Laura Blau Rebuilds Her Dream House

When all is said and done, Laura Blau’s Pine Street residence (with the boarded-up window in this photo) will be the healthiest, most energy-efficient house on its block. She, her husband Paul Thompson and her three tenants will be much better off for the effort. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Architect Laura Blau’s firm, BluPath, specializes in coming up with sustainable solutions to all sorts of design and construction problems. She was an early adopter in this region of the ultra-energy-efficient set of practices and standards that go by the name “passive house,” which in English carries a connotation that’s more restrictive than in the original German.

All the same, many of Blau’s projects have been residential in nature. She’s currently embarked on one of the more comprehensive such projects, namely, rebuilding her own 1850s townhome on Pine Street in Rittenhouse to meet passive house standards. Read more »

Housing in Greater Philadelphia Got A Little More Affordable Last Quarter, Survey Finds

Housing in Philadelphia got a little more affordable in the first quarter of 2017, according to the figures in the latest edition of’s quarterly survey of housing affordability in 27 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Or it got a good bit less affordable.

It all depends on your time horizon.

In either case, however, the annual salary you need to afford the median-priced home in this area remains below the area median household income of $65,123 (as of 2015, the latest Census Bureau figure available). Read more »

First-Time Find: Design for Living in Old Richmond for $325K

2301 E. Cabot St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos: Dan Robnett, PLUSH, via Custom Philly Homes

The buzz these days is that Fishtown may be over — that is, it’s no longer a neighborhood where you can snap up a housing bargain or find a decent starter home.

We have in this designer home where Fishtown and Old Richmond meet evidence to the contrary.

“Wait, what?” we hear you ask. “A designer home for $325,000?”

Miracles do happen, and this is one of them. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Adams

The wraps are still on the cabinets and appliances in this almost-finished apartment in the Adams. Most of the units on the 12th floor are move-in ready, though one isn’t yet because it’s being used for construction staging. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Post Brothers’ Presidential City Rejuvenation Derby has entered the home stretch. When it’s finished, the iconic four-building apartment complex erected in 1951-53 by prolific Philadelphia builder John McShain (aka “The Man Who Built Washington”) will present a totally 21st-century face to passers-by.

Three of the four towers — the Washington, Jefferson and Madison — have been completed, as has the complex’s all-new on-site resort, the Sora Pool Club, which made its debut with a splash last summer. The Adams, the family-friendly tower of the bunch, is well past the halfway mark to completion of its makeover, with its upper floors ready to receive tenants. Read more »

Trinity Tuesday: Old-World Charm in Fitler Square for $845K

2420 Panama St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 | TREND images via Agent PHL

Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, including a large master bedroom and bath.

1,992 square feet of interior space.

Pretty decent for an attractive, beautifully updated home on one of those charming little cobblestone streets you find scattered throughout Center City (this one’s on the western fringe of Fitler Square).

This home caught our eye the moment the listing agent called it to our attention. Then we noticed a signal element in the photos. So we asked the agent: “Isn’t this an expanded trinity?”

The answer came back in the affirmative, which is why you’re reading about it here now. Read more »

Old House, Young Soul in Northern Liberties for $489K

841 N. Lawrence St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19123 | Photos via Janet Ames, RE/MAX Executive Realty

The little homes of Northern Liberties present modest faces to the outside world, and many of them still possess equally modest hearts.

Not this one, however. For its 100th birthday in 2010, its owner gave it a stunningly modern heart and soul, one that bespeaks both style and sophistication.

Actually, to characterize this 2,000-square-foot home as “little” is a misstatement. That modest facade conceals plenty of room for socializing, entertaining, relaxing and enjoying personal time. Read more »

You Have One Last Chance to Check Out the Debut of “Philly Street Flippin'”

Rachel Street gets down to business exposing a brick wall in the initial episode of “Philly Street Flippin’.” | Photos: The Michael Group

The home and design channels are lousy with home-makeover shows that buff up suburban Colonials and ranchers and make them better than new.

Rachel Street’s show “Philly Street Flippin'” is the exception to this rule. And if you’re one of those urbanites looking for home improvement inspiration, this evening (Monday, May 22nd) is the last chance you will have to view its initial episode — and, Street hopes, convince the brass at DIY Network that there are lots more people like you and her out there.

“I think it’s exciting for people to see a flipping show that’s set in an urban area, and especially in a historic city like Philadelphia,” she said. Read more »

Main Line Monday: A Modern Marvel in Wynnewood for $1.575M

1121 Remington Rd., Wynnewood, Pa. 19096 | TREND images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

Want a home with modern style, but one that is warm and welcoming?

You’ll find it within the white stucco walls of this one-of-a-kind vintage 1952 estate in Wynnewood.

Situated on 2.25 lushly landscaped acres, this home’s very informal layout makes it a place where the indoors and the outdoors mesh beautifully.

Large windows, sliding doors and skylights fill this home’s many living spaces and its four bedrooms with light and offer striking views of its park-like setting. Elements like the stone fireplace that separates the living and sun rooms add warmth to the home. Read more »

Narberth Church to Fall, Apartments to Take Its Place

Bye-bye, oldest church in Narberth; hello, 20 new apartments. | Google Street View image

It would be inaccurate to say that Narberth Borough officials are thrilled at the prospect, but the Borough Council did vote 5-1 on May 17th to okay owner Jason Gordon’s plan to demolish the vacant Baptist Church of the Evangel at 198 Elmwood Ave. and build a 20-unit apartment building on its site.

In fact, as Main Line Media News reports, it might be more accurate to say that the council voted to approve the project in spite of itself. The vote to approve came after the borough’s planning commission recommended the project be rejected. Read more »

Philly-Based Branding Agency Goes All In on Urbanism

At Media has made a specialty of giving new meaning to places like Baltimore’s Cross Street Market. The Philadelphia-based branding agency is now giving itself new meaning by focusing exclusively on “revitalizing our cities through thoughtful design.” | Photo: Courtesy Cohere

At Media founder Antoinette Marie Johnson has long had a passion for cities and city living. That passion has been reflected both in the clients the branding agency has worked with since its founding in 2009 and in the workspace it occupies in the Bailey Building in Midtown Village.

Today, Johnson announces that her firm will go all in on a mission to promote urban revitalization through design.

The firm’s new name: Cohere.

The word is a term that means “to stick together” or “to form a whole,” and it’s that “whole” part that Johnson wants to emphasize as she transforms her firm into “a company focused on revitalizing our cities through thoughtful design.” Read more »

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