A Philadelphia Home Transformed By Hand

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Our homes are powerful instruments of inspiration. There are few places that we can walk into and decide to change and personalize through furniture, color and finishes. Home is a safe place to express our personalities, tastes and creative innovation. Artist, textile designer and graphic designer Thao Nguyen and craftsman and builder, Anthony Angelicola have transformed a dilapidated carriage-house-turned-mechanics-garage into a minimal and rustic home for them to share in Philadelphia, PA. The project has taken them three years, and the result is breathtaking.

When this 1914 shell of a house in the Fishtown neighborhood was brought to Thao and Anthony’s attention, they weren’t looking to buy. Thao was working in Brooklyn, NY and Anthony in Philadelphia. When Thao was hired to be a textile designer for Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia, they decided to take on the renovation project and turn this house into their home. “The property was a complete shell (no interior walls, no plumbing or electrical) and [it had] some serious roof issues. It was formerly used as a mechanics garage and upholstery factory — there were a lot of existing materials we removed that allowed us to better appreciate the original architectural details,” Thao says. “We worked together to plan out the interior space and slowly worked on the renovation whilst maintaining full-time jobs. The process to make the home bare-bones move-in ready took 11 months, with us doing a majority of the renovation work ourselves including putting in skylights, sandblasting the wood beam ceiling and restoring the pine floors. Once we were able to move in, we worked another two years on the finer finish work — such as designing and installing custom oak french doors, open kitchen shelving and modern bathroom vanity.”

The process has been long and well worth it. The cozy-yet-minimal furniture and styling inside Thao and Anthony’s home is so beautifully done. Each room feels like a piece of artwork and the house itself, a gallery. “We wanted our home to reflect our favorite experiences traveling and appreciating art. One particularly is experiencing Donald Judd’s work out in West Texas — his philosophy for curating his home environment and work has a strong influence on how we approach furnishing our home. We designed and built many of the furniture pieces in the home to suit our needs but to keep in line with our simple and handcrafted aesthetic.” Their home’s transformation was spurred from inspiration, and their house is now the muse fueling their new home furniture line, Fire on the Mesa. This peaceful, eclectic and gorgeous home has been many things in the last 100 years, but it’s finally at its best. –Lauren

Photography by Heidi’s Bridge


The house is all painted in Benjamin Moore — Snowbound flat finish

chunky throw is from Kneeland Mercado
pillows from Urban Outfitters
oak coffee table and rustic side table is from Fire on the Mesa
teak wall units are from Vintadelphia
record player by Crosley
cacti from Shop Field

oak day bed is from Fire on the Mesa
linen pillow covers are from IKEA
closet doors are from Home Depot
cacti from Shop Field

ceramic sink and faucet, mirror are from IKEA
light is from Schoolhouse Electric
vanity is by Anthony Angelicola

closet doors are from Home Depot
maple and steel post bed is from Fire on the Mesa

stove, oven, cabinets, faucet are IKEA
metal sink is Karan
shelving, hood and side panel and poured concrete countertop are by Anthony Angelicola
dining table and chairs are from Fire on the Mesa
pendant light is from Schoolhouse Electric

lighting is from Schoolhouse Electric
sliding pocket doors are by Anthony Angelicola
cacti from Shop Field

  1. Maria says:

    beautiful! where is the rug in the living room from??

  2. Claudia says:

    Not to be pedantic, but those are not French doors. French doors have windows that extend almost their entire length.

    1. Caitlin Kelch says:


      Thanks! We’ll note that.


  3. Audrey says:

    Man I love your home!
    Great work!

  4. Thao says:

    Maria – Rug is from a Morrocan rug vendor off of Etsy! Forget the shop but there are many!

  5. Erin Belmore says:

    The lighting is what amaze me. I always wanted a home with a direct light shines on every corner of the house. It’s very relaxing I guess to stay here. I just love it. You did a great job on it. Thanks for inspiring me.

  6. caitlin says:

    WOW. this is a total dream. such wonderful collections of art & objects mixed with beautifully simple and modern handmade furniture. and the textiles! and the vintage! and the shower! really really nice.

  7. This may just come in handy; we’re also in the process of re-doing our kitchen and the only thing left is to change the sink. Thanks for the post!

  8. Gabi says:

    This space is perfect and proof that a refined home can also be cozy and personal. I love everything about it, especially the beautiful pieces from Fire on the Mesa. You’ve done a wonderful job!

    Do you remember the name of the “Dr. Seuss-looking palm?” Every time I see one I’m desperate to add it to my plant collection.

    1. june says:

      This is a Dracaena marginata. However it’s not very healthy. Looks like it could use more light and a larger pot to perk it up. It should be full of leaves, not spindly.

  9. Kaitlyn says:

    Amazing! Love the style! The hallway looks so nice.

  10. Jen says:

    Your home is stunning and I love that you did most of the work. I would love to know what the finish on the floor is. Thank you.

  11. Haley says:

    It’s perfect.
    Excited to see more from FOTM.

  12. Birdie says:

    The teak wall units are from Vintadelphia which you can find at this link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/VintaDelphia

  13. Summer says:

    I love your day bed! How do I purchase it? The website does not seem to offer options for purchase.

  14. robin says:

    i am getting ready to remodel my bathroom and i am drooooooling over the vanity you built. it is perfect! wish you lived in Portland, OR, and could build me one!

  15. Madie says:

    Wow! I love this house. I especially like the vanity in the bathroom. Does Anthony do custom work in Philly?


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