sneak peek: tara mangini & percy bright

I’ve been awaiting this peek for quite a while. Ever since we saw a little of the spectacular transformations that Tara Mangini & Percy Bright accomplished on this 1915 Philadelphia row house (See Before & After: Percy’s Home Transformation Part 1 and Part 2), I was anxious to see the entire home. The couple has exquisite taste. Together they run Jersey Ice Cream Company, primarily selling vintage housewares and furniture. At Brimfield, Grace, Kate and I stumbled upon the couple’s booth, and Grace took home a beautiful vintage bench purchased from the pair. It can be difficult to make vintage finds feel cohesive, but Tara and Percy have created a home that feels serene and lived in. Thanks, Tara & Percy! And a big thank you to Tara for the lovely photos! — Amy Azzarito

Image above: All original doors and trim. Handmade reclaimed bleacher bench. Wood from an old gymnasium in North Philadelphia. Legs from Home Depot. Great old US map from Philly Flea Market. Gloves and boots and ooh, and I think those are some bills piling up, too.

Image above: We found a picture of an old Parisian paneled room that we fell in love with and decided to try to create one of our own. Percy is the mastermind and muscle behind this incredible feat. He pulled about 400 linear feet of dirty, nail-filled huge base cap molding from an abandoned school in North Philly. (PS — You don’t realize how much wood that is until it’s sitting in your kitchen for two weeks.) He then spent weeks paneling the living room. The math, sweat and patience that went into this room make it even more beautiful. We pulled out a hideous fake fireplace and mantel and trimmed it with some of the reclaimed wood. Now we have a great focal point that showcases some of the beautiful wood that made this project possible and about 200 vintage books, as well! This room currently serves as our by-appointment-only shop, though we hope to someday get a grand dining room table in here and host some killer dinner parties.

See more of Tara & Percy’s Philadelphia home after the jump!

Image above: Chalkboard paint from Home Depot. Brilliant because we can switch up the pattern on a whim. Perfect cure for indecision and boredom! After resisting for quite some time, we finally installed a mirror over the sink. The frame is made from some of the leftover trim from the front room. And we must admit, it’s nice to be able to watch yourself brush your teeth.

Image above: Rusty bed frame from a church fair that we got for $15. Cleaned up quite nicely! The wall behind is another thing we love. Made from all the lath that was pulled out during renovations. It’s the start of our lath obsession that you’ll see scattered through the house.

Image above: Kitchen into the front room! Theater seats from Craigslist. Perfect example of us finding something that we loved and then finding a way to fit it into the house. Hand-stenciled wall, which was another test of patience.

Image above: Homemade pendant light. Great, deep farmhouse-style sink.

Image above: Water damage led to the revealing of lots of exposed brick throughout the house. Which we love! We essentially tore out the original kitchen and started from scratch. So everything from the stove to the fridge is custom built into the design. The butcher block countertops are probably one of our favorite design decisions in there.

Image above: Ah. The bedroom. We get such beautiful light in here, which we really wanted to highlight. Percy plastered the walls, which creates this great weathered-looking, uneven surface that the light really dances around on. We do a lot of our shooting for Etsy in here because the light is so great. Almost everything is vintage or reclaimed. Door headboard. Old map. Vintage linens. School locker. The portrait of that girl between the windows is maybe one of my (Tara’s) most favorite vintage finds in the house.

Image above: More plasterwork and vintage finds. Dresser is a hand-me-down from Percy’s grandmother that seems like it was made just for us. Typewriter for love letter writing. Vintage books found up in CT.

Image above: Boots!

Image above: Percy’s favorite vintage find! Private door custom built into the room. Over-toilet storage made from an old blueberry crate.

Image above: It’s dangerous having a bed so close to where you’re trying to do work, but it’s a nice escape. Drying lines above the bed for when we do printing projects. Featured on them in the picture are my Something Small To Say cards. Available on Etsy!

Image above: One of the spaces in the house where we really had to consider function as well as aesthetic. Wrap-around desks from salvaged butcher block. Shelving from black pipe and reclaimed planks. Tons of light. Great space to create. Love seeing how our individual work spaces look evolved. My side (Tara’s) is filled with pastel colors and piles of ribbons and an old typewriter. Percy’s side is filled with brick and reclaimed wood and bold colors. Feels just right.

Image above: Starting to dabble in letterpress! This huge wall felt like it needed something on it, but we really didn’t want to just hang a row of pictures or posters. We came up with the idea to blow up one of my Something Small To Say cards and loved it. We projected the type up on the wall and painted away! The paint color up here was mixed by us! Paint chips can be so deceiving! After a few instances of spending hours poring over them and picking the right color only to paint it and see that it was TOTALLY different, we started buying huge gallons of white paint and mixing it with bold versions of the color we wanted to get it just right.

Image above: The backyard used to be a mess of a bamboo forest. Now it’s a great place to sip afternoon wine or play Scrabble surrounded by friends and twinkle lights.

Image above: And our beautiful rooftop view of Philadelphia!

  1. kimmi siren says:

    Though I appreciate all the work they’ve done (being in exactly the same business as they are), I’m starting to believe this vintage drab look is coming to an end. Ultimately it’s very clever and “green” but also quite depressing and grey.

    Great job though!!!
    Totally get the wood piled high in the kitchen and project after project.
    All our friends and clients think we live with great stuff ( that they want or think they can’t live without ) in a house that must resemble a museum or something?? Our home- though lovely – is rarely anything else than much needed extra storage! And when the merch finds its’ way to the shop it’s actually very minimal.

  2. Daphne Collins says:

    Seeing such original design space & approach is why I love DS. Tx!

  3. such a lovely home and couple

  4. I love love love this sneak peek. The sneak peeks have been better and better lately and this is another one of my new favorites. Someone else commented that the space is “authentically decorated” and I wholeheartedly agree. This home feels very loved.

  5. Timmy says:

    This is probably my favorite Sneak Peak yet. And they’re from Philly. Just brilliant!

  6. Sofie says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! My favorite to date too!

  7. percy & tara says:

    @lauren it’s a german map from 1915. the maker is P. A. Norstedt & Söners förlag.

    @amanda that’s the original color!

    @brenda we’d love to help you out, but aren’t sure which photo you mean.

    @kimmi sorry you feel that way. we aren’t going for a vintage drab look, or trying to be clever and “green.” we just fill the house with things we love. and that, to us, is quite the opposite of depressing and grey.

  8. Goodness me. I absolutely love that garden, what fun it must be to play in!

  9. ebony says:

    I also love what you’ve done with your garden! But tell me, how did you get rid of the “mess of bamboo forrest”? I have some bamboo in my yard, and it wants to take over, and ruin, everything! I’ve heard horror stories about how difficult it can be to get rid of, any tips?

  10. paula mills says:

    Beautiful – you can see that this truly is a home filled with pieces that Percy and Tara love, it comes out in every beautiful detail of their home.

  11. Jenny says:

    wow, according to air bnb this house is just a few blocks away from mine! i love the natural light, all the lovely little vignettes, and the different gorgeous DIY wall colors/coverings. so much inspiration!

  12. What a beautiful mix of natural finishes, the fireplace, the brick wall… and oh, the old maps. Fabulous!

  13. annie says:

    You have an incredibly beautiful home. I especially love the work space and wonder if you bought the wall shelving or made them? And, about the hand-stenciled room–did you use paint? Thanks!

  14. percy & tara says:

    @ebony the horror stories are all true, unfortunately. my only tip is make sure you get every last bit of it out, or it’ll sprout right back up. it took me a full day of pick-axing the stuff out of the ground (the only good news is that the roots system is very shallow). within a couple days, there were new shoots springing up in a few places. i dug them up, hit them with roundup, and then threw a tarp down over the whole yard. probably overkill, but it did the trick. nasty stuff!

  15. hanako zeidenberg says:

    ill admit, i love the home. however the floors look a smite dusty!

  16. Tiffany says:

    i may just love everything about this home.

  17. percy & tara says:

    @annie thank you! we made the wall shelving out of reclaimed planks and black pipe from home depot. they’re super customizable and easy to make. (pretty good instructions here: ) we did indeed use paint on the hand stenciled wall. we first painted the whole wall white. next we cut out a TON of imperfect circles from freezer paper, and ironed the sheets-sans-circles up on the wall. finally, we rolled over it with light grey and pulled the freezer paper. voila!

  18. Andrea Deal says:

    Oh I love this home! Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Congratulations for the magnificent contribution of ideas to your house, I’m glad there are still people with good taste, I can only say I was surprised all.

  20. Tiffanie says:

    Hello there. We’re restoring an old house and were very inspired by the way you have used the old lath to decorate the bedroom wall. It looks great and we have piles of the stuff sitting in the garage. How did you go about attaching them to the wall? Thanks, Tiff

  21. Melissa says:

    LOVE what you have done with the place, inspires me to simplify and embrace the blending of modern, classic, and unique. Well done!

  22. Katie says:

    I love the muted tones throughout the apartment – it looks effortlessly stylish but clearly is a labour of love!

  23. Katie T. says:

    inspired me today…thank you! i just bought a house in fishtown and i am excited to use some of your ideas to help me decorate

  24. cristin says:

    Love it! You can feel that it feels good to live and work there. Lovely space! Bravo.

  25. How I would love to work in that office – either side of it! :) The pipes and plank shelves work so well with the brick wall – nicely done.

  26. Nico says:

    Serious dream house- Those theater seats are inspired! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Rebecca says:

    An absolutely amazing home!

  28. Tara Mangini says:

    Thank you all for such sweet and inspiring comments. The fact that you all love our house as much as we do means THE WORLD to us. Really and truly. We are filled with even more momentum to create, create, create.

    Design*Sponge, thank you for making this all possible.
    Readers, thank you for taking the time to peek at our home.

    To all things creative and beautiful, cheers!

    X, Tara

  29. Mandy says:

    P. A. Norstedt & Söners förlag has nothing to do with Germany.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      i think you could have taken a second to phrase that in a more constructive way, but yes, it looks like that’s a company based in stockholm, not germany.


  30. Domenica says:

    Nothing drab or depressing about this place……….Enjoyed viewing the photo’s SO MUCH…..For me its all about what your drawn to, what feels organic and true…. To be surrounded by things that you feel connected to…I find it brings a feeling of deep joy…. Applause to you both, for such a wonderfully stylish living abode…

  31. melanie says:

    so amazing! oh my god. i want to live there!

  32. Connie Hill says:

    I want to put in butcher block countertops. (in my kitchen)Where did you get them & did you stain or put a finish on them? Also where did you get the fabulous sink?

  33. percy & tara says:

    @connie_hill believe it or not, the countertops in the kitchen are from ikea! they’re really cheap, you just pick from a few wood options and then oil them once in a while. the deep kitchen sink is also from ikea!

  34. Abby says:

    Loved the hand stenciled wall covering and blackboard paint in the bathroom…really great ideas!

  35. Susan says:

    Where is the bathroom sink from? Really love it.

    1. Marlene says:

      I want to know too. I have the exact cracked pink one, faucets are gone, and I want this exact replacement. am renovating. Where can I get a modern one.

  36. Rebecca says:

    Ditto @ Susan- bathroom sink is perfection. What is the name…info please? What a beautiful home!

  37. Carey says:

    I’m trying to reconstruct the bathroom door but having trouble finding a source for that type of glass. Can you help?


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