Daydreaming is Good, Right? — Part 2

In the midst of all of the chaos going on in our lives between resolving all of the structural issues at our new (old) Philly row and getting our New York apartment ready to sell, there are the moments spent daydreaming about how fabulous our new home will eventually be. After spending countless hours pinning images on my Pinterest boards, I thought it would be fun to post about my inspirations for our house. Last time I posted about the outdoor spaces both front and back, this time I will tour the first floor and share some current ideas. It should be fun to look back in a year or two to see how much of this translated into what we actually do. As with the last post, for brevity, I am going to keep the inspiration images to a minimum to convey my thoughts and ideas, but trust me…. I have LOTS of ideas. These inspirations are just the beginning and only scratch the surface.

This is the main floor of our house. As best I can determine, the dining room and kitchen were originally just a single room which functioned as a kitchen.


The Main Hall:

The main hall… This was a difficult space to capture because there is no light at one end. There is a lot more character in this space than meets the eye.


OK, so lets get started with the main hall. Our L shaped main hallway is one of my favorite things about our home. The overwhelming majority of homes like ours have had their main halls removed in favor of open concept living rooms. One of the things we loved most about the house was that the original hall was still there. We both like the separation of space. Aside from the obvious formality of it all, I also love that it adds a ton of extra wall space for art. It also keeps the parlor as a parlor and not a great room. It saddens me when people tear out the original entries and even more the original entry vestibules. Opening your front door directly into your living room has never been something I liked. Coming into a home is about discovery of spaces, not having everything in your face the moment the front door opens.

LOVE the idea of a black and white combo for the main hall. [Source: Design Sponge]

One of the things I love most about our main hall is that the plaster ceiling is directly connected (via the underside of the stairs) to the ceiling on the second floor hall, and is then related to the ceiling of the third floor hall. There is an uninterrupted continuous plane of plaster from the first floor to the second floor…. Love it. As for what I want to do? Well, we won’t go as dark as our very dramatic 22′ entry gallery in NYC, but I am not afraid to go dark as my inspiration image above would indicate. Perhaps not quite as black as this, but certainly dark. This is but one of more than 20 images of black and white stair halls on my Pinterest. They all have their merits, but this one just feels like it would translate well to our space. The lower walls of our hall are covered in late 19th century Lincrusta and it is generally in remarkable shape for being 125+ years old. I think it would look amazing done in an off black with a slight sheen to bring out the detail while also hiding the imperfections and small bits of damage time has caused. The stairs are still up for debate as far as what I want to do with them. They need restoration, but given other things on our list, it may be a few years.


The Parlor (Living Room):

This is the parlor which has amazing bones in spite of the unfortunate color. (Image: Real Estate Listing)


The parlor… The classic bones of our parlor are about as textbook as you can get. The room is eleven and a half by twenty one with a fireplace centered on the long wall opposite the double door entry. Then there are the two classic windows overlooking the street (and park) and a single door at the rear. While I will fully admit to struggling with furniture layout, I have absolutely found my inspiration for the room. Surprise! It is dark! I can’t help myself… Every time I stumble across a room that is based on a dark palette, my heart swoons and a sigh emits from my mouth. With our apartment in NYC, we made the bold move of painting our ceiling black with white walls. Everyone who heard about it immediately had a negative reaction… And then when they saw it, they immediately said “Wow, this is not what I expected”. We don’t plan to repeat the black ceiling, but we are going dark (even though were have a northern exposure).

This….. Is so f*ckin beautiful! Words cannot begin to express how much I love this room. [Source: Making Spaces (UK)]

But before I get to the the color, check out the room above by UK designer, Karen Knox (you must check out the other images for this room). SO DAMNED BEAUTIFUL!!!! Those who know me, know that I have had a longstanding love of the British design aesthetic, and a longstanding love for the unconventional? When I stumbled across this room a couple of weeks ago, it rocked my world, I cannot lie. I had goose bumps as I clicked through the images because I loved it so much and because so many elements of the room match our parlor. But…. as stunning as this room is, I do not plan to repeat it. Rather, I want to use it as inspiration for our parlor. So, as amazing as this blue wallpaper with gold lines is, we aren’t planning a blue parlor. But this room inspires my in many other ways. It will serve as inspiration for when we paint our room Narragansett Green (Benjamin Moore). I am also very much in love with the graphic quality of the pattern on the stunning (and expensive) wallpaper. It will be a while before I fully reveal my plan for how we are going to use metallics in our room, but I will say that instead of gold, we want to use copper.


The Half-Bath:

The unfortunate color of our half-bath ensures one’s stay is very short. It doesn’t help that the floor under the toilet is rotten and it’s not safe to sit down, which results in an even shorter visit. (Image: Real Estate Listing)


Tucked in a corner behind our parlor and across from our basement door is a reasonably nice sized half bath. Currently it is an alarming orange color and otherwise is about as pedestrian is one can get (and it is also unusable for sitting down as the floor under the toilet is rotten). As it turns out, our planned future master bath will be directly above the half bath which means we can use the space in the half bath to run the plumbing up the back wall to our new bathroom above, and then to the third floor for a utility sink in my studio. So given that we need to replace the floor and run plumbing up through the space to above, we can pretty much do anything we want in this space. And I have a bunch of pins for different ideas, but the image below kinda sums it all up… Did I mention that I am not afraid of dark rooms?

A small half-bath is the perfect space to go dramatic and there is no doubt this tiny bath is dramatic. [Source: Donna Dotan]

The Dining Room:

When our house was built in 1852, it lacked a formal dining room. Why? Formal dining wasn’t common among those who were not of a higher social class. Dinner parties were more for the idle rich than the working classes. Our house being very much a middle class home of the day, it would have had a large table in the middle of the kitchen where the dining room is now. From the looks of the woodwork (which does not match the rest of the house), I believe our dining room was separated from our kitchen in the 1880’s or 90s. Unfortunately the results are a rather bland room with 12 inch tall baseboards and low 7′ 9″ ceilings. None if it is worth keeping in my opinion.

Our dining room was hit with a huge dose of bland…. It won’t stay that way.


As for our plans…. There will be a lot of details to work out, but I am thinking of doing a tall wainscoting around the perimeter of the room with wall paper above, and to combat the low ceilings, we are considering tearing out the current ceiling entirely and exposing the rough sawn floor joists above it as shown in the picture below. Another dark room, true… But I’m sure there will be a light room somewhere in the house.

OK, this this is not a dining room at all… But it is the interior of a rowhouse in Philly, and the ceiling of our dining room could look just like this if we pull the lath and plaster down. [Source: Coldwell Banker]

The Kitchen:

As noted above, our dining room and kitchen were separated sometime in the 1880s or 90s. The wall between the two rooms is only a partition wall which means we can move things around a bit. Our current kitchen is the result of a lipstick on a pig solution two owners ago. There was little thought to functionality.

This is the result of a big box store vomiting a kitchen in the 1990s. Pretty? Ugh! (Image: Real Estate Listing)


The entire rear portion of the house will be addressed at the same time and when we do it, we plan to gut nearly everything and enlarge the kitchen two feet into the current dining room (which will still leave us with an eleven by thirteen foot dining room). We plan to move the back yard door from it’s non-functional side location to the center of the rear wall creating a ten by eleven foot galley style kitchen with the stove and fridge on one side and the sink and dishwasher on the other.

Once again the British know how to design a kitchen. This one from DeVol is stunning on many different levels. [Source: DeVol (UK)]

As for inspiration, this kitchen above by DeVol is absolutely amazing. Once again the British win when it comes to kitchen design. Our space is lacking in architectural character, but after spending a year building our dream kitchen in New York, I believe I know how to transform an ordinary space into something extraordinary. We will certainly repeat some of the materials and design from our NY kitchen, such as the copper sink, Carrara marble countertops, beadboard on the walls, and cabinets from Barker Cabinets. But as amazing as our NY kitchen floors are, the look may be a bit too fancy for our 1850s rowhouse. Also, although we love our Stiffkey Blue cabinets in our NY kitchen, I am not sure we want to repeat them in Philly. The stunning green in my inspiration kitchen is a possibility for sure.


The Vestibule:

This leaves the only room on the main floor I haven’t mentioned… Our entry vestibule.

Our entry vestibule on settlement day. My thoughts… Ugly-Beautiful, but the late 19th century tile must absolutely be retained.


At 3 1/2 by 5 feet the vestibule is a wonderful space, but also a real challenge. The floor is encaustic tile from the 1870s (we think) and the bottom half of the walls are covered in 1880s art tiles from the Trent Tile Company which are highly collectable. The two tiles clash a bit, and while I really love the floor tile, I am not such a fan of the wall tiles and kinda think they are a bit ugly. In fact, I often refer to them as “ugly-beautiful” because while I can certainly acknowledge that there is beauty in them, I would never choose to have them in my home. But because they are a part of the fabric of the history of our home, I would never remove them. So, if I can’t (won’t) change the tile, I will instead work with it. Since the plan for the main hall is to go with black and white, I found what I think is the perfect solution. Pineapples!

Well, more specifically, this pineapple wallpaper from Barneby Gates with bronze and copper toned pineapples. Pineapples are the symbol of hospitality and welcome, what a perfect thing to incorporate into our entry vestibule, yes? When combined with black woodwork (same as the main hall), the pineapples correlate very nicely with the browns of the tile, and the off black background will tie with the woodwork.

The Pineapple wallpaper from Barneby Gates is the perfect bridge between the ugly-beautiful tile and my black and white plans for the adjacent hall. [Source: Barneby Gates]


So that wraps up the main floor and our so called yard. Stay tuned…. In an upcoming post, I will go upstairs and show my daydreams for our master bedroom and bath, guest room and bath, and my studio. I also guarantee that there will be more white.


















Till next time. . .

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  • Chad says:

    I read that dark colors – or rather, jewel tones – work well in rooms that don’t get good light whereas light colors can look washed out and dingy. So your ideas for the parlor are spot on.

    Plus, dark rooms are super inviting at night


    😍 can’t wait to see it all come together LOVE THE BLACK AND WHITE! The kitchen idea WOW 😍

    • Chad says:

      Also, vestibule tile: I’ve seen more unsettling color combinations than yours before. It’s idiosyncratic but it’ll be fun.

      • Devyn says:

        Chad, I like the term “unsettling color combinations”! And these are certainly colors I would never even consider purposely adding to my home, but you are so correct in that it could be so much worse.

  • Wayne says:

    I love the dark and moody spaces…. That deep blue living room is really beautiful and based on your NY apartment, I can totally see how you would love it. You don’t go into any details about your plans for this Narragansett Green, is this for the walls?

    • Devyn says:

      Wayne, glad you found me! For the moment, the plan is to paint the parlor walls Narragansett Green, but this is still being worked out. I promise, more to come.

  • Stacy G. says:

    Your rowhouse is going to be so beautiful. That kitchen! I love all of your inspiration photos. Although I am all about “bring in the light!” dark elements in a room or a dark wall is growing on me. I have started to get a little braver in Blake Hill House. You inspire me to take design risks.

    • Devyn says:

      Thanks Stacey! Our kitchen is likely to be a few years off (unless I am successful at propagating a money tree in the back yard), and I am sure the end result will be different than what I want now, but this kitchen from DeVol makes me drool every time I see it.
      As for dark… I’ve done dark rooms many times over the years and always loved them, but I have also always held back a bit on really going all in. This time, I have gotten the go-ahead (from Y) to paint the parlor dark, top to bottom including the ceiling. (Something along the lines of this: This will be a departure for me, but I think it will be spectacular. Besides, I tend to spend most of my time in the “public” rooms during the evening when it is already dark out or getting there. That is where lighting comes into play and the options become endless.

  • Alice says:

    I am in love with those first 3 inspiration photos–especially that bathroom!

    Probably too costly, etc. but if you could cheat that doorway from the living room into the hall down just a bit you’d have the door on the same axis with the door into the dining room and you’d get a bit more space in the bathroom.

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