A 1920s East Passyunk Rowhome Gets a Colorful Makeover

Design Manifest used architectural upgrades and selective splashes to elevate the classic century-old South Philly home.

rowhome design

This South Philly rowhome design makeover uses color in selective and creative ways. / Photography by Courtney Apple

For city dwellers, maximizing space is a must. South Philly-based firm Design Manifest knows all about this challenge and eagerly took on the task of brightening up a 1920s East Passyunk rowhome. The renovation was “a practice in restraint,” DM owner Naomi Stein says; her clients “wanted it to feel airy and calm but also loved color. It was all about being picky with where we made our splashes.”

New hues came from subtly bohemian area rugs; a mid-century modern coral sofa; a green faux-leather banquette. But the real splashes were technical touches that add the illusion of space. Stein widened staircases (previously too small to allow furniture up and down), added custom metal railings, and installed French doors that open to a verdant back patio. “We wanted to make the outside feel included wherever we could,” Stein says. The polished design wasn’t lost on the neighbors: “When we had our install, they were all hanging out on the stoop and peeking in, like, I can’t believe this house!”


rowhome design

A La Cornue range and tiled hood center an expanded kitchen, while a vintage Turkish runner adds warmth to the industrial style. A tall pantry offers convenient storage for items that might otherwise clutter a countertop.

Dining nook

A cozy built-in at the end of the home looks out onto the patio, providing the perfect spot for a quiet cup of coffee.

Powder room

This playful space presented an opportunity­ to be “a bit wilder” with the design. A vintage dog painting is a nod to the homeowners’ love for animals.

Living room

Widened doorways and windows (softened by Ripplefold linen curtains here) emphasize ceiling height and evoke the sculptural grandeur of a Brooklyn brownstone. A custom-made floating credenza underneath a Samsung Frame TV adds to the home’s airy ambience. Functional pieces like a jute-look indoor/outdoor rug and a sofa upholstered in performance fabric allow for easy maintenance.

Published as “South Philly Serenity” in the October 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.