The phenomenal Vaux Hill in Phoenixville should rightly be a Winterthur-style tourist attraction with a Gettsyburg spin. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, it was originally a 300-acre farm purchased by James Vaux in 1772. Vaux was an amateur scientist, but a successful and influential one:
At his farm, James carried out scientific experiments in agriculture, becoming the first person to cultivate red clover in America, and also pioneered the use of anthracite coal for heating and cooking purposes. Accounts of his experiments can be found in early editions of the Franklin Institute Journal.
This unit on the market in the Lippincott references the past without being slavishly historic. With a Duncan Phyfe (or Duncan Phyfe-style) table, modern art, industrial lighting, oriental rugs and African art colliding in an eclectic mix, a steel beam with plump rivets spanning 14 feet, floor to ceiling, represents both old and new.
The Washington Square apartment has multiple views of the park from 19 custom-designed windows.
This decor is so staggeringly awful and going-for-broke baroque, it’s admirable. How commendably consistent! The fact of the matter is that if you strip away all the elaborate madness–much of which is removable–there’s a real home underneath with serious potential. The indoor pool is quite lovely; there are some pretty hardwood floors; the outdoor patio is a major plus; there are high-end appliances; and a finished attic and finished basement, to all appearances.
This $2 million estate in Bryn Mawr has much to recommend it: The main house has four bedrooms, each with an en suite bath, and on the 1.5 acres of land–lush with centennial plantings–there’s a pool and a guest house. But what’s certainly the highlight of the photo gallery is the wonderfully iconic example of The Preteen Bedroom. Somewhere, the non-twerking ghost of Hannah Montana is smiling.
Along with several serious-bald-man shots of star chef Marc Vetri, a new feature from Houzz serves up three luscious photos of Vetri’s home kitchen, which he recently redid. As with Stephen Starr’s home kitchen, which I wrote about last year, Vetri’s is incorporated into the living space so that he can cook and be a part of the conversation at the same time. He told Houzz a few of the design elements he likes in a kitchen: old subway tile or antique tile for a backsplash; wood floor;
recessed can lights.
Photo of the house today by Laura Kicey
With fraught conversation over vacant land and properties in the news almost every day, it’s gratifying to see the occasional example of what can be done when one individual decides to fight for a dilapidated building and turn it around.
Case in point: This creatively reinvented, highly livable two-bedroom home on a side street was just an abandoned corner rowhouse when a local photographer Jacob Hellman, a collagist and scholar of abandoned buildings, fell in love with it. He liked the location, in particular: One block from Fairmount Park, in a neighborhood some would call Strawberry Mansion but a realtor would call Brewerytown, the house is tucked away on a quiet street, across from an empty field, in an eerie but oddly soothing post-industrial landscape. He also liked the fact that it had a south-facing sidewall that would afford the opportunity down the line for passive solar heating modification.
Once he was able to buy the home, Hellman transformed it from shabby dereliction into one of the neighborhood’s most unique private homes.
This extravagant three-bedroom house has a lot of the “unexpected,” as the listing puts it–but that’s primarily true of the decor rather than the inherent qualities of the home itself. From a bedroom with two different animal prints and contrasting floral patterns to a living room with an elephant painting and a large wooden giraffe statue, this is not a home that shies away from upended juxtapositions.
The freestanding bathtub looks like it came straight out of Waterworks, while another bathroom’s blurry sliding doors look like they were airlifted from Grandma’s row house. A Murano chandelier hangs in the entryway not far from a faux Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe. A candelabra in il vento.
Best of all, though, is the basement, which is fitted out to please the most curious child– or, perhaps, simply a curiously childish adult.
Houzz.com has a terrific infographic that allows users to see what it costs, on average, to remodel different rooms in a house–kitchen, dining room, etc.–and compare that price to other cities or states. For example, in the case of Philly kitchen redos, the average cost is around $35,000, which puts it in the top tier of kitchen renovations nationwide.
But other Philadelphia renovations are relatively inexpensive, like patio and landscaping. What does that say about our area? Could it be something, perhaps, about the number of day laborers who stand at Home Depot every morning waiting for work and are easily taken advantage of?
The blue-on-the-outside, purple-on-the-inside (like a gobstopper) Ingram Lounge is for sale in East Mt. Airy, and it’s being marketed as an investment opportunity with a “well-established clientele.” The bar is “ready for a new owner operator looking to start their own brand or expand an existing concept.”
May we issue a request to the new owner of this bar? PLEASE DO NOT ALTER THE INTERIOR PAINT OR TAKE DOWN THE STREAMERS.
Photo by Jeffrey Totaro for Philadelphia Magazine.
This house is now a home–but it certainly didn’t start out that way. When a young real estate developer saw the hulking shell that Philly Mag’s Emily Goulet describes as “a Grey Gardens-esque display of faded splendor,” he knew he could do something with it–and he renovated it in six months.
Once the infrastructure work was done, he and his wife called on the assistance of interior designer Mona Ross-Berman, who they’d contracted with as soon as they bought the house. The result, says Goulet is “a bright, uncluttered home that is equal parts sophisticated and family-friendly.”