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Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home

by Annie Werbler

“We are pretty much always working on projects together,” says Kimberly Hall of husband Justin Hardison. “We’ve done photography and video collaborations, music, and graphic design. I’ve roped him into my work as a fashion and accessory designer, and he’s used my skills in many of his music projects.” Their latest venture is a print and pattern studio called Nottene (a Norwegian word that means nuts) where their work “comes from a practice of storytelling through drawing.” With space on the top floor of their 2,000-square-foot Philadelphia, PA home, they can sometimes include young daughters Wilhelmina and Berta-June, “who are also way into making stuff” in the creative process — a critical part of getting their business going and growing.

Kimberly tries out a lot of the ideas she has for Nottene in their own home. Redecorating is one of her favorite things, and she loves having a space where she can do it freely. She has been slowly painting every wall in the house, and will be putting up more wallpaper now that she’s producing a line of it. She hand-painted pale pink stripes in the family room, faux bois under the kitchen cabinets, a fake fireplace in the girls’ room, tiles in the bathroom, and hand-drawn molding in the living room. While she dives into the decorating, Justin takes care of the repairs and upkeep required of a 1900s brick row home, though they ask for their dads’ help with maintenance projects as often as possible.

After living in lots of places over the years and making tons of great artist friends spread far and wide, Kimberly also enjoys displaying their work in the house as reminders of them and their times together. The warm, welcoming community has filled the family in on the backstory of their own property, making it feel like home. “The neighbors on our block, the families we meet through public school, as well as the amazing artist’s community here have made our lives very rich in this city.” —Annie

Photography by Justin Hardison and Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
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In the master bedroom, a pretty vignette includes one of Kimberly's favorite lamps, a collection of the little trolls and people. The speech bubble comes from one of her favorite Philly artists, Martha Rich, and the riso print is by Josh McKenna who Kimberly met at the now-closed Brooklyn location of Makeshift Society.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
2/16
Kimberly, Justin, Bertie, and Willa on their patio. "I don’t think we’ve shot a family portrait ever before, and this was so fun. The girls love to dress up, and any excuse is worth it," Kimberly shares.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
3/16
In another corner of the bedroom, a pillow from Kimberly and Justin's honeymoon in Greece fuels her textile addiction and comes with built-in evil eye protection. The eyeball print is a poster for a show in Stockholm a decade ago.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
4/16
Wilhelmina and Bertie share the largest bedroom. "The light fixture actually came with house and I sort of started there when I picked the wallpaper," Kimberly adds. She wallpapered one accent wall, as the material was too expensive to cover the large room, and kids might not keep it pristine anyhow.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
5/16
Kimberly's illustrated section of the house on top of her Stripes wallpaper.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
6/16
Downstairs, Kimberly bought the living room piano for Justin as soon as they moved in. "We had a piano in our house when I was a kid," she recalls, "And while I never learned to play, I love hearing music in the house when Justin or Wilhelmina do."
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
7/16
To the left of the original fireplace is a fabric piece of art called Juan that the couple bought at a yard sale when they lived in Denver, CO. The footstool is upholstered in a batik that Kimberly and Wilhelmina made for ICFF.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
8/16
A small gathering of plates in a stairwell. "While I don’t have too many comprehensive collections, I do love to collect just about anything!," Kimberly says. "The plate on top says it’s from Bundles for Britain and it reminds me of our time in the UK, the one in the middle is simply Made in Japan and fuels my interest in visiting, and the metal plate on the bottom says Norge, and it belonged to my maternal grandmother who was a first-generation American from Norway."
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
9/16
The dining room was added to the house about 12 years ago, designed by a neighbor for a previous owner. A column is covered in chalkboard paint for the girls to use while their parents cook, and the church pew came from Kimberly's sister’s church when they renovated. The bold Marimekko textile piece has moved around with the couple since they first met.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
10/16
Kimberly enjoys finding little ways of bringing more pattern and color to the kitchen, such as painting a faux bois pattern under the cabinets. Her small collection of canisters, vases, salt and pepper shakers, and figurines brings color over the sink.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
11/16
A wilderness map wallcovering lines the stairwell, reminding Kimberly of the house she grew up in which had a paper with trees and scenes that she used to stare at for hours.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
12/16
The family room has a bamboo ceiling and old floors that give the room a sense of coziness. Bookcases and a big comfy couch amplify the effect. "It’s also the TV room, where we have lots of movie nights with the girls," Kimberly shares. "We even bought an old VCR at the thrift store so we could buy up all those weird 50¢ videos you find there."
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
13/16
In the adjacent bathroom, Kimberly handprinted fake tiles around the soaking tub, and displayed a framed Land Mammals of Britain poster that was special insert in The Guardian.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
14/16
"What I love most about my home is drawing all the bits of everyday life here." - Kimberly Hall
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
15/16
In the attic studio with exposed beams, Kimberly's desk by the window can be cleared away for product shots, and scavenged drawers provide plenty of storage.
Storytelling Through Drawing in a Philadelphia Row Home, on Design*Sponge
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Kimberly's father built the racks for hanging products, which she feels keeps her on the right track. Justin’s screen leans against the rack, which will be used to print postcards.

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Comments

  • Beautiful home, love the girls’ bedroom but I was disappointed that I couldn’t really see the painted pink and white stripes in the family room. I am looking to do something similar and when I read the text I was excited to see it but it must have been a very subtle paint job or else done on a wall that was not shown.

    • Hi Margo,
      The stripes are pretty subtle, a light peachy pink on white. I used a sawtooth tool to scrape back the pink to reveal the white. The stripes are a bit wobbly and totally not straight. They are on all the walls, and you can just see it in the lower left corner of image number 12. Good luck with your own stripes!

  • Simply beautiful and unique in every way. Kimberly you and your family found your place and it’s amazing!

    • Hi:)Sorry but nottene is not a Norwegian word , it is almost right but at the same time not right at all. In Norwegian there is a letter that is a o with a line crossing it. It is Nøttene with a ø not a o. The home and art work is Lovely. Best Veslemøy.

      • Thanks Veslemøy!! We should change how we describe our name….we were inspired by the Norwegian word for nuts is perhaps better…. :)

    • Hi Emerald, it’s one of those Ikea book shelves that are the perfect size for records….we just added some tall feet!

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