Creating A Sense Of Refinement In Historic Rittenhouse Square

Located in one of Philadelphia’s most storied neighborhoods, a chic Rittenhouse Square condominium received a glamorous makeover from Glenna Stone Interior Design. The former brick mansion dating back to the 1850s was transformed into several upscale condominiums, and the interiors of the unit she designed are filled with bespoke details right in keeping with the owners’ love for welcoming style and fine artwork. Glenna Stone enhanced the light-filled layout and played up the soaring 15-foot ceilings using a combination of tactile and visual textures. The artful result is a splendid showcase of approachable refinement. She recently spoke to aspire design and home about her imaginative design process.

an antique mirror reflects the living room in a rittenhouse square home

Gwen Donovan: What was your approach to the re-design of this home?
Glenna Stone: From a design standpoint, we took our inspiration from the clients’ luxe Alexander McQueen “Monarch Fire” rug and created the entire concept around it. With regard to architectural elements, the vestibule has the original marble wainscoting, floor and trim, and we wanted to highlight this in a way that tied in with the clients’ modern style. There was also an antique oversized, carved wooden mirror on the wall as you enter the living room, so we envisioned the entry in the context of this mirror by pairing it with a minimalist wooden console table that allows for a “drop zone” for keys and mail.

Gwen: How did you create spaces that reflect the owners’ personalities and interests?
Glenna: Collecting art and traveling are two passions, and we wanted a fabulous setting for their artwork and mementos. The twin bookshelves and coffee table display souvenirs, keepsakes and books. In addition, a vintage bar cart speaks to their love of entertaining. Finally, they wanted space that made a statement without being over-the-top, and we worked with textural elements, patterns and color to achieve this.

Gwen: The bold use of wallpaper in the vestibule and powder room really adds a graphic pop to those spaces, tell us a little more about why they were chosen.
Glenna: The wallpaper in both spaces “talks to” the Alexander McQueen rug; both the reds/oranges in the powder room and the cream/black in the vestibule tie into the palette of the rug. Additionally, the clean geometric lines in the vestibule highlight the original marble details, and the pattern and color in the powder room make a big, fun impact in the small space.

Gwen: Artwork is another notable aspect of this design. Can you talk about the original Yelchin painting above the living room sofa and the whimsical “Cookie” painting by Donald Roller Wilson in the powder room– How do those pieces fit into the design scheme and make those spaces more memorable?
Glenna: “Cookie” is fun and cheeky, which is a bit of a departure for a powder room but definitely fits with the clients’ personalities and the liveliness of the wallpaper. The Yelchin adds interest and pulls in the blue of the accent chairs without overpowering the rug.

a busy floral wallpaper in oranges and blues covers the bathroom in a rittenhouse square townhouse

Gwen: Your use of wood, silk brass, velvet and marble creates a tactile and visual texture story. Describe how the combination of those elements informed a seamless, cohesive look.
Glenna: We used these to create balance and harmony between hard and soft. Wood, brass, glass and mirrors in the bookcases, tables, lamps and bar cart are softened by the plush blue velvet of the chairs, the luxurious silk of the rug, and the neutral linen of the sofa. By selecting furnishings with clean silhouettes, we were able to get a little funky with accents and patterns.

Gwen: What is your favorite room or design feature in this home?
Glenna: I absolutely loved the Alexander McQueen rug – it was so fabulous! It was also amazing to design a living room without a TV as the focal point. This is a really elegant, upscale space for entertaining, and nothing was off-limits when it came to patterns or fabrics.

living room in an historic rittenhouse square house

Gwen: How did the owners react to their newly re-designed home?
Glenna: They loved it! They felt that we listened to their needs, and in fact were so happy that they put one of our signs in their window for pedestrians to see (and Rittenhouse Square gets a lot of foot traffic)!

Gwen: What is the vibe in Rittenhouse Square?
Glenna: The neighborhood surrounds Rittenhouse Square Park, one of the original five parks created by William Penn when he designed the city. It’s a hub for fine dining, luxury retail boutiques, and upscale galleries. With high-rise apartment buildings and charming brownstones, it’s a haven for both young professionals and retirees who want to live in Center City and enjoy the walkability and prestige of this area.

Gwen: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this design project?
Glenna: For us, the best aspect of this project (and all of our projects) was taking our clients’ needs, wants and inspiration, and crafting a beautiful and livable design that embodied “home” for them.

For more like this Rittenhouse Square residence, be sure to check out this Arts & Crafts style home in Brooklyn.

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