Youthfulness Energizes a Philadelphia Townhouse

This once-stuffy federalist townhouse at Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood has undergone a transformation similar to Philadelphia’s very own. It was conservative and traditional, but artwork, youth and imagination have breathed new life in to it. Interior designer Kelly Nelson and her husband moved in 13 decades ago when she was pregnant with her first kid, now 12. “After I had my second child, the first floor, with its galley design broken into small rooms, was not working for our family,” she states. “It was either move to a larger home or renovate and stay in the neighborhood we loved.”

The remodel opened up the first-floor rooms and back courtyard. Nelson maintained a lot of the traditional moldings, wainscoting and built-ins but freshened things up with vivid colours, lively fabrics and abstract artwork. “By comparing modern choices with more traditional fabric and furniture options, we made a home that felt true to both the design of the home and our very own lively design aesthetic,” she states. Check out how this daring mix of new and old turned out.

in a Glance
Who lives here: A family of 4 and cat Shadow
Location: Philadelphia
Size: 2,700 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms

Kelly Nelson Designs

This narrow entryway sets the tone. High-gloss turquoise paint plus a vintage 1960s light top traditional wainscoting. A marble checkerboard floor underlines the jewel box first impression.

Nelson also substituted the original square door for this arched one to echo the shape of the front door and its transom.

Wall paint: Peacock Blue 2049-40, Benjamin Moore

Kelly Nelson Designs

This custom-painted cupboard was inspired by the colours in a Lucette White painting from the couples’ artwork collection. “We created a very traditional French torso more lively by painting it bright colours,” Nelson says.

Cabinet: Grange

Kelly Nelson Designs

Before, the dining area was very traditional, using federalist furniture, a brass light fixture and these china cabinets, which had glass doors. Nelson had the doors painted the backs a daring orange for a more modern look, then added tradition back into the mix with her brown toile transferware pieces.

“I like to use a great deal of color, but at a house this size it’s easy to go overboard,” Nelson says. She painted all the walls white and allow the color come in via furniture, artwork, accessories and accents, such as these shelves.

The parrots are vintage 1950s majolica pottery, as well as the pansy print is from Natural Curiosities.

Kelly Nelson Designs

Nelson ripped out the existing brass light fixture and’d Warren Muller, a favorite Philadelphia artist, create a special chandelier out of her grandmother’s depression-era glass collection. “This fixture set the groundwork for the home’s combination of traditional and modern elements,” she states.

Wall paint: Patriotic White 2135-70, Benjamin Moore

Kelly Nelson Designs

Toile and striped cloths on the parson’s chairs are a nod to classic townhouse design; the colours of this chandelier inspired the pink and green color palette.

Kelly Nelson Designs

This brightly colored abstract painting at the dining area is by Ivan Stojakovic. Postrenovation, it is about the only remaining dividing wall in the downstairs inside.

Kelly Nelson Designs

Average of a townhouse, the kitchen is narrow and long. Nelson opened it up into the living area and added a very long kitchen island. “I can not remember when we sat down in the table; we love to assemble at the staircase,” she states.

Cabinets: Downsview; backsplash tile: handmade glass, Mixed-Up Mosaics; pendant lights: Le Klint

Kelly Nelson Designs

A painting that the couple picked up on a trip to Portofino, Italy, inspired the blue and orange living area palette. The backs of these bookshelves are painted the exact same color of orange as the dining area shelves. The same limestone used on the kitchen counters surrounds the fireplace. An Oriental rug pays homage to classic townhouse style.

Kelly Nelson Designs

New French doors and large windows let in the light. “Opening up the living area to the back courtyard makes the home feel so much larger,” Nelson says.

Coffee table: Eglomise, Beeline Home; Lights: Splatter, Beeline Home; vases: Arteriors

Kelly Nelson Designs

Tip: “When blending throw pillows, I usually go with a sound, a large-scale pattern and a small pattern,” Nelson says. “To make them more contemporary, I stay far from piping them and I like to make them big; if you’re going to the cost of getting them made, think larger than 14 inches!”

Although residing in a building zone (think: washing dishes in the tub) was a challenge, it had been well worth it. The open design and modern touches fit your family’s lifestyle to a T.

Painting: Rebecca Rutstein; flowery cushion fabric: Schumacher; orange cushion fabric: Osborne & Little

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