Philippa's Worldly Vignettes

Philippa's Worldly Vignettes

Virginia Jarvis
Nov 12, 2010

Name: Philippa, Craig, Isabella and our three cats Notorious B.I.G., Greta Garbage and Indira Gandhi
Location: Mt. Vernon — Baltimore, Maryland
Size: 3,600 square feet
Years lived in: 5½ — owned

Having spent most of their lives in South Africa and then Newfoundland, Philippa and her husband Craig brought their worldly sensibilities to Baltimore fuve and a half years ago when they purchased a spacious, 1860's row home. While the house remains a work in progress, the restoration thus far has been thoughtful and extensive and serves as a perfect backdrop for the many collectibles the couple has amassed over the years.

Anyone who shares a love of dramatic spaces would be envious of Philippa and Craig's home. Throughout the house, tall ceilings and gorgeous original crown molding, mantles and honey colored flooring take on ethereal feel against the subtle light filtering in through shutters the couple had carefully reproduced. The lush palette of wall colors catch and diffuse light to further help frame each carefully considered space. The front hallway, which was originally covered in an unfortunate floral wallpaper (a piece of which the couple has kept and framed below the staircase), is as commanding as it is unassuming. Two original mirrors are still in place, but appear almost humbled by the warm tan walls.

The kitchen was redone in crisp blacks and whites with the exception of the natural toned floor, which play perfectly with the lighter neutrals in the adjacent dining room. Between the flood of natural light that pours in from the many windows as well as the fantastic spiral staircase that leads to the back garden, I would easily say the kitchen is one of my favorite parts of the house. It is a superb example of having modernity while still echoing the past.

Philippa's enthusiastic passion for both collecting and design permeates throughout the home. Her vast collections of art, antiques, heirlooms and thrift shop finds come together seamlessly in well curated vignettes that are fresh and lively. Every object is precious without feeling off limits, giving the home a very liveable and personal feel. Although she jokes about fears of slipping into hoarder status, it is easy to see that Philippa's inspirations lie more with the likes of John Derian, Bobby Mcalpine and Axel Vervoort.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Slightly schizophrenic: African colonial safari meets reclaimed industrial meets Miss Havisham.

Inspiration: Science and Biology labs, Natural History Museum, Curiosities and Taxidermy, African Safaris, Axel Vervoordt; Gentlemen's Clubs and libraries, faded grandeur, gritty Baltimore and everywhere I turn in NYC.

Favorite Element: High ceilings, embellished moldings and treasures like the gilded mirrors and marble mantels. The fact that one has an uninterrupted view from room to room through to the rear.

Biggest Challenge: Slowly turning a neglected and run-down 1860's house back to its former glory; cat hair and clutter (obsessed with Oprah's hoarders and main aim is to avoid THAT affliction at all costs).

What Friends Say: My friends are always very curious to see what progress has been made. After all, they have shared every step of this bonkers journey with us!

Biggest Embarrassment: The basement: it is unfinished and looks like Fowles' The Collector should have been filmed in there… where one would find women kept in cages.

Proudest DIY: Wallpapering a map of Paris onto a custom-made giant frame with the help of a dear friend. Also restoring a chandelier (it was in 1 million pieces) – it was like restringing a gigantic necklace. Transforming a trash heap courtyard (with discarded fridge, stove and crack vials) into a garden sanctuary.

Biggest Indulgence: Recreating pocket shutters in the exact same profile as the missing originals - they were recreated by a carpenter who outfits yachts. Also, cutting down 5 weed trees that were starting to creep under the foundations (necessary but expensive). Finally, designing a bathroom without a loo because I hate how they look and it would have spoiled the configuration.

Best Advice: NEVER drive past a thrift store or Goodwill... some of the best pieces in this house were bought from thrift stores, yard sales and the Salvation Army and transformed with a coat of paint or a good clean.

Dream Sources: John Derian, Paula Rubenstein, Obsolete, Housewerks, Vanessa's Vintage Treasures, E-bay, Etsy, Brimfield Antique Show, ABC Carpet and Home, Darr, Freeman's Sporting Club, thrift stores, Salvation Army, Turnover Store, Goodwill, flea markets and yard sales.

Resources of Note:


    • Entry- Ralph Lauren: Sahara
    • Middle Parlor- Sherwin Williams: Thunderhead
    • Bella's Room- Sherwin Williams: Pussywillow
    • Bathroom- Sherwin Williams: Tinsmith


    • Large Urn: McLain Wiesand
    • Sconces: Second Chance (Baltimore)
    • Chandelier: Antique Center at Federal Hill
    • Bookcase: salvaged from a basement in a house nearby that was being rehabbed.


    • Chandelier: Howard Street Antique Row (Baltimore)
    • Large linen press: Second Chance
    • Horns: Africa
    • Glassware: vintage stores in Ellicott City
    • Sofa: Ikea
    • Occasional chairs: West Elm


    • Table: scored by my mother at a cattle sale in South Africa (it was bright green) and she lovingly restored it.
    • White urns: In Watermelon Sugar (Baltimore)
    • Large Apothecary Bottle: Housewerks (Baltimore)
    • Collection of planters, bowls and Ironstone: Vanessa's Vintage Treasures (Federal Hill)
    • Crocks: Brimfield Antique Show
    • Cushion: Thomas Paul
    • Portrait of Lenin: antique shop in San Juan, Puerto Rico
    • Large cream cabinet of drawers: Second Chance


    • Fridge: Liebherr
    • Stove: Viking
    • Cabinets: Mixture of custom-made and original (butler's pantry)
    • Lights: Housewerks (from an old theater in DC)
    • Farmhouse sink: Ikea
    • Station Clock: Anthropologie


    • Antique Bed: Turnover Shop, Baltimore
    • Canopy Bed: McLain Wiesand
    • 'Cut-out' wall hanging: Tord Boontjie at Habitat, London
    • Vintage fridge and stove: $5 at yard sale
    • Animal Cushions: Areaware (Shine Collective)
    • White chairs: Bunny Junior chair at The Conran Shop, NYC


    • Oversize chandelier: Housewerks
    • Salvaged shutters: Second Chance
    • Bath: Gift from dear friends
    • Tiles: Southern Sales Services, Baltimore (


    • Large frame against mantel: McLain Wiesand
    • Desk: Antique store in Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Drapery storage bins: Anthropologie, Housewerks and Brimfield
    • Collection of Gentleman's Steel-Cut buckles: E-bay, Vanessa's Vintage Treasures and Antique Row on Howard Street, Baltimore
    • Frames: Michael's
    • Glass Bottles: Home Goods


    • Georgian Desk: Inherited from grandmother
    • Snake prints and glove mold: Brimfield
    • Silver Brahman Bull pair: Presented to my father after an auctioneering gig in Houston, TX
    • Mid-century bench and two cream arm chairs: David's in Hampden (
    • Convex eagle mirror: Turnover Shop, Baltimore

Thanks, Philippa!

Images: Virginia Jarvis

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