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It’s not uncommon that homeowners come to designers with a list of “must-haves” prior to renovation. But for this Philadelphia family, their “big ask” was especially specific: “They wanted a pink velvet sofa,” recalls designer Michelle Gage. The wish proved an apt starting point for what would turn out to be a “bright and cheerful home,” as the designer notes, “something we need more of in 2020!”
“They’re big art lovers, and they were really excited to splash that around, to have lots of color,” explains the designer. But, from a practical standpoint, “they also have two little kids, so they wanted everything to be really durable, while still looking like a piece of art.” Read on to see just how the designer achieved that.
“Since this was the starting point for the scheme, we knew it needed a really gorgeous frame,” Gage says of the famous pink sofa. She custom designed a channel-tufted silhouette upholstered in a treated velvet, so, she explains, “her kids can crawl all over it!”
As bold as the sofa is, this room might just be the most tame in the house: “It’s open concept to the dining room and kitchen, so we didn’t want to pick a paint color for the wall because the cabinets and the sofa have that color.”
Instead, she outfitted the built-in bookshelves—”the owners are huge book lovers, so we took advantage of that,” says Gage—with plenty of colorful accessories, then tied together the color with a painting sourced from a local gallery.
“This is the first room you see when you come into the house, and you can see the sofa from there,” says Gage. She set the tone for the colorful home with a leafy wallpaper, but kept it in (relatively!) muted hues to keep the sofa’s status as centerpiece. The homeowners had already selected the mosaic floor with their contractor before Gage was brought on, so, she says, “we had to find something that was equally amazing but also went with those colors. So that was a fun challenge, but we started with a great base.”
Of course, the entry “also needed to be functional,” says Gage, so she designed a custom cabinet with a top faux drawer that flips down to throw in dog leashes, keys, and more clutter.
In the dining area, Gage selected a (durable!) wool rug to tie into the kitchen’s blue cabinets, then tapped a local woodworker for an expandable custom table. “It makes it really easy for them to go from having just the family to entertaining guests,” the designer says.
The John Richard light fixture is “one of the homeowner’s favorite pieces,” reveals Gage, and just one of the reasons that they nicknamed the house “all about that brass.” “In that space we also have a brass credenza and then we added a brass band to the base of the table to continue that throughout.”
In the kitchen, Gage said, “They really wanted an open space where they could be with their family. But, since it’s open to the rest of the home, Gage wanted to warm it up with textures and pattern, a goal achieved with window treatments and cozy rugs, as well as a fun assortment of accessories on the wood-grain open shelves.
“They really wanted styled shelves,” says Gage. “They had tons of images from Pinterest, so we helped style that.”
“This space is right off the kitchen, so we wanted to tie in the same colors,” explains the designer. Clean cabinets corral any clutter.
Gage custom-built the vanity with a local maker—”Again, there’s the brass!” she quips—but spent a long time settling on the perfect “moody” wallpaper. “I don’t think Ive ever run through so many papers,” recalls Gage. The winner, Fornasetti’s Nuvolette in a deep blue, “keeps the room connected with the rest of the downstairs, but still feels moody and cool,” says Gage.
“She’s a writer, and we wanted to give her a space that would be inspiring to write,” says Gage. “She wanted something a little more Gothic, a little spicier than the rest of the space.”
“This bedroom is huge and very long,” says Gage. Plus, the home has plenty of closet space, so she got to play around with the extra square footage. To play to their love of books, she added a chaise for reading and “a really sculptural table where you could leave a book.”
A once “awkward” space in the basement became the perfect hideaway for kids with the addition of a bright blue paint and a bird motif on the (low!) ceilings that draws the eye up.
“It’s another great place for reading,” Gage says of the smaller balcony space off of the office. “And then if she wants to have meetings or work outside she can do that there too.”
For dinners or entertaining, the family retreats to the backyard, where a black-and-white motif “gives it a little French vibe,” says the designer. With a backyard this cute, who needs a trip?
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