Instead of Moving, This Family Turned Their Chestnut Hill House into a Stylish Dream Home

The smart makeover helped the owners utilize every inch of space.

chestnut hill home renovation

Take a look around inside this stylish Chestnut Hill home renovation. Photograph by Rebecca McAlpin

The story of this 2019 Chestnut Hill reno is sort of like an episode of HGTV’s Love It or List It. This was the owners’ first home, and as their family grew, so did their needs. Plus, the setup left them uninspired. Frequent travelers, they’d stay in cool hotels and Airbnbs; when they’d come home, “They’d kind of be bummed out,” says designer Nicole Cole. The owners began regularly searching new home listings but loved this house’s location so much that they decided to renovate instead.

The couple brought on Cole — a Navy vet turned designer and owner of Vestige Home — to redo the first-floor living areas. She nailed their requests (a dog-and-kid-friendly space that’s functional and also grown-up, incorporating mid-century and Danish modern elements) in sophisticated fashion by being strategic with color and going bold when appropriate. “The owners told me the renovation changed their habits,” says Cole. “That’s a great testament to how design can change the way we live.”

“The wallpaper is modern but traditional. That’s something we’re always trying to consider in our designs: What can we create that’s going to feel timeless?” — Nicole Cole, designer


“Painting the trim the same color as the walls is our favorite thing to do,” says Cole. Here, that technique keeps things dramatic but still puts the focus on the windows. (The paint is Ashwood Moss from Benjamin Moore.) The rug is a family-friendly polyester and complements the artwork. A pair of comfortable oatmeal-hued Nuevo chairs brighten the space.

chestnut hill home renovation

Photograph by Rebecca McAlpin

Dining Room

Cole painted the existing wainscoting black and put up wallpaper from Cole & Son; “It’s modern minimalist and has organic forms but is also a focal point,” she says. She warmed up the wall treatments and Danish modern shell chairs with a live-edge wood table that was custom-made by Port Richmond’s Leeward Furniture.

chestnut hill home renovation

Photograph by Rebecca McAlpin

Living Room

Cole made the French doors the center of attention by painting them black, while the walls are a subtle two-tone (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace and Balboa Mist). The existing chair and sofa were worked into the overall design. Leeward Furniture custom-made the coffee table to fit in the smaller space.

Published as “Color Code” in the September 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.