Sneak Peek: Aubrey Levinthal

Aubrey Levinthal and Alex Kursman have lived in this home in Philadelphia’s Center City Trinity for nearly four years. When they initially moved in, Alex had just begun his work as a Federal Defender  and Aubrey was in graduate school for painting.  Since then, the two have added a pit bull to the family mix. Their style for furnishing the home has been through a slow accumulation of thrift store finds, hand-me-downs and even trash picks. Although it’s a fairly small home in the Fitler square area, they keep squeezing things in, including a home studio for Aubrey, who now splits her time between teaching in multiple schools in the area and painting and drawing in the studio.  Her work can be seen at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia or in her etsy shop.  She also runs a blog that brings together her love of art and as well as details the trials and tribulations of being a painter. Thanks, Aubrey and Alex! And a big thank you to Courtney Apple for the lovely photographs! –Amy Azzarito

Image above: Alex bought me this credenza for the first birthday I had living here.  I love mid-century modern furniture and its about the only dresser that was narrow enough to fit up the spiral stairs also, so it was perfect.  The painting in the middle is mine, the piece on the left is Alice Mumford, a fabulous British painter, and the piece on the right was done by a friend I went to grad school with, Amanda Bush.  As you can tell I can’t find enough walls for all the paintings I would like to display.

Image above: This pillow is from our honeymoon to Greece last summer.  The embroidery was done by a local artist.  The painting behind me is by a good friend from my MFA program, Lauren Garvey.

See more of Aubrey’s Philadelphia peek after the jump!

Image above: My dad built this beautiful daybed for us.  It is a great place to sit and look at my paintings or do work on my laptop – it also doubles as a bed when friends stay over.  Everything in our house must have at least three functions in order for it to stick around and earn the space it occupies. Our bulletin board is essentially where I get out my curatorial urges.  I am constantly putting up new show announcements, student art work, old photos and travel souvenirs.  I eventually notice that some aspect of it has inevitably worked its way into my painting.

Image above: The lithograph in the center is one of my favorite things.  It is by Alice Neel and was a gift from Alex when I graduated with my MFA. I love pops of yellow so the pillow was completely necessary.

Image above: I am currently working on a painting purely from memory of my brother and his bike in the summer – wishful thinking perhaps.  But I am always painting with a specific time of year and/or time of day in mind, many times the sense of light is a jumping off point for me.

Image above: This alcove houses some of my thrift store knick knacks as well as art books and catalogs.

Image above: That radio was in my family center city handbag and luggage store, Levinthals, before it closed a few years ago.  The print was done by a student at PAFA, the printmakers there have an awesome holiday sale with hundreds of originals available for very inexpensive.

Image above: Our kitchen is below the living room, but happily this odd little window arrangement lets in a bunch of light.  There are my pops of yellow again with thrift store dishes and a fishs eddy honey jar.  The table is refinished from Ikea and so are the chairs.

Image above: That clock hung at my mom’s childhood home, the scary cookie jar cat is from Alex’s grandparent’s old home and the mid-century ice bucket is from my grandparent’s former home.

Image above: The painting on the left was done by Alex’s grandmother and the painting on the right was done by my mom when she was in art school.  The mushroom prints are from the 1800s which I found online and had mailed from Scandinavia. The clock, on the nightstand on the right, sat on Alex’s grandfather’s nightstand for years – I love when objects remind us of things like that.  The candelabra was a trash pick – and who doesn’t love the thrill of a free candelabra?

Image above: Our back ‘yard’ is pretty tiny but we make the most of it.  We hung string lights and have some bright pops of color from flowers and their pots and our bright blue table.

Image above:  I made the little clay number block while working at an art center, my dad made the window box and refinished this door which my mom found on Craigslist.  Alex installed the lamp – I think there is a sort of family trait nearing competition to see how resourceful we can be by repurposing old family items or recycling other people’s things – great for small budget, environmentally conscious, craft fiends like us.

  1. My goodness, that cake (and everything else honestly) looks heavenly! I like that almost every piece of decor has a personal history to it.

  2. nadya says:

    Love this! Thanks for introducing me to her house and work!

  3. Michelle says:

    Your dog is beautiful, as is your home. It’s so cozy!

  4. I love decor with history. Its how I prefer to decorate.

  5. We’re in Philadelphia too… we did the Society Hill trinity tours last summer. I was amazed at all the creative solutions people came up with for their small spaces… Most notably, a super-tiny beehive.

    Also learned that the “trinity” part of the name stands for faith, hope, and charity.

  6. What a lovely home! I love the bedroom, inspiration corkboard, artwork and most of all the cute pittie pup! :-)

  7. Flower1 says:

    Love that dog!

  8. Designerd in Philly says:

    It’s always great to see people from all walks of life in Philly sharing their homes on here. Small spaces and old homes demand creativity – and the solutions are what give Philly its charm.

  9. Rose Duggan says:

    Thanks so much for featuring a painter, it’s so helpful to see what other painters are doing in a profession that can sometimes be isolating. Plus, it gives me one more reason to get a pitbull!

  10. so awesome to see a ‘lived-in’ space and a real artists ‘mess’ what a breath of fresh air! i was just thinking about how often here the homes are so super neat and tidy- like my sisters, where i am afraid to dirty a dish or have a seat for messing something up… yay for artist homies living life!

  11. PhillyNative says:

    I don’t know what is more lovely, the house, the dog or the decor! I also loved the cake.

  12. Love that scary cookie jar cat! Plus much more… the exposed brick, personal touches, fantastic art collection. Thanks for sharing your home!

  13. Lizzie says:

    I love a pooch who knows their place! We have 3 … :) Great pad btw…

  14. Catherine says:

    how can one not love people who love dogs, eh?

  15. Aunt Bon says:

    This is awesome!!!!

  16. susan says:

    Nice to “meet” another philly creative! What a handsome pup!

  17. This tour is so lovely! I’m so fascinated by painters for whatever reason… And what a cute pooch. I’m in love :)

  18. Sm says:

    I have to ask…where did you get your beautiful gray coat? Love this

  19. Sara says:

    Gorgeous! I love that so many pieces have belonged to your families. I would love to know where the nightstands are from. They are lovely.

  20. Aubrey says:

    Hi! Thank you all so much for your kind and generous comments. I will pass them on to Nugget too, as you can see she loves the camera.

    The nightstands are from Alex’s parents home and are probably 15+ years old. I have asked them before and they don’t remember where, I think just a furniture store.

    My coat is from Bloomingdales:
    It’s still on the great sale I indulged in :)

    Many thanks to readers and designsponge, this was a ton of fun.


  21. sue says:

    I have been to this wonderful home many times, filled with love, light, two beautiful souls and Nugs. This was fabulous.

    The night tables-from a store in Philly-no longer there.

  22. Sue says:

    Many times I have been in this wonderful home filled with light, love, two beautiful souls and sweet, crazy Nuggs. This was fabulous !

  23. Michelle says:

    Where are your boots from? I love them!

  24. Tia Stockton says:

    Love the brick and plaster walls… so rustic and natural.

  25. says:

    may your life be as beautiful as your home and as loving as the two of you

  26. Gorgeous home and I LOVE your pup!

  27. ERINN says:

    What is the paint color in the living room?? You have a beautiful home.

  28. Leslie says:

    I love the coat but really want to know where the shoes are from. They are darling!

  29. Debbie says:

    What a beautiful and peaceful home! Your dog is gorgeous. Philly is a great place to live. Enjoy.

  30. Aubrey says:

    My shoes are coconuts brand — I believe from piperlime but a few years back. The paint in the living room is essentially a painters white that we are planning on changing actually! It was here when we got here…

  31. Clancie says:

    The most gorgeous dog!! sorry i’m blind to everything else (not really- its great :) but the pup takes the cake…in UK, we are not allowed to keep pit bull terriers, the breed is banned…so dumb.

  32. chelsea says:

    I love this interview and the pictures! I am a huge fan of your Etsy shop and your art so it was really awesome to see where all the paintings come from and your super-cute home! It is very inspiring because I am starting out with my boyfriend (and dog) collecting things for our home off verge-pickups, opshop, fixing old things up and being creative… so its fantastic to be inspired by your gorgeous home, it makes me really excited!!! xx

  33. Mark Grogan says:

    You have a gorgeous house that is rife with personality and life! The storage areas aand little nooks and crannies are just so telling of the warmth that you’ve put in your home! It’s really great to see homes that are lived in just right where the clutter looks like it just fits. Nice.


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.