An 1860s Philadelphia Row Home Aces the Retro Eclectic Look

published May 23, 2018

An 1860s Philadelphia Row Home Aces the Retro Eclectic Look

published May 23, 2018
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Anne Thomas and Matt Thomas
Location: Philadelphia, Pennslyvania
Size: 3,100 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

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“When Matt came across the listing for this house, we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been snatched up yet for the price it was listed at, the square footage, and for neighborhood it is in,” confesses designer Anne Thomas. “It had been on and off the market for a few years and from the minute we saw the listing we knew that we wanted to buy it, but we just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop—what is wrong with this house that no one else has bought it yet? When we finally toured the house for the first time, we began to realize why it hadn’t sold.”

Anne, who is a designer with Havenly, explains what their home looked like before they purchased it: “I had previously worked at Anthropologie for seven years as a display designer before transitioning into the world of home staging and interior design. I understand how important the layout and flow of a space is, and the previous owners had the house set up all wrong! The furniture was placed in spaces that were either way too big or way too small for it, many of the rooms didn’t have rugs, or the layout was just completely nonsensical. The walls were all kinds of funky or unattractive colors that made the rooms feel smaller than they were, and one bedroom even had chair rails nailed into rectangles all over the wall with chalkboard paint inside each one! As a prospective buyer, you needed to have a really good imagination to see the potential for this house—it needed a serious facelift!

So that’s what we did! Our house has great bones, so we’ve just strived to uncover them! We got to work right away painting, fixing the baseboards in every room, taking off the burglar bars that were installed on EVERY window on the first floor, etc… it was a lot of work, but we’ve put a lot of love into it and really made it our own. The house will always feel like a work in progress (the bathrooms are next!) but now that we have it to place where we are really proud of it, we love to have friends over, have dinner parties, and enjoy the space.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Retro eclectic.

Inspiration: Traveling. We love to bring home items that we find from our trips wherever we go.

Favorite Element: The tall ceilings! Our row home was built around the 1860s in a style that you don’t see too often in Philadelphia anymore, so its 11-foot ceilings are pretty unique. They make each room feel so much bigger.

Biggest Challenge: Un-doing shoddy “home improvement” elements from the previous owners. I especially love a good DIY, but from updating the house we’ve come across so many slap-job solutions that the previous owners did that takes a lot of work to make look better or make more functional sense. We always have to remind ourselves though: It’s just cosmetic, we can fix it!

Proudest DIY: When we first moved in, the living room space was so large it was almost overwhelming. We needed a solution for the large wall spaces on either side of the fireplace. Finally, we came up with the idea to do floating shelves. From working at Anthropologie, I had experience in building fixtures and the like, but those only have to live for a few months before we would change them again! I was nervous to build shelves that would be so permanent and so focal, but Matt convinced me that I could do it, and I got to work building these hollow shelves, staining them, and installing them… and they have become such a great place to display all the things we have collected and love! Matt’s “But you could just make that!” philosophy can be both a blessing and a curse, but this time I am happy he encouraged me to give it a try.

Biggest Indulgence: Our vintage rugs.

Best Advice: Step one: Be patient. If you want a house that is collected and curated, with items in it that hold meaning to you from your travels and give your space more personality, you have to allow yourself time to stumble across the right pieces. Step two: Don’t ever walk by an antique store without going in!


Living Room – Behr — Sculptor’s Clay
Dining Room/Kitchen – Valspar — Distant Valley
Bedroom A – Behr — Silver Drop
Bedroom B – Behr — English Channel (accent wall)
Master Bedroom – Behr — Sculptor’s Clay

Ragkorn Plant basket — IKEA
White planter — Vintage At Home Modern
White Cat — Vintage At Home Modern
Mirror — Vintage jinxed
Flower Prints — Vintage from Amsterdam
Wall hanging — Free People
Water color maps — Done by Anne’s grandfather
Table — ReStore resale thrift

Burrard Sofa – Article
Wooden Mid-Century Modern Chairs – Vintage family heirloom
Yellow Mid-Century Modern Arm Chair – Vintage flea market find
Oscarine Lucite Coffee Table — Anthropologie
Persian Rug – Antique store
West Elm Felt Color Block Pillow — West Elm discontinued
Piano – Family heirloom
Rivta Curtains — IKEA
Basket tray on shelf – Vintage from The Resource Exchange
Marble plant stand — Vintage from Jinxed
Girl Silhouette Drawing — Vintage At Home Modern
Pink and Orange Vintage Print — Vintage At Home Modern
Architectural sketches — Done by Anne’s dad
Billy Murray Steve Zissou Portrait — Done by Anne

Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table – West Elm
Olga Rug – RugsUSA
China Cabinet — Antique store
Glass shelves — IKEA
Gold shelf brackets — Vintage
Bar cart — Target discontinued
Clive 8 arm Brass Chandelier — Crate and Barrel
Wire Dining chair

Backsplash tile -Tile Esque Carrara Marble Tile in Herringbone Pattern
Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Tile — Home Depot
Rug — vintage — Antique store
Sculptural Glass Globe Pendant Lights — west elm

The Gray Barn Spade Snap Bed in Weathered Nickel Finish — Overstock
Wooden frame over bed — Resource Exchange
Art in wooden frame — Done by Anne
Pencil drawing in silver frame — Vintage At Home Modern
Dresser — Vintage HetHout
Mirror — Vintage Jinxed
Embroidered Border Curtain — West Elm
Archive Shelves – Article
Abacuses — Vintage from various antique stores
Faceted Ceramic Large Lamp Base — Target
Satsumas Plant Stand — IKEA
Mudcloth pillows — Stitched by Grace NY (Etsy)

Marte platform bed — Urban Outfitters (discontinued)
Leather ottoman — Antique store
Upholstered Ottoman — HomeGoods
Dresser — Craigslist
Blaine Rug — Anthropologie
Embrace Chair — Article
Mud Cloth Blanket — Vintage
Pink tassel pillows — H&M (discontinued)
Ivory Fringe Lumbar Pillow — World Market
Coral And Blue Geometric Kalea Matelasse Coverlet – World Market

Console table — Made by Anne
Desk — Made by Matt
Shelving — DIY by Matt and Anne
Valby Ruta Rug – IKEA
American flag — Vintage

Zig Zag Texture duvet — West Elm
Stella Bed – West Elm
Bamboo Frame Silk Painting — Vintage At Home Modern
Shag rug — RugsUSA
Persian rug — Antique
Mid-century Mini console — West Elm
Mid-century nightstand — West Elm
Sven Charme Tan Sofa — Article
Gold side table — HomeGoods
Gold Wall Medallion — Antique store
Leavenworth Marble coffee table — Anthropologie
Dresser — Vintage

Thanks, Anne and Matt!

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