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A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpourri of Architectural Styles

by Sofia Tuovinen

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

In the early 1970s, the renowned Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn took on a project that entailed turning a century-old Philadelphia, PA corner storefront, the spaces above it, and the adjacent colonial row house into one single family home. The end result is a home with layers and layers of history — an intriguing mix of styles, boasting everything from historic brick walls and beams to modern, minimalist lines that Khan himself has become known and admired for. Elizabeth and Jeffrey Bergeland, “a couple of rock-climbing Colorado kids who somehow ended up in the middle of the city,” have called this unique family home their own for the last five years.

The house, located in the heart of the historic Queen Village neighborhood, isn’t hard to miss — its oversized statement arch entry is unlike anything else in the area. Viewing it for the first time, Elizabeth, an artist, and Jeffrey, VP at a tech startup, knew they had their work cut out for them, but the endless potential and unique features, including a private outdoor courtyard, couldn’t be ignored. To make the house functional for their family, the couple dove right in — they gutted the kitchen, removed dropped ceilings, exposed original 19th-century beams and got rid of some walls for better flow. The dining room, which was covered in mirrors from floor to ceiling when the family moved in, was also redone to reflect both the earlier history of the house and the family’s own eclectic taste. Design-wise, the potpourri of architectural styles in the home has felt nothing but liberating. “[It] has given us a lot of freedom and taken off a lot of ‘design pressure’ in terms of styling our home. You can’t really tell exactly what style the house is, and most of the time, I can’t really tell what I’m going for either!” Elizabeth laughs.

Although Elizabeth and Jeffrey have focused on creating a home that truly nourishes their family’s creative spirit, they know that a home is not just about the things that you can fit inside four walls. “Decorating a home is expensive and time-consuming,“ Elizabeth says. “Making a home is so much more about the collective home — the community you take the time to build, and the experiences inside and outside of the house itself,” she explains. The couple originally honed in on the Queen Village area because of the great K-8 public school that would be ideal for their children Worth, Adlai and Alouette. In addition to good education, the tight-knit neighborhood now offers the family a wonderful sense of community they wouldn’t trade for anything. “We honestly feel like our neighborhood is one of those very rare, special places on the planet,” they share. “There’s live music in the parks throughout the summer, movies on the lawn, impromptu picnics, al fresco dining, organized ballroom dance lessons and farmers markets at the Square, a neighborhood association that plants dozens of trees for free each year, a thriving business district with shops and dining, and always a block party to attend. We could go on and on — it’s really a true community.” The family’s advice to others who are in the midst of renovating or decorating is not to rush things, not to take things too seriously, and to focus on what your surroundings can offer. “[…] Like any creative endeavor, [a home] will never feel quite finished or just the way you want it in its entirety. Go ahead and have many seasons of abandoning home projects. Go outside the house walls and do some living!” —Sofia

Photography by Elizabeth Bergeland / @elizabethbergeland
Close-up family portrait by Jennifer Buhl at Happy Hour Headshot / @thehappyhourheadshot

Image above: The Bergeland family at the front entry of their Philadelphia home. The huge arch is a signature of architect Louis Kahn, who redesigned parts of the historic home in the early 1970s.

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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Elizabeth and Jeffrey with their children Worth, Alouette and Adlai. “We identify at our core as being very outdoorsy, mountain-loving folk, but we almost instinctively migrated toward city life,” Elizabeth says. “It nourishes our mutual love of all things art, music, style and so many interesting people. We still get our mountains with frequent family visits to Colorado, but feel so utterly at home in Philly,” she adds. 

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The entry soaks in natural light and offers a view straight toward the family’s private courtyard. “Right away, you get to interact with everything that makes this house unique — the modern entryway and stairway, flanked by historic exposed brick and unexpected angles. Above, the ceiling reaches two stories high, which gives such great drama to this first interaction,” Elizabeth shares. 

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Completely surrounded by the rest of the house, the private courtyard is both physically and symbolically the heart of the home, and the family’s absolute favorite space. “We’re a house full of introverts and the hammock provides each of us respite at various times throughout any given day.”

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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The family painted the concrete floor of the courtyard with turquoise and white concrete stain that cheers up the space even during winter months.

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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The sitting room, with a view of the courtyard, is where the kids play games and do their homework. “We got the piano from an old church basement for $100 when we lived in Salt Lake City,” Elizabeth shares. “We’ve hauled [it] across the country, up and down dozens of stairs, and to three different homes in three different states. I sit down to play this old girl every single day. Music-making is the best stress relief for us!”

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The family room, located in a sunny corner on the second floor, is where the family spends most of their time together. “Since this room is always filled with activity, we try to keep the decorative noise to a minimum — simple, clean lines, with very little on the walls,” Elizabeth explains.

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The tie-dye sofa in the family room is Elizabeth’s favorite DIY project. “When we first moved in, I wanted this room to feel very Scandinavian, with white washed floors, walls and furniture and blonde wood accents,” she says. “Despite our children being two, four and six at the time, I insisted on buying a white sofa. […] Six months later, the white sofa was grey with accents of marker or whatever else the kids had managed to spill on it. […] I stripped all the cushion covers and indigo tie-dyed them! What started as a very practical decision, ended up being my most proud, favorite design element of the house.”

 

Making a home is so much more about the collective home — the community you take the time to build — the experiences inside and outside of the house itself.

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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Black and white family photos taped to the wall in the family room add to the relaxed and homey feel of the space. “We have had the same photographer, Heather Nan, documenting our family over the years. These were our first set of family photos in this home and mean a great deal to us because of that,” Elizabeth and Jeffrey share. 

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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The dining room was one of the spaces that underwent the biggest transformation when the family first moved in, as the walls were covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors. To check if a wall was load-bearing, Elizabeth and Jeffrey had to take out a part of the existing ceiling. They found old beams and the original ceiling, hidden three feet above the drop ceiling. “It wasn’t a part of our original plan or budget, but I couldn’t bear the thought of these gorgeous old beams being covered up again. We tore down the entire ceiling to expose the old beams and duct,” Elizabeth explains. 

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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Cherished heirloom pieces have been paired with modern furniture and Southwest inspired details. “I feel like the styling of our dining room completely captures all parts of us,” Elizabeth says.

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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The kitchen renovation was the biggest undertaking in the house. Three walls were torn down, the ceiling was raised and the footprint enlarged. “We’ve always loved the modern industrial look of stainless steel cabinets, but wanted to warm up the feel with extra-thick wood counter tops,” Elizabeth shares. Her favorite detail is the tile floor, made from saltillo terracotta tiles from Mexico. “I love the sort of Old World Western warmth they bring to the kitchen,” she adds. 

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“We love our home because it’s our safe place — where we can fully be whatever we might need to be today.” — the Bergeland Family.

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It was important for Elizabeth and Jeffrey to keep the main bedroom feeling quiet and free of distraction. The cardboard moose head on the wall is a nod to the couple’s Colorado roots.

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The antique shelf above the bed is one of the first things that Elizabeth and Jeffrey bought together. “I love its subtle curved silhouette and have never been able to put anything more than a few simple candles on it for fear of hiding the shape,” Elizabeth explains. 

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The dressing table is Elizabeth’s own little corner of the world. “The nightgowns are absolute treasures for me. The one on the right is a Victorian era piece from my grandmother,” she says.

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Some of Elizabeth’s favorite treasures: fragrances, pictures of her children, beautiful cards from Jeffrey, and a handmade pouch from her sister that reads “Elizabeth Joy’s most precious treasures,” an ode to Jane Austin’s Emma

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Worth’s room, perched in the corner of the top floor of the house, feels like a lookout tower where you can admire the sunrise, watch neighbors having summer cookouts on the rooftop decks and peer down at people on the street.

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Worth’s room features a bold and vibrant turquoise accent wall, bursts of marigold and pink, and a growing library of books and albums.

A Philadelphia Home that Boasts a Potpurri of Architectural Styles | Design*Sponge

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Elizabeth’s art studio is located on the third floor of the house, adjacent to Worth’s room. For Elizabeth, opening the fence gate to the studio each morning feels like entering a secret garden.

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A self-portrait that Elizabeth has painted rests against the studio wall. “I always love the conversation with real and imagined elements — things that look very lifelike, paired with some very flat 2D paper-like elements,” she explains. 

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Elizabeth primarily works with oil painting, but also does illustrating with pencil and watercolor. Her first children’s book with author Ben Brashares is being published by Little,Brown and is due out early 2019. 

SOURCE LIST

Exterior and Outdoor Spaces
Planters – City Planter

Entryway
Stair riser paint – Benjamin Moore “Mountain Peak White
Wall color – Benjamin Moore “Pewter”
Rug – Salt Lake Rug Company
Candlesticks – Shop Yowie
Artwork – Elizabeth Bergeland

Courtyard
Hammock – Hayneedle
Planter – City Planter
String lights – Home Depot
Concrete stain color – Sherwin Williams “Intense Teal”

Sitting Room
Corner cabinet – Watson & Co
Rug – Target

Living Room
Wall paint color – Benjamin Moore “Mountain Peak White”
Floor stain – Minwax “Pickled Oak”
Corner sofa/rug/light/curtains – IKEA
Indigo tie-dye kit: Dharma Trading
Wicker chair: Tucker’s Digs

Dining Room
Wall paint colors –  Behr “Striking” and Benjamin Moore “Mountain Peak White”
Table – Anthropologie
Shelves/pillows – IKEA
Light fixtures – Shades of Light
Candles – Shop Yowie
Chairs – Poly and Bark

Kitchen
Stainless steel countertops – Danver
Wood countertops and shelves –  Boards & Beams
Tile floor – Rustico Tile
Stoneware – Sur la Table
Dish towel – Moon and Arrow
Faucet – Home Depot
Lighting – West Elm

Main Bedroom
Wall paint color – Benjamin Moore “Mountain Peak White”
Chair – Urban Outfitters
Cardboard moose mount – Cardboard Safari
Rug – IKEA
Duvet – Overstock

Worth’s Room
Wall paint colors – Behr “Tsunami” and Benjamin Moore “Mountain Peak White”
Ukulele – Ukulele Orchestra
Duvet – Urban Outfitters
Rug and pillows – Target
Light and pillows – IKEA

Studio
Wall paint color – Benjamin Moore “Monticello Rose”
All artwork –  Elizabeth Bergeland

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