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Tip Jar: Go with the Flow

Below is a before photo of a beautiful home we have listed at 1015 N 4th Street in Northern Liberties (only $359,900, BTW!). When we first visited this home, the layout had tons of potential but the way the furniture was positioned it really cluttered the space and did not show off the Open Flowing Layout people have come to love these days. As you see in the before photo below, the couch blocks off the dining area. Although this method of dividing rooms can translate very effectively in a huge oversized room, for the narrower rowhome so prevalent in Philadelphia, this method can backfire and give the illusion of a smaller space.















The current popular trend in home design in Philadelphia is for the main living spaces (kitchen living and dining areas) to flow together seamlessly. So we made some suggestions and the transformation was immediate. Below is the after photo. Notice how the room looks bigger, less cluttered and the Open Flowing Layout has been achieved by simply moving the couch that served as a room divider, out of the living room altogether.


To create a separation between rooms that will not effect the Open Flowing Layout that people are looking for, try these 3 tips:

1) One large piece of art or a large mirror on the wall can define a space and create a focal point for a room without taking up floor space.

2) A neutral colored floor rug that blends with the flooring can define a space without blocking the walking path or drawing too much attention through color to one area of the room.

3) Creatively placed soffets, chandeliers, and lighting can serve as an absolutely brilliant room divider without being at eye level or on the floor. This is my personal favorite solution.

Do you think you can implement these ideas into your home to improve flow? Have you done other things to create the same results in your space? I'd love to know.


Tip Jar: Clean Out That Closet!

For this week's tip jar, we transformed some tiny closets! From a closet mess (check out the before video!) to a closet success. Our condo closets were a HUGE problem for being so small. The incredibly Cool Condo Lifestyle is really "all that" and we would not trade it in for anything but admittedly most condos will lack closet space. Where other homeowners who live in traditional urban rowhomes can compensate for smaller closets by using their basement, attic, or spare room, Condo and Apartment Dwellers have to make the most of their small space.

Here is our personal solution for our closet challenges. Our 4 closets including our hall coat closet, our laundry room, and our 2 bedroom closets were filled to the gill and a mess. So, we hired a company to organize these spaces. The cost was only $1,300. The estimate was complementary, the installation was only a couple of hours, and the results are amazing.

We now have more space and we can easily find items, some of which we forgot we owned ! Now we can actually close the coat closet, things are not falling on our heads when we open the doors, and they look so fantastic.

Custom fitted closets add practical value and also increase the net value for homes whether they are a Condo like ours or any other style.

Next on my list is new paint throughout. Hmmm...what color to choose?


Tip Jar: Adopt a Scandinavian!

Inspired by Food & Wine's Trendspotting editorial, we're thinking Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and all things Nordic this holiday season. When it comes to home decor or the food you serve at your holiday dinner, adopt a Scandinavian design or recipe this season to mix it up over the holidays.

Gravlax - Serve this delicious and delicate salt and sugar cured salmon dish that is fantastic on toast and served with Champagne. One of my favorite dishes!
Swedish or Norwegian  Meatballs - (recipe from Scandilicious by Signe Johnson, p. 32 in December issue of Food & Wine)
Jarlesburg Cheese - from Norway and serves well with a Gewurztraminer, Riesling, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Anthropologie - Find great modern Scandinavian-looking clothing with a focus on craftsmanship. Though they were born in Wayne PA, and have a great store in Rittenhouse Square, much of their winter lines of clothing have that Nordic appeal perfect for the Holiday.
Dane Decor - Looking for a new chair for the house? Consider the 1970's classic comfort chair, Lido. We love ours!
Ikea - Ah, yes, Ikea, your old Swedish flame that you keep trying to break up with. Sometimes he is irresistible. Especially his fun $2.99 Christmas stockings.
Ligne Roset -  Fans of modern French and Scandinavian design flock to this spot in Manayunk for furniture and accessories with an edge.

[images from Dane Decor and Ikea]


Tip Jar: Stay Excited in the Bedroom and Beyond!

West Elm, you are so square!
IKEA, you're just not meant for long-term.
Crate and Barrel, you are so predictable.
Restoration Hardware, for the 100th time, I am not Ernest Hemingway.

There is a lot to say about cherishing and nurturing your One True Love in relationships, but falling in love with just one furniture store or one furniture style, that is the definition of uninspired.

So, if you're feeling a little bored with your old IKEA kitchen and your so-yesterday West Elm living room, this tip's for you.  The cure to that worn-out relationship is to spread the love.  Mix it up. Try adding something new and unusual to your current collection of furnishings.

Two of my favorite furniture styles are Bauhaus and Danish Modern. You can take the Euro-Utility style of IKEA and mix in a statement piece from Restoration Hardware to create an unexpected and exciting feel in any room. Or, put a curvy decorative cocktail table next to the straight lines found in either a Bauhaus armchair or a simple design from West Elm.

The sky is the limit but for those that need a few pointers, here are a few of the tips that can help you get started:

1) Choose and or identify the one main style furniture you currently have or want in the room. For example: Some people have mostly antique furniture or mostly furniture from IKEA.

2) The easiest thing to do is to tie most of your furniture styles together by repeating one dominant color. For example, you may have different styles of furniture but they are all in the brown and beige family.

3) Always use the element of contrast to create a focal point or to add interest. That might be contrast in stye, a pop of color , or the use of texture.

Which furniture styles do you like to mix?


Get Your Mid-Century Furniture Fix in Fishtown

It's time for another sale at Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse this Sunday.  So if you're looking for some iconic mid-century classics like a Barcelona Chair with ottoman or an Eames rocker, get over to Fishtown!

The sale also promises finds like Danish teak tables, dressers, credenzas, and chairs. Check the website for prices and photos!

Sunday June 5
1217 E Columbia between Moyer and Girard
Philadelphia, PA 19125


Mid-Century Style at Wholesale Prices? Only in Fishtown


Tip Jar: Don’t Let the Walls Cave In on You, Paint Them!


Back to our powerful painting transformation over at 912 E Passyunk Avenue in Bella Vista.

We swapped out the red, which made the hallway appear narrow, for a widening gray. Ahh, much more spacious already!

Perhaps the most neglected part of a home is the hallway. Scuffs, poor lighting, bad paint colors all can make an already small hall space seem even smaller and claustrophobic.

  • Remember, dramatic color is great for your wardrobe but not always for your walls.
  • Avoid dark colors or colors with too much pigment. Avoid hanging too much artwork or oversized pieces in a small hall.
  • Add accent mirrors, light paint colors, and bright lighting to open up a hallway.



You Know it is Time to Paint when…


You Know it is Time to Paint when…

1) Your guests say, "Wow, these colors are definitely, how should I say it? Umm... Creative! Yeah . That's the word."

2) Your mother picks the ugliest painting at the Flea Market and says, "This would look great with your lime green ceiling."

3) The prospective buyer's Realtor leaves showing feedback like this, "The black and orange walls were too bold for my client's taste."

A fresh coat of paint or a new color can change everything about a room. We headed over to a home for sale in Bella Vista to see how we could transform this property with a little bit of color. We had received some feedback particularly about the colors of the walls, so we called on the experts at Busybee Design to do a color consult with us. They came to the rescue and we have no doubt that this property is going to look dramatically different after its color makeover!

The after photos will be posted next week. Stay tuned to see the power of a fresh paint job!


Tip Jar: Precious Metals

I am an Alchemist when it comes to home finishings and home decor. I love to mix metals with gold tones and silver tones. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a designer No-No. In fact, when properly combined, mixing metal finishes can create a unique and eclectic style completely your own.

For example, try using brushed or antique gold-toned frames with brushed nickle and silver frames on a wall.

Use throw pillows with a mix of metal ornaments.

Try clustering gold and silver tabletop vases to create a metallic bouquet of sculptural elements. Gold tends to soften a room that feels too stark or cold.

Silver and steel elements in a room can immediately modernize an otherwise old-fashioned looking space.

If your furniture has accents of brass upholstery nails or steel legs, do not feel obligated to be too matchy-matchy. Experiment!

As a self-proclaimed Alchemistress and licensed Realtor, I have been in thousands of homes. And I will warn the novice Alchemist to avoid one major faux pas which will surely create a bad chemical reaction. Never mix standard brass hardware that you find on doors and cabinetry pulls with silver or stainless faucets such as kitchen and bath fixtures. That type of experiment in metals will surely explode in the face of your good intentions when it comes to finishing touches to your home. I find that this is a common mistake made by many well-intentioned developers and it translates terribly to potential buyers.

So go ahead and mix it up! Just keep your hands off of those fixtures.

[image via west elm]


Spring Designer’s Tip by Busybee Design

Spring is all about re-connecting with your senses, so stimulate them with whimsy! For the new season, we automatically lean towards bold, energizing colors like turquoise, green, and bright pink. Wake up your room with these vibrant shades in the form of an eye-catching pillow, a striking vase, or a chair in a dazzling pattern or hue. Even the simple switch to a new light fixture can bring in color and also add playful architectural elements.

Another way to brighten up for spring? A new work of art can make you view any room in a new light. Go for something fun like this Papier-Mache Deer with Floral Antlers. Or try a custom piece from artist Parvez Taj. He can create the print of your dreams and transfer it to bamboo, aluminum, or canvas.

Wanna talk more about color? Talk to us! For color consults or to purchase these items, please visit Busybee Homestore & Design Center at 734 South Street.


Winter Designer’s Tip: Ruffle Those Feathers!

[images via stray dog designs]


6 Free Home Design Tips from a HGTV Design Star

Vern Yip. His parents see him as the son that never became a Doctor but did a quantum leap from pre-med student to Design Extraordinaire. You may know Vern from his early days on that great TV series called Trading Spaces (when neighbors trade homes and fix up a room for under $1,000).

Vern’s most current endeavors include being the Host of Deserving Design and the Judge for HGTV's Design Star. He is just fabulous and I was fortunate enough to partake in his discussion about how Design Can Sell Your Home. I am going to share with you 10 of Vern’s secrets that have not only helped people sell the homes but have landed him a celebrity status as a designer!

Vern Yip HGTV

Vern Yip’s 6 Design Tips that Will Transform Your Home


Move furniture in, out, or from one room to the next to create the best use of space. Optimizing is FREE.

6 Design Tips That Will Sell Your Home
The desk above has tons of storage and can be for mail, keys, spare change, and all kinds of things. It doubles as a server in the dining room and hosts a lovely entrance piece to hold a lamp and fresh flowers. These simple and beautiful accent pieces save your space from being overfurnished and cluttered.


One color scheme where everything blends makes things look and feel BIGGER. Beiges, greys, whites, and neutrals are best but if you want to use color use ONCE.
Design tips for your home Fishtown


Every room needs something real in it such as plants, fresh flowers, fruit, a vase with polished pebbles or a dish of candy that creates a subtle sign of life. NO FAKE STUFF !

Design Tips Northern Liberties


Edit, delete, remove, de-clutter, reduce, simplify. Create open space on the wall (Ex. One large painting instead of 3 smaller ones. Removing knick knacks from surfaces.)

Design Tips Phiadelphia


Every room has a focal point so flaunt it.  Center the room around a fireplace, a large painting, or a VIEW (huge in the city).

Condo with a View, Philadelphia


Secondary spaces need accessories. Place a fresh flower and new towels in the bath, add a light, and do not forget to organize the closets to finish your home design task.

Beautifu Bathrooms Philadelphia


Phone: 215.253.6818