Two Creatives Share a Carefully Crafted Philadelphia Loft

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Overall shot of Living Room from Loft (Image credit: Nicole Whitney)

Name: Nikki, Josh and their cat Jonah
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The basics: 2 months, rented —1,500 square feet

Nikki and Josh have struck an enviable balance between “styled” and “lived in” that keeps their space from feeling overly done, while still being very fashionable. Perfect for hosting, working and just hanging out, their home is expansive with intimate pockets of coziness.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: In the wake of an intense and unexpected office romance, writer Josh Martin and graphic designer Nikki Whitney (along with their tuxedo-kitten, Jonah) decided to move in together, creating a shared space that reflected the comfort and elegance that was characteristic of their relationship.

Nestled in the backyard of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, their apartment shares a lush and shady street with the Belgian Café and dozens of contiguous Brownstones in Philly’s Fairmount neighborhood. Inside, the three level loft is designed with practical grace. The first floor is a semi-open layout consisting of an office space and living room. In the office, you’ll find two white-washed plywood desks hand-crafted by Josh and Nikki, along with speckled Knoll paraphernalia and thought-provoking knick-knacks. The living room, flooded with natural light from a large arch window, features high ceilings and an exposed brick accent where there was once a fireplace. A relaxing sky blue color scheme contrasts the dark wood floor, while a gold and wood bar cart invites you to loosen up. Overlooking the living room is the loft. During the week, it serves as Josh’s man-cloud where he writes, records music and plays PS4. Nikki can also be found up there, tapping into her crafting stash around the holidays (every holiday…). On the weekends, it becomes a guest bedroom, complete with a queen-sized bed, custom labeled water bottles, fresh towels and of course, Advil. However, more often than not, Jonah has already claimed this space as his own.

In the basement, you’ll find the kitchen, dining space, bar, bedroom, and a walk-in closet. In a space that was originally wide-open with four imposing white pillars in the center, Nikki used her background in Interior Design to fashion partitions throughout the space using curtains, shelving units, and a large kitchen island. The kitchen is modest, complete with a coffee maker and assorted copper pans and pots hung over the sink. A few steps away, a custom-built bar-top warms under three staggered tungsten bulbs in Josh’s bar, creating a cozy home for his ever-growing assortment of Whiskeys and Bourbons. Across from the bar, you’ll find a distressed walnut dining table with cast iron legs, overlooked by a print of Claude Monet’s “Soleil Levant.” Just out of sight, the bedroom sits quietly behind a large palm and a white shelving unit stocked with Josh’s books of poetry, politics and the American West. The wall is painted a deep forest green, which combined with the palm provides a muffled, earthy ambiance. A dark wood enclosure housing the water heater rests against the back wall, sporting a cast iron latch that now ties in with the rest of our decor. Across the bed, between two flowing white curtains, is a makeshift walk-in closet that Nikki designed using curtains, hanging copper rods, and small metal clips, displaying her wardrobe in a way that makes the first floor of Nordstrom’s look like a Goodwill. Lastly, on your way out, a bulb-spangled Sputnik light hangs overhead in the stairwell. Its glow reflects off of an aptly cropped Franz Kline print, providing the much-needed illumination to guide you up the narrow wooden steps.

What is your favorite room and why? The living room. After years in tiny, cookie-cutter studios, the space and the character of the living room is literally a breath of fresh air. We eat dinner, watch TV and wind down there almost every night.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? If we could, we would add either a yard or a rooftop area where we can spend time with friends outdoors. Twinkling lights and white wine nights would make a great finishing touch to our dwelling. A washer and dryer might be nice too.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Our latest and perhaps one of our favorite acquisitions was a collection of old books gifted to us by Nikki’s mom. Her mother, a molecular biologist, and docent at the Whitney Museum in New York, gave us dozens of books on art history and a collection of classics that complement our home and personalities equally. Most of the book’s covers had a vintage, distressed look that went well with our aesthetic, and any that didn’t; Nikki designed her own cover for…

Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? Don Draper. The midcentury-modern style and metropolitan proximity would be right up his alley. Not only that but with the bar cart in the living room and the bar downstairs, he would never be more than a few steps away from a stiff drink.

Nikki’s words of wisdom: Simply put, figure out how you want to feel at home and create a space conducive to that. Also, a stranger should be able to learn something about you as they walk through your home. Take objects that are important to you and find ways to work them into your aesthetic. Anyone can copy a Target catalog and whip together an objectively beautiful home. If you really want to make it your own, pour your personality into it.

Thanks, Nikki!

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