Meet the 9 Interior Designers Who Are Changing How Philly Looks Right Now
The once-rarefied world of interior design is now open to everyone, thanks to virtual design apps, interior design start-ups and social media. (Have you searched #interiordesign on Instagram lately?) But locally, a talented new crop of tastemakers stands out thanks to their up-front personalities, signature aesthetics and loyal followers. Here, nine women who are influencing the way Philly looks — and is seen — right now. — Emily Goulet
The Glamourati: Christina Boschetti and Barette Widell
Owners of Widell + Boschetti, NoLibs
How you know them: The residential design team has a fashion-forward look (they commissioned an artist to hand-paint those coral-pink brushstrokes on the walls) that attracts a heavy-hitter clientele.
What they’re loving now: Curved sofas.
Design trends they’re over: Accent walls, all-white kitchens.
Next big thing: High-performance stain-resistant fabrics from Perennials and Crypton. “Because everyone has kids and dogs,” says Boschetti, 41.
Favorite material to work with: Mohair.
Industry game-changer: Social media. “We booked a client in Chicago from Instagram,” says Widell, 35.
What they’re working on: A home for a high-profile Philly athlete, a Brooklyn brownstone, and a condo on the Upper West Side.
The Collector: Michelle Gage
Owner of Michelle Gage Interiors, Villanova
How you know her: She’s the designer all your 30-something friends are following on Instagram for eclectic design inspiration.
What she’s loving now: Wallpaper.
If her aesthetic were a restaurant, it would be: “Anything Kate Rohrer does,” says Gage, 30.
Design trend she’s over: Minimalism.
Where she sources stuff: The U.K. “I like wallpaper and fabrics that are made by London-based distributors.”
What she’s working on: Furnishing an entire Chestnut Hill house, a residential project in Audubon, and the ongoing renovation of her 1927 colonial in Villanova.
The Classicists: Kiley Baun and Betsy Helm
Owners of Shophouse, Rittenhouse
How you know them: This interior architecture and design duo (both 38 years old) has skyrocketed in prominence lately, earning national press — like a callout in House Beautiful — and a roster of high-end residential clients (most on the Main Line) who come to them for ultra-refined, sophisticated designs.
Design element they love now: “Colored cabinetry,” says Helm.
Best place to take a design risk: The powder room.
Design trend they’re over: Bohemian rustic. “And 3-D tile. Always hate it. Never will like it,” says Baun.
What they’re working on: A Villanova pool house and a new beachfront property at the Shore.
The Laid-Back Industrialist: Soné Ehabé
Owner of 4Walls Interior Design, Kensington
How you know her: The commercial portfolio of this 36-year-old up-and-comer is small but mighty: the renovations of four Benjamin Lovell Shoes locations, and the Western-tinged cool of Noble Bear Salon, arguably Ambler’s most stylish spot.
What she loves now: Different shades of green.
What she’s over: Glass tile backsplashes and shiny cabinets.
Favorite material to work with: Wood. “I love that you can cut one piece in a different way and it takes on a totally different feel, and that each species takes stain a different way.”
Go-to source list: Provenance for architectural elements, City Planter and Stump for greenery, and Garden State Tile for tile.
What she’s working on: A boutique nail salon at 6th and South and a speakeasy-style restaurant in Ventnor.
The Bold Modernist: Naomi Stein
Owner of Design Manifest, South Philly
How you know her: By her spectacular kitchens (the 38-year-old started out as a kitchen designer); by her before-and-after Instagram shots; or by any of the vibrant, layered spaces she designs.
What she’s over: The super-neutral, bleached California look, “especially since we’re in Philadelphia.”
Her best client advice: “People think they need to follow rules, like ‘Adults need dining rooms.’ If that’s not how you live, then you don’t.”
What’s next: The return of color, especially green.
Favorite material to work with: Marble.
Where she finds great vintage pieces: Lambertville and New Hope.
Her favorite space: The courtyard of Suraya: “I wish I could live there.”
What she’s working on: Furnishing a home in Devon; renovating
an old estate in Penn Valley built by the original owners of PECO.
The Restaurant Queen: Kate Rohrer
Owner of Rohe Creative, Kensington
How you know her: Rohrer, 36, is the creative force behind some of the city’s coolest spaces: Louie Louie, Bud & Marilyn’s, Harp & Crown, Irwin’s and Cheu Fishtown.
What she’s seeing: “For a while in hospitality, it was always about a theme, this theatrical moment. Now it’s about mixing residential comforts with a commercial space.”
Design trends she’s over: Industrial and farmhouse.
Favorite material to work with: Genuine leather.
On the power of social media: “When someone snaps a photo of an interior, it says a lot. It says they’re proud to be in that space. Some people will seek out a place because they’ve seen it on Instagram; it’s become this interiors catalog.”
What she’s working on: A restaurant with Val Safran and Marcie Turney inside the revamped Love Park welcome center; Michael Pasquarello’s La Chinesca and Little Sister restaurants; and a resort in Palm Beach.
The Artsy Upstart: Shannon Maldonado
Owner of Yowie, Queen Village
How you know her: You’ve shopped at her offbeat Fabric Row boutique, Yowie, or you’ve seen the Deacon, the Baptist-church-turned-Airbnb that the 36-year-old designed, or you’ve read about her on Architectural Digest’s and Bon Appetit’s websites.
Her design style: “A mix of high-low, playful, modern, and always pops of unexpected color and texture. Sense of humor is a big thing for us.”
Favorite material to work with: Bouclé or washed wool.
Design trend she’s excited about: Chubby post-modern furniture.
Design trend she’s over: Millennial pink. “I could be happy to never see that color again.”
Secret place to source art: Jules Goldman Books & Antiques in Old City.
What she’s working on: Ethel’s Club in Williamsburg — a co-working space and social club for people of color — and an event space in Providence, Rhode Island.
Published as “Making a Scene” in the November 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.