This South Philly Home Has 100 Plants, a DIY Fireplace, and a Heart-Shaped Window

published Sep 21, 2020

This South Philly Home Has 100 Plants, a DIY Fireplace, and a Heart-Shaped Window

published Sep 21, 2020
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Bedrooms
Square feet
1000
Sq ft
1000

Name: Valerie Green
Location: Philadelphia, Pennslyvania
Size: 1000 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

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Valerie has lived in Philly for about 17 years now, and after graduating from Drexel University, she’s been working at the Urban Outfitters Home Office, on the Women’s Design team. She’s lived all over the city, from West Philly to Center City to North Philly and now has settled in South Philly. And after renting for several years, Valerie met with a realtor friend to start looking at houses. She shares her home story below:

Credit: Carina Romano

“I looked at my house on Halloween (my favorite holiday) and honestly, once I saw the heart shaped window in the door, the exposed brick, and the claw foot tub in the bathroom, I was sold. The size is perfect for me and the location is great! The house was renovated just before I bought, and while very nice, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so I’ve spent the past few years changing anything I can without undergoing too many major renovations. It’s nice to take things slow and work on my own time since nothing is urgent (and is pretty much all aesthetic) and big things like the plumbing, electricity, walls, floors, etc. are done.

Credit: Carina Romano

Before I bought this house, I could barely hang a shelf without 10 phone calls to my dad with questions, but over the past few years I have amassed a collection of tools that I actually know how to use; wood and hardware and other miscellaneous supplies and have become quite handy. I still constantly call my dad needing advice for every project but I feel pretty confident with tiling, building small pieces of furniture, drywalling, and so many other things! Next up I’ll be building a few more pieces of furniture and someday I hope to finish tiling my entire bathroom (which I started over a year ago).”

Credit: Carina Romano

This block has turned out to be one of the best things about this house; it’s a small street so it stays relatively quiet, and I’ve learned from my neighbors that at one point just about everyone on the block was related and I love that history. The neighbors have all been great… at any given time there are people out chatting with each other in the street; we help each other out with errands and dog sitting and plant watering; my one neighbor always shares her “Sunday Gravy” with me. There’s such a nice community feeling that has really made me appreciate living here, and it feels so much more important now. 

Credit: Carina Romano

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I feel like my style is a mix, with a lot of greenery to tie it all together. I try to just buy things I’m drawn to and figure out a way later to make it all work together. The way I see it, if I go with my gut and buy or make what I love, somehow it will all blend together. I guess I would say I’m a mix of vintage-rustic-slightly modern-boho eclectic… that’s a style, right?! I tend to change my mind all the time which makes it hard to pinpoint a style. One month I’ll want a rustic cabin-type space, the next I want something fancier, sometimes I want a clean minimal space, and other times I want to go the maximalist route. I’m constantly moving things around or re-working a room and generally end up doing everything a few times before I’m happy with it, but that’s just the way I work! 

Credit: Carina Romano

I love having art on my walls, and I’m so lucky to have so many talented friends and family members who have gifted me their amazing work. I have other pieces mixed in that were gifts or bought locally from the artists, as well as some pieces I’ve made, and I’ve also started framing drawings from my 5-year-old nephew and 3-year-old niece and those are some of my favorites. 

The most important thing for me though is to have a home that feels comfortable, welcoming, and calming with lots of little things to look at and I hope I’ve achieved that. I love having friends over and always want people to feel at home when they are here, and not afraid to get comfortable or worry about making a mess. 

Credit: Carina Romano

Plants are definitely a huge part of my home and style. My dad is a landscape architect and nursery owner, my mom and older sister are amazing gardeners, and my little sister is a tropical horticulturist, so I guess you would say it runs in the family!! I have so many plants but I just can’t stop! Every time I look around I find a new spot that needs to be filled with a new plant. Or I discover a new plant that I just HAVE TO HAVE. My sister helps with my constant questions on how to keep my plants happy and diagnose what they need, and also helps me find a lot of the specific plants I’m searching for. Whenever I come back to Philly from a trip home to Rhode Island, I’m that person on the train lugging bags of plants around. 

Credit: Carina Romano

Inspiration: I don’t really have a specific point of inspiration; of course seeing what people have done on social media is always inspirational, and I especially love seeing something I like and then figuring out how to do that myself or make it work in my space. I also like to look at VERY expensive real estate to see what people do with their row homes and then think about how to incorporate some of that into my space and with my budget. It also doesn’t hurt that I work in a very inspirational office full of talented and creative people! 

Favorite Element: My front door! I don’t even generally like heart motif things but this door is just so cute and I fell in love. South Philly has lots of interesting vintage doors and I’m so happy to have one of my own!

Credit: Carina Romano

Biggest Challenge: Dealing with living in a narrow row home and figuring out ways to make it unique can be a bit of a challenge. So many houses here have the exact same layout, so I’ve really been trying to turn the space into my own. I especially wanted to blend the somewhat awkwardly placed powder room so I built bookcases around the doorway, added a more interesting old door (purchased from a local guy off Craigslist) and now it’s one of my favorite spots in the house, showcasing all my books and trinkets. 

I’ve also had my fair share of construction issues with this 100-year-old house, as I’m sure many have with their homes! But I’ve just plowed through the issues, with lots of tears and then help from my family and recommendations from friends and neighbors, and hopefully I’ve made it through the worst of it (knock on wood)!

Credit: Carina Romano

Proudest DIY: My proudest DIY would have to be my fireplace. I’ve always wanted a fireplace and have been dying for a vintage marble one, and once I bought this house, I knew I had to make it happen somehow. My dad built me a “chimney” between the dining room and living room with an opening for a fireplace, and then my friend and I were shopping and miraculously found the perfect vintage marble fireplace façade at Beaty American, one of my favorite places for reclaimed/salvaged materials. I cut down and added beams as a mantel, salvaged from the Divine Lorraine Hotel (my favorite building), also bought from Beaty American. I installed some brick tile to blend in with the exposed brick wall and added the (electric) fireplace. I barely ever use the fireplace function but I love having such a big centerpiece that I made and I’m always changing up the decor on the mantel. 

I’ve done a lot of other DIY projects in the house as well; I made the shell light sconces in the entryway from candle holder… I turned a plain cabinet into a concrete topped island in the kitchen… made the bench in my bedroom and little table by my couch… added the wood posts and beams in the kitchen along with the shiplap (with some help), I did all the tiling in the kitchen (with help for the floor)… swapped most of my builder-grade interior doors with vintage/salvaged doors… and probably more that I’m forgetting!

Credit: Carina Romano

Biggest Indulgence: All my plants! I have surpassed my goal of 100 plants and see no sign of stopping! Luckily I get nice natural light in the house to keep everyone alive and happy. 

Best Advice: Try not to make impulse decisions, and don’t rush to decorate without spending time in your space it first, to see what you really need to make it work for you. I don’t always believe the rule that “form follows function” but it is important to keep the function in mind when designing and decorating!

What’s your best home secret? Don’t get hung up on the one function something is listed as… stepstools and chairs can be plant stands, rugs as wall hangings, blankets made into pillow covers, cups into planters… think outside the box! 

Resources

Credit: Carina Romano

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living Room — Sherwin Williams Peppercorn
  • Entry Way Wall — Pink Phenomenon- Valspar color/Sherwin Williams paint
  • Kitchen — Behr Polar Bear
  • Bedroom — Behr Linen White
  • Powder Room — Anthropologie “Pacifico Palms” wallpaper
Credit: Carina Romano

ENTRY

  • Wall Color — Pink Phenomenon; Valspar color/Sherwin Williams paint
  • Mirror — Target
  • Wall sconces — Vintage candle sconces DIY’d into lamps; purchased from an antique store in my hometown in RI
  • Table — Target
  • Baskets — Target
  • Shell dish — Urban Outfitters
  • Welcome tray — Anthropologie
  • Plant stands —Terrain
  • Planters — Urban Outfitters, Terrain, Ikea
  • Art by friends and family, plus a photo from W magazine that I’ve always loved and kept since college
  • Air plant and hanger — Gift from a friend from Moon + Arrow
Credit: Carina Romano

LIVING ROOM

  • Jollene sectional — Macy’s 
  • Rug — Target
  • TV Bench — Craigslist find
  • Chest/coffee table — Antique gift from my parents
  • Pillows and blankets — Mix of Urban Outfitters, and homemade pillows from mudcloth fabric purchased at local street fair
  • Stained Glass — Gift from my mom
  • Marble fireplace façade and wood mantel — Beaty American
  • Plant pots — Urban Outfitters, Ikea,
  • Marble keystone — Carved by my dad from marble piece given to me by my neighbors from their home
  • Mirror — Vintage
  • Macrame — Made by me
  • Floor lamp — Target
  • Hanging lamp — Amazon
  • Side table — Made by me!  Once I was driving around with my dad, when he unexpectedly pulled the car over, grabbed a chainsaw out of the backseat and started cutting up a “great tree” on the side of road (he had permission!).  He gave my sisters and me each a piece of that cedar wood for Christmas that year…I never really knew what to do with it but moved it from apartment to apartment before realizing it would make a great table, so I added some hairpin legs and now I use it all the time!
Credit: Carina Romano

DINING ROOM

  • Table — West Elm Outlet (great deals on slightly damaged furniture…doesn’t bother me as I will inevitably end up adding more scratches and dents!)
  • Chairs — Amazon
  • Planter — Anthropologie
  • Marble tile — Beaty American, salvaged from the Divine Lorraine Hotel
  • Light Fixture — Pottery Barn Kids
  • Bar Cabinet — IKEA Ivar upgraded with paint, panels, new legs and wood top
  • Rug — Target
Credit: Carina Romano

DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM

Credit: Carina Romano

KITCHEN

  • Island — IKEA Ivar cabinet with concrete top made by me & shiplap panels added by me
  • Stools — Target
  • Open shelving brackets — Cascade Iron Co
  • Wood beams and posts — Beaty American
  • Wood shelves — Wood planks from Rhode Island, cut down and planed by my dad
  • Art — Macramé and woven tapestry by me, art made by friends and family, gifted, or bought locally 
  • Rug — Target
  • Hanging planter — Vault + Vine (birthday gift from a friend)
Credit: Carina Romano

BEDROOM

Thanks Valerie!

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