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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.