See Cool Furniture and Textures in This Urban Outfitters Design Director’s Home
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Name: Heather Davis; partner, Michael James Murray; and cats, Momma Cass, Lulu, and Maggie
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 1300 square feet
Type of home: Small rowhome
Years lived in: 5 years, owned
Heather Davis, Design Director of Concept, Print & Color at Urban Outfitters, says she’s always been “drawn to eclectic, playful styles that mix unexpected elements and I’m grateful to have a career that allows me to express that passion every day and a home where I can explore my love of contrasting textures and color clashes.” The home is a rowhome in Philadelphia’s Fishtown area, which she shares with her partner, filmmaker Michael James Murray, and their three cats.
“I have quite an obsession with textiles that in many ways led to my career and a healthy rug, blanket, and quilt collection. I have always loved thrifting and mixing together objects of all eras. My style is ever-evolving, but lately I’ve been enjoying mixing more Brutalist elements with the Danish Modern and Post Modern pieces I’ve collected. The raw naivety of that aesthetic is so appealing to me and complements the Outsider art I love and have collected over the years.”
Apartment Therapy Survey
My style: I may have to describe my style as Cluttercore. It’s a real mish-mash!
Inspiration: I was lucky to have grown up in a household that nurtured creative freedom. My parents, who were graphic designers, filled our home with art and design books and an eclectic mix of furniture and found objects. Graphic forms juxtaposed against organic held the perfect balance in their tension. There were no color schemes, nothing matched. It was a creative hodge-podge and that aesthetic has always made me feel most at home and most inspired.
I used to pore over my parents’ Terence Conran books as a child, entranced by the transformative interior spaces of the ’70s and ’80s. I think that really ignited a love of interiors and design and how a space can unlock your imagination or transform your mood. As a teenager, inspired by the psychedelic murals of ’70s interiors, l decorated my childhood bedroom with purple walls and giant murals of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” I don’t think I’ll be going back to that, but I am ready to start bringing color back in; I’m getting bored of white walls that have dominated the last few years of interior trends. I’ve always loved the Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston house and how their art decorated every imaginable surface, from the soft furnishing to the walls. That’s the dream!
I’ve always been inspired by home design that plays with original features and contrasting modern elements. I was hoping that when I started to renovate the house, built in 1919, I would uncover some hidden original features, but unfortunately there were no fun discoveries. To bring character back into the home I leaned into a love of Danish modern design that has warm hues, natural materials, and a focus on practicality and comfort. With a limited budget this felt like an achievable way to bring character into the house and a neutral backdrop to display my collection of vintage, textiles, ceramics, and art prints I’ve thrifted or picked up on my travels over the years.
What is your favorite thing about your home? The snug, with its wood-burning stove, is by far my favorite part of the house. I’ve always been captivated by the houses of Sea Ranch, with their minimalist and modernist designs, perfectly integrating the surrounding of their environment, and bringing the outside in. I wanted to recreate a small piece of that, with only 100 square feet to play with. I love the warmth and modernity of the plywood paneling and the coziness of sitting in the snug that has almost a cabin feel, on a chilly afternoon with the fire blazing. I also love being in the living room when magic hour hits — golden lights illuminate the room and light up all the plants like stained glass windows.
- Blue Tubular Chair — Moustache.fr
- White Oak Chair — By my extremely talented buddy James Mitchell of Studio Big Moon. I love James’s work and his eye for modern organic forms.
- Mid-Century Chair — Thrifted from a local flea market
- Moroccan Rug — Bought on a trip to Morocco in the souks of Fez
- Checkered Floor Pillow — Etsy Store CarpetPoufRug
- Mini Wood Burning Stove — Salamander SE Stove from Tinystoves.shop
- Yellow Wire Firewood Basket — Used to be a clamming basket, thrifted in Maine
- Painting of Mother on Wood — Artist unknown, found at The Modern Republic, Philadelphia
- Large Ceramic Bowl — LRNCE
- Twisting Wooden Side Table — Philadelphia flea market
- Chunky Wooden Plant Stand — Urban Outfitters
- Cacti — Ott’s exotic plants
- Black Plant Pot — Terrain
- Floors — Polished concrete
- Cladding — Furniture-Grade Plywood
- French Doors — To save money I repurposed the existing doors that were here when I bought it. I sanded off the dark varnish so they matched the cladding and replaced the hardware with something more modern. Hardware from Andersen doors.
- Kitchen Cabinets — Saved money on the kitchen cabinets by buying IKEA for the cabinet interiors and getting custom doors with a Shou Sugi Ban feel made by a talented friend, Anthony Angelicola of Fire on the Mesa
- Marble Kitchen Countertops — Master Countertops, Philadelphia
- Flooring — Concrete tiles from Bell Floor Covering, Philadelphia
- Tile Backsplash — After running out of money on the home renovation, I had to let go over the handmade tiles I’d planned for and went for something classic and cheap — 6″x 6″ square white tiles — the cheapest I could find at Home Depot
- Oven — Thor Kitchen Range – AJ Madison
- Farmhouse Sink — IKEA
- Kitchen Faucet — Kohler
- Wooden Chopping Boards — Thrifted from Brimfield Antiques Fair and local flea markets
- Mexican Ceramic Bowls and Candlestick — Brought back from a Mexico City flea market
- Checkered Vase + Ceramic Utensil Holder — Made myself at the Clay Studio Philadelphia, an incredible space with lots of great classes. They also have an amazing store with ceramics from lots of talented local artists.
- Green Glass Jug — Hay Denmark
- Woven Fish — Living in Fishtown, it becomes customary that you have a fish hanging in or outside of your house. I picked up this woven fish bag from a maker at a Mexico City craft market.
- Electric Kettle — Fellow
- Sconce Lights — Cedar + Moss
- Light over Sink — Olde Brick lighting on Etsy
- Fridge — IKEA
- Dishwasher — I spent some time looking for a dishwasher for a small space, the best one I found was the Bosch 800 18 and couldn’t be happier with it.
- Sofa — West Elm Outlet, Lancaster
- Embroidered Wool Pillows — LRNCE
- Sherpa Pillow — CB2
- Vintage Red and White Quilt — Stickball, fave new vintage store in Philly, thoughtfully curated.
- ‘Repair’ Quilted Art — Jeffrey Sincich
- Vintage Rabbit Mask — Flea market in Mexico
- Vintage Bird Mask — White Whale Ltd, Hudson NY
- Moroccan Grid Rug — Artisan Project
- Glass Coffee Table — CB2
- Plants — From Ott’s exotic plants or IKEA. Honestly my biggest, most thriving houseplants are all from IKEA!
- Slatted Bench — George Nelson for Herman Miller; Local estate sale.
- Knoll Cesca Dining Chairs — Facebook Marketplace
- Dining Table — Made by my partner out of furniture-grade plywood
- Pink Geo Rug — A design I made for Urban Outfitters Home, some years ago
- Black Post Modern Lamp by Ron Rezek — Local estate sale
- Flos Snoopy Table Lamp — Betsu Vintage Furniture, Philadelphia
- Pictures on Gallery Wall — Purchased from estate sales or directly from artist. I was lucky to get a Matisse lithograph from the estate sale of an ex-curator of the Philadelphia Art Museum. I also love the work of Emma Kohlmann and have managed to collect a couple of pieces from her exhibitions over the past few years.
- Tubular Leather Chair — Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe – Brimfield Antiques Market
- Mid-Century Looking Console Cabinet — West Elm Outlet, Lancaster. I also spray painted the hardware green, as I’ve had this for a while and wanted to give it a pop of color!
- Checker Bathmat — Hay Denmark
- Bathtub — Wayfair
- Vanity — IKEA
- Vanity Light — Cedar + Moss
- Mirror — Lulu & Georgia
- Floor — Concrete tiles from Bell Floor Covering, Philadelphia
- Wall Tile — Home Depot
- Penny Tile, Shower Floor — Home Depot
- Shower Screen — Wayfair
- Plant Pots — Terrain
- Faucets + Showerhead — Kohler
- Baskets — Some from IKEA and some from the Souks in Marrakech
- Brutalist Candle Stick Holder — Robert Welch
- Shelves — Made from salvaged wood
- Stair Banister and Bookcase — Made by friend Rocco Avallone. I couldn’t find anything as minimal as I had envisioned and had wanted to add something functional like a bookcase, which would also add privacy to the room. I ended up commissioning Rocco to make this for me. He’s one of those super talented folks that can teach themselves anything. He picked up a lot of skills renovating his own house, which were transferable to this project.
- Black + Natural Wood Contemporary Chair — by furniture designer Brendan Timms
- Black Chair Vintage Mid Century Chair — Mode Modern Philadelphia
- Cream + Black Moroccan rug — Etsy store Beniouraincarpets
- Tan + Lilac Moroccan Rug — From a trip to the Atlas mountains, I was lucky to get to see where these incredible textiles are made.
- Eames Molded Wood Screen — Ebay
- Bed + Dresser — West Elm outlet
- Bedside Tables — Etsy
- Art Above Bed — Paper cut by musician and artist Jad Fair
- Ceramics — Made by myself or collected on my travels to Morocco, Mexico, and Denmark.
- Hinged Light over Bed — One Forty Three
- Vintage Chrome Lamp — Betsu, Philadelphia
- Checkered Quilt — Dusen Dusen
- White Linen Bedding — Urban Outfitters
- Sun Bolster + Shell Print Cushion — Stoff Studios
- Cream Embroidered Cushions — Rose Bowl Flea, LA
- Penny Tile Floor — Home Depot
- Marble Shower Tile — Bell Flooring, Philadelphia
- Black Shower Hardware — Brizo
- Shower Screen — Wayfair
- Utility-Style Sink — Rejuvenation
- Bath Mat + Towels — Hay
- Wooden Milking Stool — Rose Bowl Flea, L.A.
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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