sneak peek: nicholas santore & valerie ferus

When painter Nicholas Santore and clothing and jewelry designer Valerie Ferus moved into this Philadelphia row house ten years ago, they knew the home needed to be updated, but they wanted to respect its integrity and past. They used a light hand when making changes but allowed their imaginations to run wild when choosing furniture. Eight years ago, they became fans of mid-century French designers such as Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille and Charlotte Perriand and have been hunting for pieces ever since. They seem to be pretty competent hunters — they certainly have one of the best collections of Prouvé that I’ve seen. The wall-mounted swing lamp has been on my wish list for quite a while.  Sigh. Thanks, Nicholas & Valerie! — Amy A.

Image above: The dining room is in the center of the house. As one of the darker rooms in the house, it needed to have a bright, open feel, so the walls were painted a brilliant, cool white (Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White). A large painting of Nicky’s is hung, which gives a window-type illusion that expands the space, throws light due to its reflective silver elements, and at the same time is consistent with the sparse look of the furniture. The table and chairs are vintage Jean Prouvé; the ceiling fixture is by Gino Sarfatti; and decorative, colorful flea market finds were added for some pop and to play off of the furniture colors.

Image above: For the bedroom, naturally, we wanted a tranquil and subdued space. The bed is vintage Jean Prouvé, and two Eames side tables were purchased at a garage sale. The ’50s Serge Mouille lighting fixtures add a sculptural element, and Nicky’s watercolor and silver-leaf painting provides a calm palette for the space. The large pillow’s case is actually a 1930s U.S. Navy sailor’s seabag, and the vintage linen throw was purchased at a flea market.

The rest of Nicholas and Valerie’s sneak peek continues after the jump…

Image above: This wall in the living room was a challenge because it had a painted cinder block faux fireplace flanked by recesses. We tore out the fireplace, replaced the flooring to match the rest of the room and built bookshelves in the recesses. Hanging on the chimney wall is Nicky’s urban landscape painting. The ’50s Prouvé bench provides a reading area as well as additional seating.

Image above: The living room is a combination of pop elements mixed with utilitarian/industrial furniture. The Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls” poster is an original color separation proof used in the printing process. The ’60s fashion illustration was a Redbook magazine cover by Nicky’s father, Charles Santore. The sofa converts into a bed for guests and is a 1950s design by Borsani. The child’s desk and chair set, by Jean Prouvé c. 1940s, doubles as a coffee table. The plywood and metal chair (1930s) and the wall-mounted swing light (1940s) are also Prouvé‘s. The vintage 1960s Lucite cube chest provides storage for vintage blankets and another surface when needed. The old wooden farm stool was picked up while driving through upstate NY and is used as an ottoman. The rug is early 20th-century Pennsylvania homespun.

Image above: Another dining room view. The salvaged beveled-glass door leads into the powder room in an attempt to bring more natural light into the space. The vintage Eames ESU was an estate sale purchase and provides storage as well as a place to display objects, such as the colorful Krenit bowls, glass (by John Bingham) and metal modernist sculptures. The top photo, acquired in a trade with the artist, is by Laurel Nakedate, and the bottom photo is by Matthew Monteith.

Image above: This is another wall in the dining room, and it is always evolving and changing. The hooks on the early 20th-century paint sign were originally intended to hang old fishing lures. We used the hooks for a ’20s sports mask and a wooden tramp art piece. To the left is an original early Hawaiian surf silver print photo dated 1913, and to the right are a collection of original Philadelphia mugshots from the late ’40s/early ’50s.

Image above: Beyond the yellow jug, at the base of the stairwell, hangs a grouping of original Jean Prouvé ephemera — a blueprint, documents, brochures and photos.

Image above: Designing and building the kitchen ourselves was a labor of love. The subway tile was original, and beautiful, so we was decided that it would be the leading design element. We salvaged the period tin ceiling, as well as the fan and lights. The floor is the original yellow pine subfloor. Rather than having traditional cabinets and countertops, we decided to have single movable storage cabinets with butcher-block tops, all of which were salvaged. None of the elements, with the exception of the wall cupboard, are “built in,” which is a little design nod to the old butcher shops and bakeries typical to the neighborhood.

Image above: The kitchen cupboard was salvaged and worked in to look like it had always been there. Everything else in this photo was also salvaged, with the exception of the range. The bouillon sign was added to bring some color to the otherwise subdued palette.

Image above: Being able to have a lush garden is a real luxury when living in a city like Philly. We definitely view this green space as another room, or an extension of the house. Because it is off of the kitchen, it also serves as a dining space.

  1. Sing says:

    The art and displays are really great here.

  2. angie grover says:

    its like a beautifully curated museum of all things wonderful! the tin ceiling is one of my favorite parts. and if i had to do a kitchen from scratch it would be right along the same modular/functional/industrial vibe! thank you so much for sharing your home with us! cheers! angie

  3. teresita says:

    Beautiful home, filled with color and life!! What a good sneak peek selection today!!!

  4. kate gatski says:

    absolutely gorgeous! love that refreshing blue.

  5. I love how all the colors POP against the subdued, background palette.

  6. The color is so refreshing and all that light. It just feels restful yet cheerful and they kind of struck a unique balance to me.

  7. Magan says:

    Amazing! I love the light and colors!

  8. design-phan says:

    Love it, esp. all the cards from the couple’s foraging. Hunting is half the fun. (And Philly’s Freeman’s auction house is such a wonderful resource. I bought my first painting there.)

  9. mrs boo radley says:

    I am IN LOVE!!

  10. Chedva says:

    Valerie’s paintings are breath taking, and of course I envy them for their Serge Mouille… Stunning.

  11. marv says:

    Great play with perspective and motion. Very witty!

  12. Love the idea of colored legs on the chairs, really adds color to the room.

  13. StarR says:

    Love the Kitchen…

  14. Zsa Zsa says:

    Lovely colors! The chairs are my favorite! I’d love to live here. :)

  15. Sandi says:

    I love it! This is my dream house.

  16. Jena says:

    V. beautiful, floors gorgeous, love that kitchen :)

  17. Daphne Collins says:

    Ditto on the kitchen. Loving it!!!

  18. MB@YarnUiPhoneApp says:

    The hooks on the 20th century are brilliant and would be easy to recreate with another hanging sign. I also love the tin ceiling which would also be easy to recreate. I miss the ultra-high ceilings of my old rental. And I adore the salvaged shelf in the kitchen, something I’d do in a heartbeat with a fistful of cash. I just need some muscle to pull it off!

  19. katiedid says:

    where did the fan come from? We’ve been looking for a good salvaged fan and have had no luck!

  20. Great use of color. The kitchen is very cool and it’s the first time I have seen anything related to the Buillon cube without having terrible flashbacks to my childhood. I thought that shiny package was candy and had a terrible surprise ;-) Nicholas and Valerie have a lovely home.

  21. Jackie says:

    So beautiful! One of my favorite kitchens in the Sneak Peeks–respectful of the house’s past, yet fresh and modern. The whole house is a perfect study of how to incorporate modern design into a historic space seamlessly.

  22. India says:

    absolutely gorgeous!

  23. Kay Douglas says:

    Beautiful and witty just like the owners! Very smartly curated. An inspiration!

  24. Jovana says:

    Your kitchen is just amazing!!! You have both done such a fabulous job decorating your home!! Thanks for sharing :)

  25. Charis says:

    What a fun and happy house!

  26. Karen Pettinelli says:

    Terrific. Would love to see the space in the flesh!

  27. My favourite is the kitchen…

  28. Christina says:

    This house’s art and furniture is like a big geometry lesson. It’s very clear what the owner’s taste is and I dig it.

  29. huge vitra, prouve, eames fan myself! we share the same furniture although mine are not vintage. i have the prouve chairs too (black and dark wood). i was confused because virta did not have those colors, so the vintage is the explanation! I also have the eames ESU

  30. Anna @ D16 says:

    Phenomenal—I’m almost speechless! This really is the most fantastic collection of “everyday Prouvé” I’ve seen, that it’s in the US makes it doubly exciting. Incredible use of color and contrast of shapes and textures, and the perfect balance of casualness, functionality, and elegance. I’m totally blown away!

  31. I LOVE partially painted, partially wooden chairs! They look really fantastic with the white walls – everything looks fantastic with the white walls. And the photography throughout is stunning!

  32. Kimberly Branco says:

    I love the simple clean lines, subtle pops of color and vintage decor. Stunning!

  33. Gillian says:

    I love the kitchen and the patio!

  34. Heather says:

    The kitchen is my fave. Love the bouillon tin thingame. Nice one people!

  35. Eileen 2 says:

    I like it that there aren’t lot of curtains and shades. The windows and doors let in light.

  36. Jennifer says:

    Fantastic space; the kitchen is divine and the lucite cube holding what looks like an American flag blanket (?) is awesome. Plus, I’m really digging the owner’s artwork!

  37. Love the jean prouve chairs in the first pic. A reinterpreted by G-Star RAW for Vitra is coming out soon, but I like the color in these……

  38. claudine says:

    nothing like clean white walls to make good ephemera “pop”… gorgeous home with an excellent vibe

  39. such a well put together home! i love the pops of color! perfect balance

  40. Wow – very chic and reminds me of a leafy London/NYC Home. The freestanding Kitchen is such a dream!

  41. Mirjam says:

    Oooh, how I love this place! The simple lines and the logic of the overall colorscheme, originating from the furniture, all feel so natural. Together with the white and light it looks like home to me. That kitchen may be the greatest kitchen I’ve ever seen! If only we would have more space here in Holland, like in houses in the US…


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