Author: Camilla Brandfield-Harvey

Afternoon Obsession: Philadelphia’s Narrowest Homes

new-york-narrowest-houseAccording to Curbed New York and the New York Post, New York’s narrowest home (pictured left, in a photo from Curbed) has finally sold for $3.25 million. At its widest, the slight house comes in at 8 feet, 4 inches. To add to this wonder, the place has also been home to some famous residents, namely Cary Grant and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Inspired by this news, I went on a little hunt for Philadelphia’s slimmest digs. Apparently, this is a disputed issue about the web. A Philadelphia Speaks thread led me to a couple residences–one at 305 W. Oxford Street and another at 616 N. Second Street–that arguably grab the win at 10 feet wide.

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Afternoon Obsession: Doors of Chestnut Hill


A couple of weeks ago, I posted the Doors of Fairmount, detailing the long-established Doors of Dublin poster’s potential influence on local artist Allison Ostertag. However, I seem to have done an injustice to the Doors of Chestnut Hill, which have graced their homes well under my radar.

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Asian-Inspired Home Brings Feng Shui to the Main Line


Marketed as East Meets West, this Villanova property has both Chinese and Japanese design elements fused with Western materials and decor. It all starts with Genkan–Japanese for entryway–with a place to remove shoes before stepping up to the three expansive living spaces. The main attraction is a Great Room with vaulted wood ceiling–Western cathedral meets Japanese temple (it’s all “this meets that” here).

All other rooms follow the Japanese design: large and minimally decorated, with fresh wood and glass that seamlessly blends indoors and out. And it’s certainly worth highlighting that masterfully landscaped exterior with its pool and a calming Japanese garden complete with a winding walkway.

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Afternoon Obsession: New Ikea App Superimposes Furniture


With Ikea’s new app, a companion to its 2014 catalog, you can take it with you. By it, I mean your bookmarked Ikea item. The app provides awesome AR (tech-speak for Augmented Reality), allowing you to visualize furniture in any location you choose. Before you wander through the Swedish warehouse of cardboard and labels, you can be sure a blue coffee table fits your color scheme.

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Lunchtime Obsession: The Benjamin Franklin Museum

franklin museum

The newly revitalized Benjamin Franklin Museum, formerly the Franklin Underground Museum, is set to open August 24th after a $20 million renovation. The opening will be part of a two-day celebration with free admission on the 24th and 25th.

According to recent press, the museum gets personal with artifacts from Ben’s private life, interactive displays, and computer animations not unlike those at the President’s House at the Liberty Bell Center. Memorializing him as a printer, scientist, diplomat, founder, as well as a private citizen, the museum plans to educate and entertain visitors by way of Ben’s life and personality. There will be rooms dedicated to different aspects of his dynamic character, from charming to strategic.

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Afternoon Obsession: Stained Glass Homes

Pantone door

Stained-glass windows are usually confined to churches, projecting teachings and significant stories through a beautiful fusion of light and color. But several designers and homeowners break this trend, adopting and tailoring the union of colored glass and light for traditional and modern homes alike.

Last week Brit + Co. posted 10 inspiring stained glass ideas for the home. From doors to showers, homeowners have subtly incorporated stained glass with minimalist all-white, wood, or stone surroundings. The stained glass doesn’t clash or add unnecessary gaudiness but rather shines as it should. Designer-made or discovered at the flea market, each piece fits its interior space.

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Afternoon Obsession: Doors of Fairmount

Doors of Fairmount Poster

A longtime tourist attraction, the doors of Dublin, likely the inspiration for local artist Allison Ostertag’s Doors of Fairmount poster, are a thing of historical myth. According to some tour guides, Queen Victoria, mourning the death of Prince Albert, ordered for all doors to be painted black. The Irish rebelled by painting theirs vibrant hues.

Less colorful is the most plausible case: residents painted their doors a variety of colors in order to distinguish their homes during a period of strict architectural uniformity. The doors of Dublin have since become a famous characteristic of the city, amassed on posters by American ad agencies since the 1970s.

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Afternoon Obsession: Streets of Philadelphia


Great American cities often employ tourism campaigns filled with love. There’s “I Heart NY,” of course, on t-shirts, buttons, and cups stacked and spilling out of the numerous tourist shops sprinkled over the state. And the association with love is unavoidable in this city of ardor–between our amorous etymology (Philos and adelphos translate to loving brother) and LOVE sculptures at JFK Plaza and Penn’s College Green. And then there’s the city’s Love Letter campaign, which assures travelers via notebook scribbles that we’ll love you as much as you’ll love us.

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Afternoon Obsession: Shapes of Philadelphia


London-based graphic designer Yoni Alter taps Philadelphia with a neon wand in his Shapes of Cities series. From the towering Mellon Bank Center to the here puny Clothespin, he draws the cityscape to scale. He crafts other cities as seen from a particular vantage point. A lover of bright colors, popular culture, London, and New York, Yoni extends his heart to Philly, transforming a glass and steel skyline into an industrial kaleidoscope.

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Afternoon Obsession: Europe’s Sexy Adaptive Reuse of the Middle Ages


As a mixed-media enthusiast, from scrap art paintings to live-action and animated films, I appreciate creative symbiosis. In architecture and design, an amalgamation of old and new, or the right blending of styles, can create an aesthetically stimulating and functionally appealing space.

Such fusions work particularly well in Europe, where architects have access to structures dating back to the Middle Ages. Architizer highlights several renovation projects from Spain to Romania that transform 200- to 700-year-old palaces, barns and towers into residences, libraries or museums that acknowledge the past while welcoming the future. They’re also environmentally friendly.

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