July 30, 2010

before and after

When I bought my house I knew it was going to be a lot of work. It's a typical brick Philadelphia rowhouse built in the early 1900's. The previous owner was an elderly woman that had been living there for over 60 years and probably hadn't renovated it in about 50. It was filled with paneling, peeling wallpaper, drop ceilings, dirty carpets...but it had potential! I loved the neighborhood, I loved my cute little tree lined street and most importantly - I could afford it! With the help of my family, Eric and a couple of contractors I was able to make it into the perfect home for me. Below are some photos of the transformation of my first floor.

Living/Dining Room

Besides the ceiling tiles, wood paneling, wallpaper, carpet, etc, the thing that bothered me the most about the living/dining area was how dark it was. It felt really depressing to be in that space. Here is a before:

Installing a full glass storm door (my door is always open unless its really cold out) and removing the air conditioner above the door (central air was installed) allowed so much more natural light into the room. The track lighting and table lamps also made a huge difference. Pretty much every single surface of this room is new - new ceiling, new walls, new floor (ebony stained bamboo floors). We also exposed the brick along one side - so dirty, so much work but definitely worth it! Here is a photo of the after:

Living/Dining Room - Other Side

This is a before shot of the other side of the living/dining room. The stairs was one of my least favorite elements of the room. I hated the carpet, the rounded bottom step and the awful metail railing. The room on the left was the powder room and the doorway in the center led to the kitchen.

The iron railing was removed and to keep it feeling more open, I decided to not put up a railing. Carpeted stairs were replaced with new wood treads that were stained to match the rest of the floor. I kept the powder room and also completely renovated it. I put a large mirror on the wall of the powder room to reflect more light into the space.

Living/Dining Room - Birds Eye View

I liked the idea of having a long piece of furniture along the brick wall to serve as a tv stand and dvd/book storage as well as seating for the dining table. My dad and I made that piece together in an afternoon with wood that I had cut to specific dimensions at Lowes. The only tools we used was a nail gun!

I had a cushion made for the portion of the bench that is in front of the dining table to make it more comfy to sit on:

Since I get a good amount of light in the dining area from the track lighting, I decided not to put a fixture above the dining table. Instead, I hung a grouping of candle holders that I found at CB2. Candles can create such an amazing atmosphere - I have them all over my house.

This dresser is one of the oldest pieces of furniture that I own. It's been with me since undergrad and it was a thrift store find. A few coats of paint and and change in hardware - it almost looks new!


The kitchen had a drop ceiling, cheap vinyl flooring, and really dated cabinets and countertop This is a picture of it before the renovations started:

There wasn't much I could do to the layout of the kitchen - it worked pretty well the way it was. However, almost everything was updated. After removing the drop ceiling, I was able to gain some more height to the room and was able to install taller cabinets (I keep a ladder in the kitchen to reach the upper shelves). I wanted cabinets that felt more classic, so I decided on a white finish and added large silver hardware and a stainless steel countertop to make it feel more modern. We also ripped out the flooring and just continued the bamboo into the room. To allow for more natural light, we installed a larger window and replaced the old solid door with one with more glass.

Kitchen - Other Side

The only thing that remained from the old kitchen is the stove. Although i replaced the fridge with a stainless steel one and added a stainless steel dishwasher, I didn't think it was necessary to replace the stove yet because it was fairly new and in great condition.

This little area is also in my kitchen - across from the back door. The previous owner had a dining table in this corner, but since I don't need two dining tables in my house, I opted for a large ottoman. I probably could've put more cabinets/storage space in, but I really enjoy entertaining and wanted something friends could sit on while I cooked or just extra seating in general.

Powder Room

I don't have any before pictures of the powder room but thats not neccessarily such a bad thing. It was probably the most disgusting room in the entire house. Its a really small space but I wanted it to be bold and feel special. The bamboo flooring also continued into this room and I kept all the walls white except for one. We installed a black and white floral wallpaper on the wall behind the toilet and added some red accessories to contrast. I love the wallpaper but my favorite element in this room is the mini chandelier!

The renovation ended up being much more work than I thought, but it was definitley a great learning experience. There are two more stories, but they are still a work in progress!

July 28, 2010

vintage shopping

I LOVE vintage shopping. It allows you to find things that are unique and that noone else will have. Vintage isn't just for those who want to look like they just stepped out of the 1950's (although who doesn't love the ladies of Mad Men?). Even if you aren't into the retro trend, as long as you mix vintage pieces with your everyday clothing, you'll look modern and will never have to worry about someone else showing up in the same outfit!

My favorite vintage store in Philly is Sixteen Hundred Below located on the corner of Tasker and Passyunk. I discovered the store last summer and I go so often that they know me by name! It takes up the basement level of the Reliable Floor Covering Company and has crept upstairs and currently takes up half of the main level as well. They have everything from furniture and home accessories to clothing, shoes and jewelery. Maria Froio-Furey, the owner, has been collecting vintage since she was 14. After stashing all her goodies away in storage for over 30 years, she finally decided to open a vintage shop about a year ago. What I love about this store is that Maria only stocks vintage - not consignment - so you'll never find a dress that you saw at Zara last year. The clothes are also in great condition and she frequently adds new stuff. And the best thing is that everything is reasonably priced. Vintage can be expensive but I've found this shop to be really affordable - and right now they're having a sale - 50% off all vintage!

A bookcase of vintage purses.

My roommate admiring a very cute plaid dress.
An employee modeling an amazing fur trimmed winter coat. This needs to be seen in person, its gorgeous!!

This dress is adorable! I can see it with flats and a little cross body bag - perfect for walking around the city.

This little silk dress from the 1940's came home with me :) I really liked the contrasting white fabric around the sleeves and the pattern is so sweet. It's really long and I'm really short, so it needs to be hemmed before I can wear it - an easy fix.

Lots of great jewelery! In addition to vintage jewelery, Maria also offers her own line of handmade pieces called NOCE Designs.

A few of my favorite finds from Sixteen Below!

July 27, 2010

waiting for fall...

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons and fall fashion is definitely near the top of the list. I know its not even August yet, but seeing whats to come is making me wish it was September already!

H&M Fall 2010 I love this big comfy coat. I have a slight obsession with coats/jackets...I own at least 20 and I'm always wanting more!
Very menswear inspired - think Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. And that purse is gorgeous.

This look was definitely inspired by Chloe's Autumn/Winter 2009 collection. Wearing shorts in cold weather may seem silly but looks so cute when paired with tights and is extremely comfortable. But the coat is the best part - love the color, love how it lays, love the piping along the edge - love everything about it.

This is my favorite look out of the four - looks so easy and comfortable, yet so stylish. It would also look great with a fur vest thrown over top.

Gap Fall 2010

Pierre Hardy has done a number of shoes for Gap and somehow I'm always too late in trying to buy a pair and my size is always sold out. This is NOT happening again. I will be stalking the Gap website from now on because I need to have these. The heel, the fleece lining, the height is perfect...the only thing wrong is the suede. Probably not the most practical material for a winter boot, but then again I'm not always the most practical dresser.

JCrew Fall 2010
What can I say? Jenna Lyons is a genius. The clothes are beautiful and I absolutely love the way the models are styled. Lyons says that the inspiration behind this collection was "Edie (Beale) goes to summer camp". A little kooky, a little crazy but classy. I want everything. I better start saving!!

July 26, 2010

the BEST gelato in town!

If you live in Philly, I'm sure you've heard of Capogiro. Stephanie and John Reitano opened their first gelato shop in 2002 in the Gayborhood - now known as "Midtown Village". Since then, they've opened 3 more stores in Rittenhouse, University City and East Passyunk (my neighborhood - lucky me!) Small batches of gelato are made each morning using local produce and milk from grass fed cows. Each location is slightly different in the style of the space as well as the gelato flavors offered. Flavors change daily and there's something for everyone - from basic chocolate to kiwi to more unique flavors like lemon opal basil. My boyfriend, Eric, and I went for some last night and we took photos while we were there. The classic scoop shops in Italy were the inspiration behind this shop in particular. The space feels very cozy and homey but it definitely has a modern edge to it as well.

I love the chalkboard wall - it looks great and is very functional since the menu changes so often.

How awesome is that light fixture?! It really brings the room together.
That is probably the most beautiful coffee machine I have ever seen.

The colors in this space work so well together - soft blue and white with the bold pops of orange.

All the photos in the space are the owners' old family photos. I love that!

Kiwi and plum (Eric) chocolate banana and Thai coconut milk (me). YUM.

I also found out that Monday night is movie night. It starts at 7 and they play movies that have been nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography. What a fantastic way to spend a Monday evening!

July 25, 2010


Above are photos of a friend's apartment that I helped furnish/decorate. The living room was the most important room for her. She wanted a space that she could entertain in and that felt comfortable, but also something that was modern and feminine to reflect her personality. The room is almost done, it just needs a few more accessories to add some color and character.

I love these oversized acrylic vases by Kartell. At 13" in diameter and 16.5" tall, they definitely make a statement. They would make excellent umbrella holders and the clear one would look great next to the console in this living room.

These coat hooks would also look great next to the console. The silver finish fits in well with the decor and the antlers add a touch of humor.

I love this color green - it compliments to the blues and the fuscia/reds in this space. The magazine holder would look nice under the console or even the acrylic coffee table.

These hourglasses may not be as useful as the rest of the accessories but they're cool! I love their shape and simplicity. And the green sand would add a touch of much needed color.

Smaller pillows in a rich fuscia hue on the sofa would also really bring some life into the room. These fabrics from Designers Guild are beatiful and look so luxurious!

Plants are also great accessories. A potted orchid would be perfect on the console - very girly, very pretty but very modern at the same time.

apt images: eric heidel