MODERN PHILADELPHIAN: Interview with SHOPHOUSE DESIGN

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Through a series of interviews with Philadelphia’s burgeoning community –  real estate entrepreneurs, architects, designers, and developers – we’ll explore their unique process and perspective that is shaping Philly’s modern spaces. We’ll discuss how they are remixing the city’s historic past with creativity, design, entrepreneurship and lifestyle. As we take a deeper look into their 24-hour slice of home and how they live, work, play and invest in the city, we’ll follow the pulse of trends and developments that are influencing and inspiring the city’s new urbanism.

To break the ice, we launch the series with founders of boutique design firm SHOPHOUSE.  Known for their fresh aesthetic and unexpected approach, personal and property stylists, Kiley Baun & Betsy Helm reinterprets spaces with unbridled passion.

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1.  What inspired your team to set up SHOPHOUSE DESIGN and a home in Philly? 

SHOPHOUSE has been an idea in our heads since we were in college. We moved to Philly around the same time and fell in love with the energy, history and the eclectic neighborhoods. After years of working separately in our fields, we were finally ready to work together as a team. We really felt our roots spreading here. It was the perfect time and place to start SHOPHOUSE.

2.  Which neighborhoods do you live in and why did you decide to buy a home there? 

Kiley Baun: South Philadelphia. I loved the sense of community I felt when I was looking at buying. I love that there are so many different people, so many unique places and its proximity to Center City.

Betsy Helm: Rittenhouse. In love with the feel of this neighborhood, proximity to the trail, highways and most of all, the charm. Nothing beats a morning coffee walk or an evening stroll admiring all of the architecture.

3.  What are your go-to hotspots? 

K: Nam Phuong for Pho, Stateside for a stiff drink, Mr. Martino’s for simple Italian and the best host in the city.

B: Audrey Claire and Barclay Prime have always been celebratory spots for me. With Dmitris gone, Gusto has been a great spot to bring a bottle of wine and share a pizza. We love to get our friends together for dinner picnics in Rittenhouse in the summer as well.

4.  What’s unique to Philadelphia design and architecture? How is it changing?

B: What attracted me to Philadelphia was how rich it’s history is. Growing up in New England, I felt a strong pull to the architecture as well as its proximity to the coast. For us as designers, we appreciate the juxtaposition of the modern architecture that has been going up (Cira, Comcast) with historic homes in Old City and the Mansions in Rittenhouse.  This city serves as inspiration for us for how it all plays together. With all of the new tech companies moving to Philadelphia, we see a great future for our city as this brings a need for more housing, more dining, more gentrification in surrounding neighborhoods.

5.  How is SHOPHOUSE’s approach/process different from others? 

We have two completely different styles. We are very collaborative in our approach and love involving our clients in the process. We like to push our clients boundaries a bit while helping them make decisions that they will be happy with for years to come. We strive to make it a pressure free and fun process for our clients. Doesn’t everyone make better decisions when they aren’t under pressure?

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6.  What does a day usually entail for your team? What’s your 24-hour slice of life in Philly? 

A day is truly never the same for us. We spend a lot of days in and out of client meetings, visiting showrooms, stopping by job sites, planning events, working with artists. Although certainly rewarding, our job is definitely not always glamorous. Some days we are picking out toilets in our high heels at Home Depot, some days are spent in front of the computer drafting out kitchens and space planning, pulling our hair out until it just ‘clicks’. When the day is over, we can be found running the trails with our dogs, going to yoga and getting together with friends at a BYO. We are also pretty serious about our Bachelor Fantasy League (and yes, we do mean ABC’s the Bachelor).

7.  What inspires you as designers and stylists?

B: The mixing of styles. I am so inspired of the blending of details to create the perfect mix of modern and traditional. I think these layers speak to who we are as people, constantly evolving, and ever changing. We like to re-imagine spaces to best suit the needs and lifestyles of our client, we never try to do too much of one style.

K: Fashion. Fashion trends and interior trends go hand in hand. I love color and texture in both areas. When all the layers come together, it creates an amazing piece.

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8.  A home is a reflection of one’s personality and lifestyle. What style advice can you give to homebuyers on the search for their dream home? 

We always say focus on the envelope – everything you can’t shake out of the home.  The envelope is the most important layer in design. You can have the most beautiful couch in the world, but if you have a dated kitchen or odd layout, it won’t make one bit of a difference. Look at the potential, taking a wall down can change your life- literally. Look for high ceilings, interesting architectural details. There are so many easy changes that you can make to obtain what you want. Look at the granny houses, look at the houses with carpet on the walls, that’s where you can score. Many times clients hire us to house hunt with them, so that we can point out all of the potential that they would overlook.

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9. Can you offer some staging tips for sellers? 

Paint it a light neutral. Take all your personal items out of the space. Proper conversational layout in a space can change the tone of the room. Buyers want to picture all the fun things they will do in their new home. Don’t we all have the grandest of intentions while we are dreaming of the future? Set up a styled bar cart, put some fresh fruit and flowers in a vase. Turn on the lights when you know you are having a showing.

10. What exciting projects are on the horizon for you (that’s relevant to our audience)? 

We are working on so many great projects. We do both commercial and residential projects, and we’re starting a custom home building company. Lately, we have been working on a few new offices for tech companies, so we really get to have a lot of fun bringing our crazy ideas to life. Many of these commercial clients have become residential clients, and vice versa.

Our Favorite Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Rittenhouse Square

In this series of blog posts, we’ll be exploring some of our favorite neighborhoods in Philadelphia- Including places to eat, what to see rittenhouse-square-philadelphia-spring-587 (1)and what to do. As well as spending some time exploring the real estate stats of that neighborhood. This time around we’ll be exploring Rittenhouse Square. One of Philadelphia’s oldest and most popular neighborhoods.

Rittenhouse Square begins and ends with Rittenhouse Square park. The park itself was part of William Penn’s original plans when Philly was first founded. The condos and homes surrounding the park itself are some of the popular (and most expensive) in the city. The prices may be relatively high, but those amazing views make it all worth it.

 

Where to Eat: Besides easy access to the park, public transportation and the rest of Center City, Rittenhouse Square is home to a diverse mix of restaurants and eateries. Whether you want something simple like coffee and pastries at La’colombe (19th and Walnut), burgers at 500 degrees (15th and Sansom) or steak and cocktails at Butcher and Singer (15th and Walnut), Rittenhouse Square’s food scene has got something for everyone!

What to See: Besides the aforementioned natural beauty of Rittenhouse Square park, Rittenhouse is home to some great live music venues- Inlcuding the Kimmel Center or for some more indie-centric live music, the First Unitarian Church. And if you’re looking for something more informative (and just a bit creepy) you need to see the Mutter Museum.

Real Estate: Considering the many amenities, Rittenhouse Square tends to be more expensive than most Philly neighborhoods, but there’s still plenty of chances to find some great homes. In fact right now, there are 130 active listings in the Rittenhouse Square zip code. Click here to get real estate market info about Rittenhouse Square.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Rittenhouse Square or Philadelphia real estate in general, email me mickey@themickeygroup.com or call today: 267.238.5713.

July is National Picnic Month! Celebrate in one Philadelphia’s Picnic Friendly Parks

July is National Picnic Month and Uwishunu has a brand new guide for Picnicking in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia has many gardens and shade-filled packs great for picnics as well as plenty of stores that have picnic-ready foods, like Di Bruno Bros and Green Aisle Grocery.

As well as parks, Philadelphia has many picnic friendly events going on over the summer, and here are a few.

Movie Nights on the Schuylkill Banks: Every other Thursday at 8:30p now until Aug. 23.  Snacks are provided courtesy of Dranoff Properties’ Locust on the Park and Left Bank if you get there early- but you bring your own blanket and food if you want.

Friday Night Lights- Fireworks At Penn’s Landing: Fridays, July 27- Aug 31. How Romantic! Eating alfresco, enjoying fireworks at Penn’s Landing.

Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing: Thursday, July 5- Aug 30.  RiverStage at Penn’s Landing turns into an outdoor movie theater at dusk.  Even better, it’s free!

International House: Wednesday, Aug 8 at 8p and Wednesday, Aug 22 at 8p.  International House is hosting two free outdoor movie screenings in their courtyard, Silent Running and Dark Star.

The Awesome Fest Film Series at Liberty Lands Park: Every other Thursday.  Picnics are encouraged for the outdoor film series at Liberty Lands Park.

If you just want to picnic without a movie or fireworks going on, you can pick any of these great picnic locations:

Rittenhouse Square: If you choose to picnic here, you can grab food at these places- Metropolitan Bakery; Le Bus Bakery; Di Bruno Bros; Shake Shack; Pumpkin Market

Sister Cities Park: Center City’s newest park and has the Milk & Honey Café which you can grab popcorn or freshly made sandwiches for your picnic.

Washington Square: One of Philadelphia’s five original public squares. If you choose to picnic here, grab your meal from Garces Trading Company or Reading Terminal Market.

Franklin Square: Play some Philly Mini Golf and then get some burgers and fries for your picnic from Square Burger

Love Park:  It may not have grass, but Love Park has lots of benches around the fountain and lots of great Food Trucks to grab food from, some of the best in Philly.

These are only a few of the great picnic locations in Philadelphia.  For the complete list of picnic locations and where to grab your grub for them visit Uwishunu’s article.

If you fall in love with one of these parks, and want to live near by, look to The Mickey Group to help you get there!

What’s Been Happening in Rittenhouse Real Estate

Consistently one of the most popular (and expensive) real estate markets in Philly, Rittenhouse Square is where the wealthy patrons of our city come to play. Home to upscale shops like Apple, restaurants such as Le Bec Fin and high-rise buildings and luxury hotels, home prices of Rittenhouse reflect the easy access to these ritzy amenities.

While most recent changes have been commercial (the abundance of hotels, attractions and restaurants makes it a destination neighborhood for tourists), Rittenhouse has also added to its residential real estate inventory. One of the most anticipated additions is a 34 story, $60 million skyscraper coming to 21st and Chestnut, on the outer edges of the neighborhood.

The new building (pictured right) will feature both apartments for rents and for purchase, as well as  first floor commercial space and room for the Sydney Hillman Medical Center, which it’s replacing. Other residential news includes a proposed nine story with first floor commercial space and 122 residential units at 16th and Sansom. Notice a trend here? Generally speaking, residential developments in Rittenhouse tend to be new high rises, and usually include commercial space. Developers wisely maximize their ROI in the area by going for high rises with commercial space. And considering the neighborhood, townhomes would simply not fit.

Speaking of commercial, the insanely popular NYC burger stand Shake Shack is opening its first ever location at 20th and Sanson. Replacing an old dry cleaner business, Shake Shack hopes to be opened late Spring/early Summer 2012. But in the meantime, the restaurant has decided to shake things up a bit during construction(pun!) by replacing the exterior plywood with a pop up wall garden (pictured top right).  While not a permanent fixture, it’s a refreshing change of pace for businesses undergoing construction, and a thoughtful idea for those of us who walk by that corner on a frequent basis. Perhaps a “wall garden” could be a viable alternative to adding murals to blighted properties?

 

Here’s a snapshot of home prices in Rittenhouse Square:

 

The median listing price of homes for sale in Rittenhouse Square is $524,300, making it one of the highest priced zip codes in Philadelphia. Prices are high in the area, and frankly, if you can afford it, buying in Rittenhouse Square is a smart move. Homes are likely to retain their value, plus the convenience of having some of the best stores and restaurants at your doorstep (not to mention the beautiful Rittenhouse Square park) is worth the higher price point.

Click the link to see homes for sale in Rittenhouse Square.

 

Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Pros and Cons

No matter what Philadelphia neighborhood you call home, there’s always going to be an upside and a downside.  The key to choosing your neighborhood is understanding what your needs are and the evaluating the pros and cons of each Philly neighborhood. For instance, are school districts a deal breaker for you? Do you need easy access to all major highways? Before looking at any homes for sale in Philadelphia, be sure to understand exactly what you want.

Now, Philadelphia being a City of neighborhoods, one blog post would not be enough to review them all, but here’s a sampling of 4 distinct Philadelphia neighborhoods and their pros and cons. Got questions about neighborhoods not mentioned here? Email me: mickey@themickeygroup.com.

Old City

Pros: Easy access to public transportation, major highways. Abundance of bars, restaurants, shops, clubs and historic attractions. Exciting night life.

Cons: Noisy (especially on weekends).  crowded. very little street parking. touristy. relatively expensive.

Part of the problem with being so close to so many great restaurants and attractions is that you can expect a great deal of  traffic(both car and foot). The weekends and the Summer bring plenty of visitors to Old City, meaning fewer options for parking and very crowded sidewalks.  If noise is a huge issue for you, Old City might not be your neighborhood.

Graduate Hospital

 Pros: Close to Rittenhouse Square, Center City, up and coming neighborhood (lower priced homes expected to rise in coming years)

Cons: Little commercial activity ( few stores, restaurants etc.)

It’s always good to invest in an up and coming neighborhood, but at the moment there isn’t a great deal of restaurants, bars and shops. Those commercial endeavors will come as more and more move to G-Ho, but it would just take a bit of time. Graduate Hospital is the perfect neighborhood if you’re comfortable with investing right now, and reaping the benefits a few years down the road.

Fairmount/ Art Museum Area

Pros: Family friendly, easy access to the Parkway, close to museums, attractions

Cons: Quiet and low key, not very lively.

Depending on your perspective, this Philadelphia neighborhood’s cons could be pros, and vice versa. Although the Fairmount/Art Museum Area has plenty to do, and some of the best restaurants in town, it’s not the best neighborhood if you’re young and looking to party. Part of why the neighborhood is so family friendly is that it tends to be more laid back and reserved. If you’re raising a family or planning to very soon, you’re an empty nester moving back to the city or you simply prefer a quiet evening at an intimate bar, then this is your neighborhood.

Northern Liberties

 Pros: Trendy, all-inclusive, plenty of activity and nightlife, easy access to the market Frankford Line.

Cons: Trendy. Relatively expensive.

Northern Liberties has made the transformation from an industrial, working class neighborhood, into a completely gentrified hotspot. And thanks to the Super Fresh opening up at 2nd Girard, there’s virtually no reason to leave NoLibs at all. But that convenience, and the abundance of great bars and restaurants, makes Northern Liberties the “it” neighborhood in Philly. Although you might not have as many tourists as you’d find in Old City (at least not yet) this very trend Philly neighborhood is pricey when it comes to real estate.

Got questions about Philadelphia neighborhoods not mentioned here? Email me: mickey@themickeygroup.com

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Holiday Open House with Keller Williams, Courtesy of Rittenhouse Row, Wednesday November 30th 6:00pm

Come join Keller Williams Center City and Rittenhouse Row for an open house meet and greet on Wednesday, November 30th at 6:00pm. The event will give neighborhood residents and local business owners a chance to mingle, and meet the newest member of Rittenhouse Row. Plus it’s a great opportunity to see our brand new, state of the art offices at 1619 Walnut Street. Come enjoy free food and drinks(provided by Le Castagne and Sly Fox, respectively) plus live music.  The event is free but you must RSVP to attend.

Email events@rittenhouserow.org to RSVP

About Rittenhouse Row:

Rittenhouse Row is a non-profit that represents more than 200 businesses in Center City West, promoting businesses in the area and promoting the neighborhood. Visit Rittenhouse Row’s Website to Learn More!

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the 10 Most Expensive Real Estate Listings in Philadelphia

Here’s the list of the ten most expensive real estate listings in Philadelphia. These homes are amazingly luxurious(and understandably incredibly expensive). As it comes as no surprise, the majority of the real estate listings are in Rittenhouse Square. But the list has got everything from brand new condominiums to  beautiful historic homes for sale.

Check out the full list here to see the 10 Most Expensive Homes for Sale in Philadelphia

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