How to Transform the Look of Your Home in One Weekend

A master bedroom in Doylestown | Photo courtesy East Coast Creative

A master bedroom in Doylestown | Photo courtesy East Coast Creative

Designer and DIY maven Monica Mangin might live in Bucks County — “I live in the woods, and I love it,” she says — but she knows all about the unique design challenges facing those of us who live in classic Philly rowhomes. The DIYer-turned-blogger-turned-TV host-turned entrepreneur and owner of East Coast Creative has bestowed her talents and aesthetic on many-a-Philly rowhome, so she knows her stuff.

In fact, last year she launched a home design-focused web series called The Weekender, which featured many homes from right here in Philadelphia. The show feels like something straight out of HGTV — styleless homeowners turn to our expert and host, Monica, for design help, and she completes five projects in a single weekend that totally transform their space — but it comes at a more web-friendly pace: Entire episodes last around 10 commercial-free minutes, and you can find them right on YouTube.

Season 2, which premiers today, branches out to homes beyond our region, but I chatted with Monica yesterday to get the skinny on what she learned about working in Philly homes during the show’s debut season, and to glean tips for totally transforming a space in a matter of days. Her insights below.  Read more »

Prediction: You Will Want Every Piece of Furniture From This Philly Design Firm’s Gorgeous Line at West Elm

Mitzie Wong (left) and Wendy Wurtzburger (right) of Roar + Rabbit

Mitzie Wong (left) and Wendy Wurtzburger (right) of Roar + Rabbit

You know you have found your soulmate in furniture when your friend Slacks a picture of a nightstand to you, and you both drool all over your respective keyboards. My soulmate in furniture happens to be my colleague, Emily Goulet, who over the weekend discovered — rather by accident — that Philly-based design firm Roar + Rabbit has a positively gorgeous furniture and home decor line at West Elm, which launched last year. The firm is helmed by venerable Anthro veterans Wendy Wurtzburger and Mitzie Wong.

The line includes everything from tea towels ($29 for three) to artwork (around $150 and up) to leather and velvet sofas ($1,699 and $1,099 respectively). The pieces are modern, heavy on geometry, gorgeously balanced and full of whimsy and elegant femininity.

You can see the full line for yourself here, but our favorite finds are below.  Read more »

10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Living in a 100-Year-Old Philly Rowhome

My house celebrates its 100th birthday this year. It’s weird, when I really stop and think about it, to ponder all the lives its lived — and all the people who’ve lived in it over the past century.

My husband, Chris, fell in love with our South Philly rowhome before I did. He had to convince me we should buy it. But it’s been nearly four years since move-in day, and, with countless improvement projects, DIY forays and homeownership lessons under our belts, I can say I finally came around, too.

Here’s what we’ve learned along the way. Read more »

10 Awesome Bar Accessories You Need to Pimp Out Your Bar Cart

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Okay, so you’ve already done the hard work of assembling an impressively well-stocked bar to wow your houseguests. Good: Step 1 of True Adulthood, complete. Now it’s on to Step 2: curating a collection of bar accessories that are just as jaw-droppingly impressive.

Not sure where to begin? We found 10 awesome bar accessories to get you started — from surprising IKEA finds (at a steal!) to statement pieces worth the splurge.

Say it with us: no more plastic solo cups.  Read more »

7 Pro Tips for Creating and Styling Magazine-Worthy Open Shelves

Open shelves in a Villanova kitchen designed by Ashli Mizell | Photograph by Jason Varney

Open shelves in a Villanova kitchen designed by Ashli Mizell | Photograph by Jason Varney

Let’s be real: Open shelves — trendy though they may be — are fickle friends. On the one hand, they’re awesome looking in their easy, casual simplicity. But on the other hand, man, do they require a lot of thought. And cleaning. Oh, the cleaning.

“If you’re smart about what you put on your shelves — and where you place certain items — they really don’t have to be a constant maintenance issue,” says Rittenhouse-based interior design guru Ashli Mizell. “Open shelves are an opportunity to create a center of interest, show and enjoy things you love, and add tremendous character to a room.”

So, where to begin? Mizell has a seven-step formula that will transform your shelves from ho-hum to wowza in no time. Don’t believe me? Check out photos of her own gorgeous work below.  Read more »

10 Philly Bathrooms You’ll Swoon Over

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I’m about a third of the way through a DIY bathroom renovation at the moment, so you’ll forgive me if all I can think about is a gorgeous finished bathroom to call my own. It’s going fine. Just, you know, slow.

Even though I’ve got a plan in mind, I can’t seem to keep myself from scouring the internet for nuggets of design inspiration. After all, the beauty of a slow DIY re-do is that it’s never too late to swap a paint color, or add a light fixture, or rethink the vanity.

Take a look at these gorgeous Philly-area bathrooms and dream with me. You can even click on the photos to see more angles of the spaces, or other projects by the talented local designers, architects and builders included here. You won’t be disappointed. Read more »

11 Philly-Themed Home Items That Will Actually Look Cool in Your House

philly-etsy-itemsIt’s just a fact of life that themed home decor of any kind can skew really cheesy really fast. There’s a delicate tipping point at which you go from having a good eye for interesting pieces to becoming the weird bag lady with all the porcelain cat figurines.

But another fact of life is this: Philadelphians love Philadelphia. And that’s a good thing. But decor-wise, the trouble begins when you start filling your home with every kind of Philly-themed item under the sun (especially if said items have to do with your favorite Philly sports team).

I’m here to tell you: Moderation is key. One or two striking pieces or objects that show your hometown pride can add a nice punch to your room. I waded through the depths of Etsy to find a handful of non-cheesy Philly-themed pieces you could be proud to display in your home. Just don’t overdo it.  Read more »

How to Live Gorgeously in Small Philly Apartments: Lessons from Airbnb

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Photos via Airbnb, with permission from homeowners

I’ll be the first to admit that I love some good house porn — especially when said house porn involves a peek into my neighbors’ homes. After nearly a decade of living in rentals in two cities, I’ve become particularly enamored with small spaces that are utilized with utmost efficiency: each nook, cranny and corner thoughtfully employed to maximize every square inch of living space. It’s basically icing on the cake if the space is styled well to boot.

So what better place to gawk at stylish small spaces that happen to belong to my neighbors — by which I mean, fellow Philadelphians — than Airbnb? Oh, the bookcases that double as room dividers! The tiny tables to create a coffee nook! The ladders and lofted beds! It’s as good as Christmas.

So snoop with me, will you? Maybe there are some smart design schemes you can crib for your own pad. But if not, hey, at least it’s still some mighty fun house porn.  Read more »

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