A Spirit of Generosity in a Philadelphia Home

Designer Mike Smith and writer Chara Odhner have a spirit of generosity and openness that truly captures the spirit of the Philadelphia apartment they’ve lived in for just about three years now. Mike says they don’t have a specific decorating style, just that he’s not much of a minimalist and wants the space to feel warm and welcoming for guests. He wants people to come over and feel like it’s their home as well. Look around and you’ll see that the space is filled with work made by close friends of theirs. The same could be said about their professional lives as well, where both Mike and Chara devote their creative work to worthy causes. Mike splits his time between designing for charity:water and working on a variety of branding and poster design projects. Chara is a writer and associate creative director for a branding agency with a client roster that focuses in the nonprofit realm. Thank you, Mike and Chara! Shannon

Image above: I got both of these goods from New Hope, PA. It’s the most amazing little town that is saturated with antique stores. I bought the typewriter for Chara’s birthday, she’s a copywriter and she had always dropped hints about wanting an old, working typewriter. I found one, and we bought some new ink ribbons for it, and now it works like a charm.

Image above: I’ve had this poster since college, when my friend Stephanie Capolupo had a show of about 20 of these big boys. I loved the colors of it so much that I asked if I could buy one when the show was over. She ended up just giving one to me, and I’ve treasured it ever since. Someday, I’d like to get a frame for it. But the light in the dining room is like no other and on a sunny day it feels absolutely perfect.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

See more of this Philadelphia home after the jump…

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: This photo has two of my most favorite things I own in it. My Great Gatsby print by Heads of State and my woodblock letter table by Robert True Ogden. Both pieces are extremely special to me and I will keep them with me for the rest of my life no matter where I go.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: There’s nothing better than eating dinner and tossing on a record to listen to. Chara and I love to cook together and then talk for a while without the TV or any kind of technology distracting us. Just a conversation and some Good Old War spinning.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: The Scrabble set was another gift for Chara. Like I mentioned earlier, she’s a copywriter by trade and she loves to play Scrabble. So for Christmas I bought this typography edition Scrabble board and it was the best of both worlds: I love type and she loves the words made from them. It was a win-win purchase. Speaking of winning, I put up a good fight and we’re tied in the rankings as of now.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: I graduated as a printmaker and I used to make a lot more posters than I do now. I ended up making friends with a lot of fellow printmakers and we would always swap prints. I love screen printing and I try to buy posters as often as possible so I can swap out posters on this line every now and then. The ones up there now are (from left to right) Two Arms, Aesthetic Apparatus, my old roommate Chris Muccioli, Shawn Hileman, Aaron Eiland, & Vahalla Studios.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: We got these little guys from Terrain to break up the space between the dining room and the living room. Just wanted to create a visual element that divided the two.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: Chara had been dying to get a beautiful tea kettle for a few months. We went to a ton of stores and every flea market we could to try to find “The One.” We ended up stumbling upon this one day and it was “It.” I asked her if she wanted to keep looking around and she immediately said no, “This is it.” It’s from the 60’s-70’s by Michael Lax Design.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: In classic Philadelphia style our hallways take up 90% of our apartment, so we went to a little rug shop in Lambertville, NJ (right over the river from New Hope) and bought this authentic Afghan rug. It really helps the hallways not feel so boring.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: This is my “special” area. I’d say I spend a majority of my time in this room, so I surrounded it with a ton of posters from some really good friends of mine. And also a picture of my Mom for good measure.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: We try to keep the bedroom simple so we don’t stay in bed all day. The poster above the bed is very special to me. My friend Albin Holmqvist brought it by hand all the way from Sweden to give it to me on one of his visits. And it’s an extremely fitting poster for a bedroom, since ya gotta keep getting up everyday.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks
Image above: This poster is by Adam Garcia and it is by far one of my favorite posters of all time. So simple. So true. I met Adam for a hot second while he was doing some work for 160over90 and I told him that this was my favorite poster and a few weeks later I got it in the mail. Could not have been more grateful for that. So thanks, dude, you’re the absolute best.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

Design*Sponge Sneak Peeks

  1. Wow, absolutely love this whole place, especially the art. And I actually gasped loudly when I saw that letterpress coffee table – I’m at work and got some funny looks!

  2. Ahhh that is now one of my favourite Design*Sponge houses ever. Love everything in it – it feels so laidback and comfortable and warm. And I need that Adam Garcia poster in my life, hanging above my desk!

  3. Veronica says:

    Great home! Where is that bedding from?

  4. Preeti says:

    I loved this home so so much. Really full of inspirations and simplicity!

  5. Leah B says:

    I am so drawn to this cozy space. Whenever I end up in my forever-home, I want it to be as inviting as this is.

  6. Sara says:

    Love this so much! Everything looks so welcoming and cosy – the kind of place where you could kick back with a glass of wine and a kick-ass record. I need that Adam Garcia poster too – does he still sell them, does anyone know?

    And, Mike, you come across as being the loveliest person – I wish you were my neighbour!

  7. Sara says:

    Love, love, love! My favourite home in a long time. Amazing posters and lots of other incredible things that grab your interest.

    Mike, you come across as being such a great bloke, too – bet parties at your place are a ball :-)

  8. Amber says:

    Love that coffee table!

  9. that coffee table is the one of my dreams. now, i will forever long for it.

  10. LE says:

    Does your friend Stephanie still make prints of that poster? It is exactly what I have been looking for.

  11. Rebecca M says:

    I love your woodblock-letter coffee table.

  12. Eileen says:

    I grew up with that kettle, in dark orange….

  13. Mike Smith says:

    Whoa, thanks sos much everyone. Yes Adam Garcia still sells that poster, you can buy it here » http://thepressure.org/product/. The bedding is surprisingly from Ikea, super clean and simple. I do notttttt think Steph still makes these, it was for her college thesis about 5 years ago. Thanks again everyone.

  14. gina says:

    Love the tea kettle! A perfect yellow…

  15. honeysuckle says:

    full of original ideas and unstagey coolness!

  16. Dominique says:

    That coffee table and scrabble board make me want to sit around and play games for hours! Love the favourite thing image at the bottom too.

  17. Quelcy says:

    I love the low-angled photography approach to this home tour. It’s like seeing the home from a napping dog view. :) Great tour!

  18. Margie says:

    Love this home – and great to see the same IKEA table that I have in the mix :) Thanks for sharing!

  19. Anastasia says:

    The letter table is adorable!

  20. Monika says:

    What neighborhood are you guys in? I just moved to Philly and am still trying to get a feel for the area. Your home is great!

  21. Eva says:

    What a stylish, well-curated but stil homey home! And wow, that coffee table… Well done!

  22. Merysa says:

    The coffee table is great. It really captures the zeitgeist of today, although any graphic designer, typographer or writer would love this in any era. So nice to see one of a kind things.

  23. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.


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