How A Piece of the Mediterranean Landed in South Kensington

French doors and balconies with iron railings abound in Jeannie DeCarlo’s home on North Hancock Street in Old Kensington, which sold for just about what she asked for it last week. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted

Painter Jeannie DeCarlo, says broker Stephanie Somers, is “a tough lady. It’s hard to get her to laugh. But when she does, you know you’ve gained her favor.”

Somers, co-owner of RE/MAX Access with her husband Christopher, had many a laugh with DeCarlo as she set about achieving what seemed impossible: selling a one-of-a-kind house on a not-yet-gentrified South Kensington block for a price no other home in the area has fetched.

I also shared a few laughs with DeCarlo when I visited her home to tell its story. And in its story you find diCarlo’s determined personality and ultimately sunny spirit shining through. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: The Ultimate Sanctuary in Malvern for $2.75M

25 Mountain Laurel Rd., Malvern, Pa. 19355 | Photos © SASbecker Photography via Dana Zdancewicz, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning.”

—T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

It may be the end of the beginning for the owners of “The End of the Beginning,” but fortunately for you, they are giving you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the beginning of Chapter Two.

If you choose to take them up on the offer, you will assume stewardship — “ownership” isn’t quite the right term — of a truly unique ensemble of buildings that will make you feel better for living in them and sharing their bounty with your family, friends and guests.

For this estate, whose name is taken from the T.S. Eliot passage above, represents the marriage of an architect with a unique design philosophy and owners with an appreciation for both nature and art. Read more »

Vincent Kling House Restoration Wins Conservation Award

K Yoder Design’s restoration of a midcentury modern home in Gladwyne designed by Vincent Kling received a 2017 Citation of Merit from Docomomo US. | Photo: Jeffrey Totaro

Docomomo US, the American branch of the worldwide organization devoted to the “documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement,” has bestowed one of its highest honors on a sensitive restoration of one of the few residential projects of Philadelphia School giant Vincent Kling.

K Yoder Design’s restoration of Kling’s Smith Residence in Gladwyne received a Citation of Merit in this year’s Docomomo Modernism in America Awards, one of four such projects so honored nationwide.

Completed in 1960, the Smith residence received a complete restoration to its original condition in 2016 when a Society Hill neighbor of K Yoder Design founder and principal Kevin Yoder approached him about buying and restoring the house. The restoration also replaced deteriorated building systems and updated its fixtures, fittings and appliances to 21st-century standards. Read more »

8 Projects Win Willard Rouse Awards

Swarthmore Town Center West | Photo from Swarthmore College via ULI Philadelphia

Judging from the major elements contained in this year’s honorees at the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia’s fourth annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence, the city’s architectural and development communities have not only become masters at multitasking, they’ve managed to successfully complete their context sensitivity training.

Whether the design paid homage to traditional informal style, like Cope Linder’s master design for Swarthmore Town Center West, or made bold modern statements like KSS/Hollwich Kushner’s Pennovation Center and BLTa/Pelli Clarke Pelli’s FMC Tower at Cira Centre South did, in every case it fit in with its setting and enhanced its intended functions. Read more »

1911 Walnut to Be Mixed-Use, Mixed-Income Project

The Sansom Street elevation of the revised Southern Land tower proposed for 1911 Walnut. The Warwick Apartments, part of the revised development, are at the extreme left. | Renderings: Southern Land Company

Southern Land Company appeared before the City Planning Commission today with a revised version of its proposed apartment tower on the last piece of open land right on Rittenhouse Square.

Preservationists will be pleased with one of the two biggest revisions the company made to its proposal, and for those who’ve longed to live on Rittenhouse Square but simply don’t have the scratch, the second is a dream come true.

Plan Philly reports that at today’s Planning Commission meeting, the company presented a proposal that preserves both the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and the Warwick Apartments, both of which had been slated to fall to the wrecking ball in earlier versions of the project. Both of those buildings will be rehabbed to provide affordable housing units, and the tower itself will contain at least eight more below-market-rate apartments. Read more »

Room of the Week: A Punch of Personality You’re Going to Love

Photo courtesy of Henck Design

Black is always the new black, or so we thought. Earth-tone enthusiasts, we were shocked to fall head-over-heels for these fresh and funky finishes. Goodbye black; hello blue! Bright and bold looks like the way to go.

Personality is all over this pad. This room comes to life with vibrant details yet somehow stays sleek and sophisticated–but how? Lucky for you, we have the lowdown on what interior design maven Christina Henck has to say about making your home a hip–and happy–place. Find out how to get the look below. Read more »

Just Listed: A Standout Home in East Kensington for $585K

2401 Emerald St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos: Sandy Smith

Red Oak Development, the people who built the Parish House not far from this place in East Kensington, pride themselves on being a notch or two — or several — above the run-of-the-mill builders throwing up new homes around the city.

They seek to give each home they build personality through the use of local craftsmen, reclaimed materials and original design.

This brand-new townhouse that went on the market today oozes personality out of every pore of its being.

Especially on the outside. “We had neighbors asking when we were going to clean up the outside,” said Red Oak principal Anthony Giacobbe. Read more »

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 »

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 »

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