Jenna & Jeremy’s Handmade Row House

House Tour

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Name: Jeremy and Jenna Avellino
Location: Old Kensington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 10 years; Owned

When they first set eyes on this house ten years ago, Jenna and Jeremy knew they were facing the daunting prospect of numerous years of serious rehab work. While this might discourage most home buyers, Jenna and Jeremy leaped at the challenge. And now, finally, the fruits of their labors are blooming into a beautiful, welcoming home. 

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Utilizing their design training, the Avellinos have combined their interest in DIY minimalism with family heirlooms and well-loved pieces. This is not only budget friendly, but also means that there is a story to accompany their decor.

Jeremy has his own architectural practice, Bright Common. Before practicing as an architect, Jeremy was a designer-builder and renovated most of their house himself, one room at a time. The past decade has been a time of unrestricted play. At the beginning, there wasn't a strong idea of the design direction for the home, but through the collaboration between this husband and wife team, the different spaces have been organically united into one home. Jenna is a freelance designer specializing in textiles, in addition to being a full time mom to their 16 month old son, Marcus Eben. She helped open the first Terrain store and continues to develop new products and styling displays, as well as designing custom fabrics and doing sewing work for Terrain and private clients alike. Her creative handiwork can be seen all over the home, from pillows to curtains to the artwork on the walls. 

Walking from room to room, one can’t help but notice how seamlessly they have married mid-century and industrial style furniture with elements of homespun comfort.  The recent addition of baby Marcus has further informed their design aesthetic in that now they strive to live with less clutter and to live in their space more purposefully.  

Rather than bending the house to their will (gutting, wall removal, etc.), the couple instead chose to respect and maintain the bones of their 137 year old home. Exposed wood ceiling beams, original inlaid hardwood floors, stunning skylights, reclaimed wood ceilings, a roof deck patio encircled by planter boxes for growing vegetables — everything is constructed with the whole in mind, which results in a cohesive home throughout their three floors.  And this sensitivity extends outdoors as well, to the rain barrels out front and the rooftop garden. Living in the city with a tiny cement yard can prove frustrating for those who long to exercise their green thumbs. The planter boxes were a huge success for the couple this summer as they grew tomatoes, peppers, squash, salad greens, eggplant and fresh herbs. 

It has been a decade-long hands-on journey for Jenna and Jeremy in their pursuit of their finished home. They will be the first to tell you that there is still more work to be done. As I look around at Jeremy’s homage to surfing, with his beloved surfboards displayed thoughtfully next to his ocean paintings collection, to Jenna’s handmade bird mobile above Marcus’ crib, the love that suffuses their home is palpable. By utilizing found objects, recycled materials, and pure craftiness, Jenna and Jeremy have created a space that is inviting and welcoming to all.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style/Inspiration: We try to collect mostly thrifted and handmade pieces; things that can get scratched and bumped and spilled on.  Nothing is too precious, everything is well loved. We like to combine these items with furniture and accessories that we make from found or re-purposed materials.

Favorite Element: Our favorite element is a 1960s church pew that we found on craigslist for $50 and use as a bench for the dining room table. We have an ever-growing tight-knit group of friends and family, and we wanted to be able to have them all over at once.  The pew alone can fit 8 people! Our dining room has become a perfect gathering place for all the people that surround us with love.

Biggest Challenge: Finishing. We have lived in the house for 10 years and it is still only about 90% finished. We have touched every square inch of the house, so when a room is "good enough" to use, it's hard to get the final details complete. We love to start projects and come up with new ideas. Finishing that last 5-10% is the biggest challenge.

What Friends Say: We keep hearing that our house is really welcoming and that people feel at home right away — its not over-curated, stuffy, or too academic. We like to play with what we have, things are always coming and going. We move furniture around a lot to find new layouts. After 10 years, I think we finally figured out what the living room wants to be!

Biggest Embarrassment: The exterior of the house. We haven't touched it yet, so it's not a good reflection of all of the work we have done inside.  Our beautiful neighborhood of Olde Kensington is changing; there is a lot of work happening and it’s such a great place to live. We're feeling the need to beautify the exterior so we don't have the grungiest looking house on the block.  I think our amazing neighbors would thank us.

Proudest DIY: The kitchen: salvaged fully intact double-apron cast iron sink, barely used 1984 Gagganeau wall oven and cook top, and salvaged schoolhouse chalkboard slate for back splashes... all totally free.

Biggest Indulgence: Radiant heated concrete kitchen floor.

Best Advice:  Everything takes 3-6 times longer than you think it will. Nobody is immune to this.

Dream Sources: Brimfield Fair with an unlimited budget, estate sales of the recently deceased who had amazing taste, and demolition sales.

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Resources of Note:

ENTRY

  • Bench: Thrifted
  • Shaker pegs: Handmade
  • Sewing machine table: Family heirloom
  • Mirror: Found and painted 
  • Stretch and Sew Fabrics sign: Bought at a yard sale
  • Rug: Ikea

LIVING ROOM

  • Leather sofa: Ikea
  • Throw: Wedding gift
  • Pillow covers: Ikea
  • Coffee Table: Thrifted
  • Sofa: Thrifted and reupholstered by Jenna
  • Pillows: Magenta ombre pillow- Boutique Textiles, Green pillow- hand dyed and sewn by Jenna
  • Quilt: Hand made by Jenna
  • Rug: Lowes
  • Frog lamp: Thrifted gift from a friend
  • Botanical wall art: Botanical drawings cut out of an old day planner and framed by Jenna
  • Ceiling: We exposed the rough sawn wood beams in the ceiling

BATHROOM

  • Double Sinks: Ikea
  • Walls: Waxed white oak flooring from our third floor
  • Shower curtain: Handmade by Jenna
  • Mirrors: Thrifted
  • Coconut heads: One is from Jenna’s parent's honeymoon in Bermuda and the other was found at an antique shop.
  • Floor: All natural linoleum sourced from Marmoleum
  • Bench: Found in the basement when we bought the house

DINING ROOM
  • Dining room table: Hand made by Jeremy (steel base and stained plywood top)
  • Chairs: Thrifted, soon to be reupholstered  
  • Bench: Church pew found on craigslist that we painted
  • Pendant lamp: Vintage, found at Brimfield Fair 
  • Rooster Lamp: Thrifted
  • Antelope barometer: Ebay find
KITCHEN
  • Cabinets: Ikea
  • Sink and metal cabinets: Found on the side of the road in perfect condition
  • Backsplash: Slate repurposed from old schoolhouse chalkboards
  • Floor: Radiant heated concrete that we ground down to expose the agregate
  • Rooster head: Made by our friend, Meg at www.paperstampede.com
BEDROOM
  • Bed: Hand made by Jeremy from salvaged wood
  • Bedside lamps: Ikea  
  • Duvet cover: Ikea
  • Chair: Thrifted and reupholstered by Jenna
  • Green dresser: Thrifted and painted
  • Ceiling: Multi-layered custom wood ceiling designed and installed by Jeremy which mimics the pattern of the floorboards below.
MARCUS' ROOM
  • Crib: Ikea
  • Animal heads: Thrifted  
  • Mobile: Hand made by Jenna (pattern from www.spoolsewing.com)

SECOND BATHROOM
  • Sink: Ikea
  • Medicine cabinet: Ikea  
  • Shower curtain: Hand made by Jenna from vintage fabric
  • Wood wall: Reclaimed roof rafters from the renovation 

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Thanks, Jenna & Jeremy!

(Images: Bridget Pizzo)

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Bridget is a photographer and writer with an insatiable need to travel and eat questionable foods on her adventures. She loves comedy, beaches, sunshine, flea markets as big as the eye can see, and her charmer of a dog, Boss Hogg.

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