A Bright Philadelphia Loft Is Filled With Plants and Toys

updated Apr 29, 2019

A Bright Philadelphia Loft Is Filled With Plants and Toys

updated Apr 29, 2019
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Name: Jody Freed and Jon Billett, with dog Yoshi
Location: Wharton Street Lofts — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years Lived In: 4 years, renting

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“When Jon and I decided to move in together, he had been living in Philadelphia for the past 10 years and I was living in the surrounding suburbs,” begins self-proclaimed Plant Queen Jody Jean Freed, of the story on how this loft became her home. “One Saturday morning, we randomly started searching what apartments were available in the Passyunk Square neighborhood and we stumbled upon Wharton Street Lofts on Zillow.”

Jody continues the tale: “The renovated loft apartments are located in the former Annuciation BVM Elementary School. The structure was built in 1908 by noted Philadelphia school architect, Henry deCourcy Richards, and remains on the National Register of Historic Places. That being said, the renovators were required to maintain some of the original structures in the building including the hardwood floors, master bathroom cabinets (formerly teacher closets), windows, and even original chalkboards can be found throughout the building!

With our shared love of antique character and the building’s location being in the neighborhood we desired to live in, Jon went ahead and scheduled a tour of two available spaces in the building. Since it was difficult for me to travel to the city during the week, Jon picked out our loft apartment on his own and just a few weeks later we were signing the lease. I never saw the actual space until the day we moved in! Now, if that’s not a trusting relationship, I don’t know what is?!”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic! A mixture of mid-century/modern/industrial meets an ’80s/’90s toy box.

Inspiration: Jon and I have a similar sense of style, but we also have a love of different collections. I enjoy collecting plants, while Jon has a collection of ’80s and ’90s toys, Bobbleheads, and Funko Pop! figures. When we moved into our home together, I wanted both of our personalities displayed throughout our living space. It takes balance in order to achieve the look and feel I want! Too much of one thing can become overwhelming or even stressful, which in turn becomes counteractive to what “home” really means to me. Our lives are filled with stressors in every direction we turn. When I come home, I want to feel relaxed and joyful in a healthy, stylish environment. That is what I believe my decor reflects.

Favorite Element: The combination of the 25-foot ceilings and the tall windows throughout the loft allow so much light to enter our living space. The bright white walls also help reflect the light to make it lively and cheerful when you enter our home.

Biggest Challenge: Finding a good balance of office space, guest bedroom, and storage space in one room is so difficult! That’s what happens when two grown adults decide to cohabitate together. You end up with double the stuff, but figuring out where it all goes is the difficult part. We really did downsize quite a bit, however. I donated about half of my wardrobe so I could manage my clothing in one closet. That one stuffed closet is also in the spare bedroom that functions as a work-from-home office for Jon, where our dog stays during the day, as well as where our guests sleep when visiting town. This also ends up being the room where everything goes when we don’t know what else to do with it (including Jon’s toy collection and my land of misfit plants) and it drives me crazy sometimes! That room gets a real good cleaning and organizing haul at least once a year in order to manage it and maintain the balance we need in order for it to function properly.

What Friends Say: I love your place! You have such a cool decorating vibe—and that wall. Wow! Those street signs are so unique. Where on earth did you find those?

Biggest Embarrassment: Our closets. Living in a relatively large city apartment, you would think we have enough space for all our “stuff.” But when you factor in a family of four and a dog in a two-bedroom loft apartment, every square foot counts! Jon and I try to keep our closets organized as best we can, but sometimes you forget what’s in there until you hit your limit of how many times things begin to fall on you when the door opens or how many curse words are used when trying to locate an item and then you know it’s time to donate again!

Proudest DIY: I’m probably most proud of the yarn wall hanging in the master bedroom (made by Jody). I had wanted a wall hanging for a long time to fit the wide open white wall facing our bed. After at least a year of searching for the perfect piece and coming up empty, I decided to make a decorative wall hanging on my own. Using a tree branch I found on a hiking trip in Ricketts Glenn, Pennsylvania, I used various shades, sizes, and textures of black, gray, and white yarn to create the perfect piece I had been dreaming about. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and I love waking up to see it every morning!

Biggest Indulgence: A combination of the couch and area rug in the living room. I believe that you need to have one or two quality staple pieces of furniture in your main living space. Then you can accent those pieces with more affordable, stylish accessories. I don’t believe that good style requires a lot of money. Being a public educator has forced me to live within a budget and get creative with my money! It’s actually quite simple to look at upscale trendy house decor images and find more affordable items that look almost identical. But at the same time, when you know that a piece is going to get a lot of use and traffic, then I think it’s wise to spend money on something well made so it lasts longer! The area rug we have now has been our third in four years of living here. Our first two were inexpensive and made from less durable fabrics. After having to spend money on two rugs that I could have just put towards the one we have now, I decide to get a rug made from 100 percent wool that can be cleaned and look as good as new over and over again!

Best Advice: Add plants! Not only do they add another dimension to your decor (and who can resist a bright splash of green or two?), but they are also known to reduce stress as well as purify the air of harmful toxic gasses. There are so many types of plants that can be used indoors, and you don’t need a green thumb to have them. My go-to plants for easy care are Sansevierias, Zanzibar Gems, and Philodendrons, or Pothos plants; all require low light and not too much water.

Dream Sources: I don’t really have a “dream source” that I long to shop at for home decor. If I want something that needs to be well made, I typically turn to West Elm. I like their modern design and quality products. If I’m looking for something that is functional or trendy for an urban space, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, I hit up Target or IKEA and also grab a $1 ice cream cone for each of us! Other than that, Jon and I love to go antique shopping in the areas surrounding Philadelphia. Not only do we get a day trip outside of the city, but we also find some really great steals! What I would love to do is be able to pick out some more pieces from either of our grandparents’ homes. I can’t keep count of how many times I’ve seen items at antique shops that my grandmother owned and wanted them.


All our walls are white, but I’m not sure of the exact manufacturer or shade! They were painted this color when we moved in. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the white—it’s everywhere! As someone who embraces color and prints of all kind, this is my first home with stark white walls and I was a bit nervous about it. I love a room with an accent colored wall, so this challenged me to use color in other ways within my decor style. In lieu of painted walls I decided to put three bright orange horizontal stripe decals across our main living room wall. I then worked in other splashes of orange through out the neutral black, gray, and white room.
Orange Stripe Decals – Etsy

Three Tiered Mirror Plant Stand – Etsy
Black & White Striped Cabinet – Pier 1
Table Lamp – West Elm
Circle Mirror – Yard sale
Wooden Tray – West Elm
Jewelry Box – West Elm
Marquee Sign — Target

(Image credit: Elaine Musiwa)

Peggie Sectional Sofa – West Elm
Pillow Covers – IKEA|
Faux Fur Blanket — Target
Marble Topped Pedestal Side Table – West Elm
Moroccan Style Rug – West Elm
Orange Vinyl Ottoman – Renninger’s Antique Market
Ladder Bookshelf – Pottery Barn
Reclaimed Wood Floating Wall Shelves – Hurd & Honey
Wall Hanging – Jody Freed
Woven Baskets — Target
TV Console – Wayfair
Vintage Amish Figures – Jinxed Philadelphia
Orange Tray – West Elm
Side table – Family heirloom
Vintage Globe – Jinxed Philadelphia
Sphere + Stem Floor Lamp – West Elm
Wooden Plant Stand – Family heirloom
Picture Frames – Target
Wall Clocks – Target
Vintage Street Signs – Leesport Farmers Market
Pointing Hands – Jinxed Philadelphia

(Image credit: Elaine Musiwa)

Dining Table and Benches – Family heirloom
Bookshelf – IKEA
Mid-Century Turned Leg Standing Planter – West Elm
Bamboo Tray – Pampered Chef
Antique Brass Candlesticks – The Slatington Marketplace

(Image credit: Elaine Musiwa)

Vintage Bamboo Bar Cart – Etsy
Refurbished Wood Wine Rack – Etsy
Heart & Hands Vintage Wine Barrel – Heart & Hands Winery
Love & Light Framed Artwork – Jon Billett
Vintage Wooden Shelf – Green Dragon Flea Market

(Image credit: Elaine Musiwa)

MALM High Bed Frame – IKEA
Bedding – West Elm
Pillow Covers – West Elm
Table Lamps – Pottery Barn
Side Tables – Target
Dresser – IKEA
Dresser and Mirror Set – Family heirloom

Circle Shelf – Target
Vintage Butterfly Frame – Weil Antique Center
Coney Island Beach Painting – Punk Rock Flea Market
Green Day Poster – J. P. Flexner
Tupelo Honey Print – Tupelo Honey Café

Thanks, Jody and Jon!

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