How One Designer Created a California Oasis Right in the Heart of South Philly

Drawing on the owners’ Los Angeles ties, designer Ashli Mizell brought an elevated-but-relaxed aesthetic to this four-story Italian Market new build.

The dining room in this California oasis. / Photograph by Jason Varney

For Center City-based interior designer Ashli Mizell, transforming a four-story new build in South Philly into a California oasis came down to a few common threads: a lighter palette, a focus on tactile pieces and fabrics with sumptuous texture, and natural materials instead of color and pattern. Those elements were reserved for the owners’ art collection. “They have a great eye,” Mizell says of the young professional couple, one of whom lived in Los Angeles and wanted to bring West Coast vibes to life in Philly. “There’s a healthy amount of color in the art, which allows the furniture to be quieter.” Nowhere is that more obvious than in the living room, where an understated mix of neutral furnishings balances out a bold piece by Anton Henning.

That Golden State aesthetic flows from each space of the 4,800-square-foot home, which has an open floor plan — a boon for the couple, who love to entertain. In the dining area, both rough-hewn and refined materials lend an organic feel. A custom matte parchment table is teamed with cane-backed chairs, a wood console, and a brass-and-glass bar cart. “The juxtaposition of materials makes it feel very rich,” notes Mizell.

An elevator ascends to the roof deck, which mirrors the seamless indoor experience with its exterior kitchen and chaise lounges. And the Center City views rival any California scene.

The Living Room

Domino the Dalmatian enjoys the living room. / Photograph by Jason Varney

A cast plaster table adds a soft, sculptural element.

The Entryway

The entryway, which sets the California mood. / Photograph by Jason Varney

The space is directly off the street and sets the mood for the rest of the interiors.

The Den

The den has a relaxed aesthetic. / Photograph by Jason Varney

This TV hangout features artwork by Donald Baechler on the walls and a large suede ottoman selected for its durability — the couple wanted to put their feet up and let Domino curl up on it.

The Dining Room

The dining room in this California-style oasis. / Photograph by Jason Varney

The couple wanted the table to seat at least eight. The chairs are a modern interpretation of a 1950s design by Pierre Jeanneret.

“Our focus was on texture and materiality,” says Mizell. “In the dining room, the only thing that’s really colorful is the artwork. Everything else is just high contrast.”

Published as “California Dreamin’” in the January 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.