and custom patterned window treatments

3rd Floor

A floorplan of existing conditions of a south Philadelphia row home focusing on the 3rd floor

Original Floor Plan, 3rd Floor The third floor of this home houses the den/playroom. With the addition buildout, we were able to add another guest room & full bath and stairs up to the new pilot house for the roof deck. While all the levels of the home benefitted in function from the three story addition, we were able to build out over the 2nd floor roof on this level, which added a lot of impact to the expanded footprint.

A floor plan for a south Philadelphia row home renovation featuring new additions on the 3rd floor

New Floor Plan, 3rd Floor (Addition highlighted in green)

A before picture of an office in a south Philadelphia row home

BEFORE: 3rd Floor Den


AFTER: 3rd Floor Den

Movie night, game nights, arts and crafts and all manner of play belong here in the 3rd floor den. We took cues from the playful nature of the room and selected a bold yet airy wallpaper to bring color and energy to the space. This hardworking space also doubles as an office, and we salvaged some of the original desk cabinetry to make a smaller work station under the television.

Den Mood Board

More exposed brick in this room meant we could continue to play with our terracotta and indigo palette. The room centered around a custom sectional in a subtly patterned indigo performance fabric. Acquiring this perfect sofa was no easy feat...

It's impossible to talk about the third floor without acknowledging the challenges of getting furniture into the space! Part of the charm of a South Philly rowhome comes from its narrow footprint. In particular, the staircases were quite skinny and posed an insurmountable obstacle to bringing in large furniture. Our plans for this space, however, hinged upon the custom sectional, which was too large to get up the stairs. Our GC left a hatch in the ceiling of the 2nd floor to get furnishings to the den and bedroom, but the sectional was not ready yet and the hatch needed to be closed up to continue construction to meet our deadline. How would the family get to sprawl out for movie nights?


Meetinghouse Movers to the rescue with an out-of-the box idea - to hoist the sofa from the roof. We custom sized the sofa to fit through the third floor window, so we just had to get it up there!


Check out the saga as it unfolded live on Instagram!


Our intrepid Jeremy, Naomi's husband and the head of Meetinghouse Movers, came to the rescue with a plan to hoist the sectional up from the roof and into the 3rd floor window. The day was filled with drama with on-and-off thunderstorms and the DM team standing by, biting their fingernails. Thankfully, the team at Meetinghouse Movers was able to execute their out-of-the-box plan without a hitch and successfully navigated the sectional from the roof through the window and into the 3rd floor den (which is hopefully its forever home!) Ah, the joys of working in an old rowhome!


The hard-won custom sectional in beautiful indigo-toned performance fabric.

A large upholstered ottoman is the perfect place to set snacks or kick your feet up during a movie.


Another way we adapted to the features of the old home was via our lighting selections. Since the ceiling in this space was sloped and vaulted, we thoughtfully sourced vintage-look fixtures that hang level despite the ceiling conditions.


The view from the den into the guest suite. A vintage runner rug guides you into the guest bedroom. The den is very much a multipurpose room, and we needed to maximize the use of space to accommodate its many functions. We love using custom built-in cabinetry to make a multiuse room more versatile. Here, we created an L-shaped bench with storage drawers & a bookshelf tower, where crafts and toys can be stored out of sight and books are in easy reach of little hands.


We embraced the amazing light on this top floor by painting all of the floors white. This was part for looks and part for function. We wanted to keep the original wood floors in the den but wanted them to feel consistent with the new floors leading back to the guest room. White paint was the solution, and it really helps the original brick to "pop"!


Custom built-ins & a rug-upholstered bench seat make for versatile seating for family game nights A favorite for Design Manifest is covering bench seats in vintage wool rugs. Rugs are beautiful, cozy and incredibly durable, making them an ideal material for a hard-wearing area like a craft corner. Weaving in layers of pattern and color in a way that feels casual, collected and effortless is one of our signatures across all of our diverse projects. Add "easy to clean" to that and you have some real lifestyle magic! Our hope is to create spaces that are not only visually beautiful but will hold up beautifully through many family gatherings.


The guest bath, an entirely new space made possible by our 3-story addition


The third floor bath is petite but packed with gorgeous details. From the walnut vanity perched on its sweet turned legs to the custom color mosaic tile floor - everywhere you look, there is something to ooh and ah over. A vintage-inspired mirror and sconces in polished brass stand out against the handsome deep teal paint, and we added a pop of red pencil tile to border the classic white subway tile shower wall. Our mix of materials reinforces the blending of tradition and fresh playfulness that defines this home.


The Guest Bath Mood Board - timeless beauty that doesn't take itself too seriously

Since we built this bathroom completely new, we were able to allocate a generously large space for the shower. Guests are treated to the most comfortable shower in the house, with an added bonus - the window boasts a great view of downtown Philadelphia!


Another entirely new space, the guest bedroom, is a 3rd floor oasis of bright relaxation Last on our house tour is the brand sparkling new guest bedroom/home office. We continued the airy and playful vibes in this space, beginning with the scalloped rattan headboard and layers of softly patterned bedding. The cheerfully patterned roman shades give one final wink to our brick tones, bringing warmth to this bright space.


Guest Bedroom Mood Board



When guests are not in town, this room will serve as a home office for our clients. A tranquil bright space to catch up on emails, a place to focus and dive in.


This project was enormous and tricky in many ways (hello 3rd floor sofa hoist!) but simultaneously was such a joy. Our clients were so open and trusting with us, in sharing their loves & dreams & hopes & needs and with making us a part of their new homecoming journey. In return, we delivered a design that reflected all of the heart and soul we felt in them, and executed it our full force of careful planning and dedicated, ongoing problem solving. Wondrous Wharton was born from not only from the dreams of our client family but with the soul of the original home in mind. In this way, we were able to create a design that was personal to our clients while staying in harmony with the history of the house. Our clients have even joked that if they should ever move, the furniture will be sold as a package deal with the home as everything is so perfect together!


When we embarked up this journey, our clients' hope was for the construction to be complete in order for their daughter to start second grade in the house. They fully understood that the project scope was massive, and that they might need to rent nearby to start the school year. We worked our magic along with our general contractor, Buono Construction Group to finish the project a couple weeks ahead of schedule. Our dear Wharton family is now happily living in the home, drawing, dancing, snuggling and making memories, as they will for many years to come.

Our favorite way for a story to end!


Photography by Rebecca McAlpin

Design and Project Management by Design Manifest

Build by Buono Construction Group

Photoshoot Prop Styling by Pia Panaligan

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