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


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


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 »

12 Cozy Throw Blankets to Keep You Toasty Warm This Winter

Clockwise from left: Thomas Paul Octopus Throw from Houzz, Henri Dove Cotton Throw from DwellStudio, 5th Avenue Glacier Park Throw from Pendleton, Houston Throw from Fab.com.

Clockwise from left: Thomas Paul Octopus Throw from Houzz, Henri Dove Cotton Throw from DwellStudio, 5th Avenue Glacier Park Throw from Pendleton, Houston Throw from Fab.com.

I was outdoors for approximately 20 minutes yesterday, and no joke: I was so cold, my ears ached. The sad, sad reality of winter in Philly is this: Mild ol’ December always lulls us into believing, Hey, this isn’t so bad!, but then January and February come, bringing the absolute worst of it, so you’d better be prepared. And what better way to ride out the snow, ice and bitter cold than on the couch in front of a Netflix marathon shrouded in a cozy new throw blanket that wraps alllll the way around, maybe even twice? Thought so.

Please, let your fingers do the shopping today and get warm at last. Piping mug of hot cocoa not included, but highly recommended.  Read more »

Home Staging 101: A Philly Pro on How to Style Your House to Sell Fast

There’s almost nothing more stressful than selling a house — except, maybe, shopping for one. Three years ago when I was house hunting, I remember having a reeeeeally hard time seeing past some of the homeowners’ decor choices: the gold gilded mirrors, the odd little knick knacks, the kids’ toys everywhere.

“Many times, homeowners forget they’re selling the building, not their home, exactly,” says Ali Kutner, staging coordinator at the Kensington-based interior design and staging firm Sunflower Creations. “New buyers want to come in and make it their home, and they don’t want to think of it as someone else’s home.”

The goal, Kutner explains, is to strike a balance between a presenting a home that’s a total blank slate (i.e. completely stark and empty) and one that feels overly lived-in (i.e. tired, worn out furniture; family photos adorning every wall). Why? To give the buyer an idea of how they can use the space while leaving room for them to visualize it as their own. Doing so, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, could help your home sell at a higher price, and maybe even faster to boot; Kutner says many of the homes she stages sell within 30 days.

Ready to get started? Consider this your cheat sheet for staging your home like a pro.  Read more »

5 Ways to Transform Your Living Room with Almost No Effort

If it’s on your 2017 to-do list to rethink, well, every square inch of your home’s decor, don’t panic. You don’t have to throw everything away and start from scratch. (Although, if you’re still holding on to your college futon, it’s probably time to upgrade.) In fact, you can change the entire look and feel of a room with very little money and almost no effort. Don’t believe me? Here are five easy things I’ve done in my own living room to refresh my style without a total overhaul.  Read more »

27 Ways to Celebrate Halloween Season in Philadelphia

Halloween is fast approaching, friends, so it’s high time you locked down your plans. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 27 Halloween events happening around town, from costume fêtes to costume pub crawls to costume runs and plenty more. (Seriously, don’t be that guy who shows up without a costume, okay?) Here’s to a frighteningly fantastic Halloween in Philly.

Read more »

Why’s Everyone Freaked Out About Cape May Beach?

Photography by Ryan Collerd; photograph illustration by Alyse Moyer.

Photography by Ryan Collerd; photograph illustration by Alyse Moyer.

If you really squint at the shape of New Jersey, it looks like a malformed hand pointing angrily at the ocean. And the fingertip that’s jabbing at Mother Nature is Cape May, the southernmost city in the state, where my family has owned a home since 1964. For the most part, Cape May is a sleepy Shore town with an everybody-knows-everybody vibe. It’s the sort of place where most residences, even businesses, don’t lock the doors. Read more »

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