Custom estates tend to highlight extremes. The budgets are big, the homes are big, and the decorating is grand. Customized luxury betrays an owner’s tastes in ways that can’t always be erased by deft staging or other realty sleight of hand. Sometimes the mix can be surprising.
There is a lot about this four-bedroom mansion to find swoon-worthy, for instance. Of note: the Joanne Hudson-designed gourmet kitchen. We adore the island, the built-ins and the interplay of the dark wood and the lighter marble. The estate also features a jaw-dropping tonnage of marble installed throughout the many bathrooms and the standard well-manicured landscaping. The master suite’s walk-in closets are closer to personal shopping boutiques and the fireplace is practically walk-in sized as well.
And then there are more curious details like pink shag carpeting, strangely unnecessary pillars, deeply purple walls and dungeon-style bedroom lighting.
Below, the divine and the curious.
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When most people think of the advantages of living directly on Rittenhouse Square, they probably think of proximity to chichi restaurants and lots of excellent shopping. Which is reasonable. But they really also ought to include the Philadelphia City Institute branch of the Free Library in their list of amenities on the Square. It is certainly among the choicest features for this one-bedroom condo lofted just above the branch.
The branch is named for the Philadelphia City Insitute, which actually first opened up at 18th and Chestnut in 1855. According to the Free Library, the branch has occupied the first and basement floors of the 220 building since 1957. Incidentally, that is the centennial anniversary of when the PCI founders (The Young Man’s Institute, of course) decided to let the ladies attend the fancy lectures. The Institute also hosted occasional concerts as well as night school. The branch is a gem not only for its David McShane mural (you might know him as the artist behind the Phillies mural project) but because it was designed by Institute member Erling H. Pedersen. He happens to be an architect who is also known to have worked on the Academy of Music, the Fairmount Water Works and the Valley Green Inn, among other city institutions.
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If you’ve lived in Fairmount, you know that one of the challenges to making your home in the leafy, fireworks-adjacent neighborhood is the parking situation. Which is probably why sellers at this North 25th Street home are throwing in six months of pre-paid parking at a nearby lot with the deal. Six months without having to drive in concentric circles around the Art Museum while stalking pedestrians and hoping they are about to get in a car and drive away could be worth a lot to the right buyer.
If the half year of free parking isn’t enough enticement, the home itself is lovely. It features many period details like high ceilings with intricate medallions and plenty of interesting woodwork as well as a decorative fireplace. One of the three bedrooms features an original arched doorway and an enormous bay window bench positively begging for the newspaper and a cup of coffee. And of course the charming old-timey details are paired with a thoroughly modern kitchen, replete with granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Read more »
So yes, as it turns out, we were going to make our decision about buying a house based on 10 minutes talking to a stranger. Considering how much we loved House 1, we just couldn’t wrap our heads around making an offer on House 2, which we also liked but had a potential downside we weren’t sure we’d ever escape.
We decided on House 1 and simultaneously vowed not to look back. We were choosing our choice! It was hard to tell what excited me more: imagining my sudden culinary genius in a dreamboat kitchen or simply not having to look at any more houses. The truth was, it didn’t matter. We traded ambiguity for calm certitude and I slept through the night for the first time in almost a week.
Making the offer and negotiating was another matter. Read more »
Strawberry Hollow Farm was once just a modest, 1,000-square-foot farmhouse according to architect Robert DeHaven‘s online profile of the project. That was about 300 years ago. Today, thanks largely to DeHaven’s work, the property has sprawled into a mix of historic details and modern updates covering four bedrooms including a soaring master suite.
The home’s floorplan reflects additions throughout the years of its existence. The kitchen and great room were added, along with a wall of windows and several decks. The original fireside living room, den and library remain. The master suite features post and beam construction and soaring cathedral ceilings. The en-suite bath includes a soaking tub and leads to its own private deck.
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After a year off the market, this Gladwyne property has been relisted at $1.25 million. You may recognize it from its features in Bon Appetit and Main Line Today.
The home features formal spaces including a be-muraled parlor and a fireside library. The dining room is ringed by custom cabinetry by Van Heynecker, and similarly luxurious finishes complete the gourmet kitchen (which also features its own fireplace). The formal living room boasts another fireplace and set of built-ins. The family room offers heated tile flooring and a grand glass roof. Upstairs, the master suite includes two bathrooms of its own and – of course – its own fireplace. The third story bedroom includes a cedar closet, sauna and shower.
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Condos at the Tivoli townhouse development tend to fly under the radar. If we had to guess why, we’d say that particular block of Hamilton is pretty quiet and sometimes forgotten. But considering the slew of developments in that end of town, Tivoli may be preparing for some additional foot traffic.
This unit is 3,000 square feet (the technical term for that in condo living is actually ginormous) and includes parking for two cars, two balconies and an entire master suite wing. The master wing includes a library with its own balcony as well as a huge walk-in closet and bathroom. Don’t fret about where to store your wine because in addition to the gourmet kitchen, there is a separate wine/bar area.
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Delancey Street zigzags east to west through Philadelphia and we are of the opinion that just about every block of it is near perfect. The blocks around Rittenhouse Square get a lot of press, but West Philly Delancey is lovely and Society Hill is no slouch, either.
This corner home has been on the market just shy of two weeks. It features a fireplace made from original Pennsylvania blue marble that dates back to 1831. The fireplaces and built-in cabinetry throughout are excellent period details but the kitchen truly stands out. The copper hood, exposed beams and brick hearth combine for a striking colonial effect. But of course the kitchen is full of modern luxuries and high-end appliances.
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Rittenhouse Square: where the stately elm trees are almost as old as the 19th-century homes and where a fully finished basement level is marketed not just as an in-law suite but as potential au-pair quarters.
This nearly 6,000-square-foot home features four floors above ground as well as the underground suite. There are seven bedrooms with five full baths and a powder room. Of course any home in Rittenhouse worth its salt also includes a library and a garden, and this one comes with its own 100-year-old elm.
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The very night I stood on the regional rail platform at Temple and found out we’d lost the house on which we intended to make an offer, we were actually scheduled to see another one directly across the street. In fact, we’d scheduled the showing just to be sure we weren’t missing anything else in the neighborhood before buying.
That night we tore through the house in a semi-blur. The bamboo floors seemed nice. The exposed brick was fine. In the 7 p.m. darkness, the backyard seemed good enough. We were morose. We were running late after ogling another house around the corner and could see the owners outside waiting in their car. We mostly wanted to go home and sulk. And eat dinner.
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