Habitat: A Character Study in Rittenhouse

A Rittenhouse condo gets a top-to-bottom custom design, transforming a blank-slate space into a homey retreat.

Living space: The walls of the home’s “public” spaces are wrapped in reclaimed whitewashed chestnut planks that are riddled with wormholes, creating interesting texture on a neutral backdrop. The exposed wood beams over the dining area create a natural separation that helps define the three connected spaces. Photograph by Jeffrey Totaro

When the would-be owners of this Rittenhouse condo were house-hunting, they knew exactly what they didn’t want: a cold, modern high-rise unit that felt more hotel than home. “That’s what they were moving from,” explains Vivian Su, of Spring Garden-based architecture and design firm Rasmussen/Su. “They wanted a place that would feel more neighborhood-y — more casual and relaxing.”

The solution: a fourth-floor penthouse tucked inside a beautifully restored brownstone. It was on a quiet residential street near the hustle and bustle but not in the thick of it, and the completely raw space could be customized to their needs.

Su and her partner, Kevin Rasmussen, got to work, creating a two-bed, 2.5-bath unit with light-flooded living and bedroom spaces at the back and front of the home and a central core that includes closets, laundry facilities, a wine room, even an elevator. The designers chose natural materials, including reclaimed wood and limestone tile, to give the space an earthy feel, and kept some of the original industrial elements visible, like steel ceiling beams, for a loft-like touch.

The result is a space that’s refined yet comfortable, modern yet warm, sophisticated yet accessible — and, most importantly, nothing like a hotel.

Library: The homeowners craved a space they wouldn’t want to leave — not even for work. So Rasmussen and Su created a cozy office nook with floor-to-ceiling walnut built-ins that would really make a statement. Photograph by Jeffrey Totaro

Master bath, left: The spacious master bath features a double shower, a double vanity, a separate toilet area, and a freestanding Victoria + Albert soaking tub made of volcanic stone, with wooden feet. Vestibule: The elevator is hidden behind the sliding barn door, a custom piece made of walnut laid in a herringbone pattern. The floor is black slate. Photography by Jeffrey Totaro

Published as “Habitat: Character Study” in the August 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.