A condo space “before” on the left and “after” on the right.

by Patricia Cove

Don’t we all love “Before and After” photos? I am always attracted to photos with “before and after” hairstyles or “before and after” weight loss or ensembles. And no matter the subject, doesn’t the “after” always look so much better? I don’t always know how that gets accomplished, but when it comes to “before and after” design projects, I think I have some inside secrets.

Significant changes to an interior space can cause quite a dramatic transformation. So much so, that it is hard to believe you are seeing the same location. It is fascinating to study the photographs and to see exactly what was done to make a space appear so shockingly different. Room makeovers are so interesting that shelter magazines devote entire issues to only “before and after” projects. So, while we are sitting inside our homes, I thought it might be fun to visualize a space of your own and how it could become an “After”.

To assist you in this I am showing you several photos of, believe it or not, the same space. The room is located within a high rise building on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Two years ago, long time clients decided to sell their traditional stone colonial on the Main Line and become city dwellers. After searching for just the right location, they settled on this gorgeous condominium, with a spacious floor plan, a terrific kitchen, beautiful views of the park and even a concierge service.

 But they had serious concerns. It was hard for them to see past the ultra- traditional surroundings of the condo, the antique furnishings, the oriental carpets and the historic color palette. After all, that is what they were leaving behind. They wanted fresh, new and cool.

So, while they could not make up their mind, they asked me to join them on a walk through.

I could tell right away that the building was solid, and the condo had great “bones”. Large windows flooded the spaces with light, and a terrace overlooked a courtyard brimming with trees and flowers. The layout was perfect for entertaining, and the existing kitchen cabinets would work within any new aesthetic. With amenities like these, transforming the interior to become their new, cool residence was definitely the way to go.

A project you may be considering may not be as dramatic, but using the photographs that accompany this article, I will list the changes we incorporated that transformed a 1700 aesthetic to one that is truly 2020

Although every room in the condo was changed, the accompanying photographs are of the living room. The previous owner had been an avid collector and had a keen sense of how things should be displayed. The paint colors were of an exceedingly warm color palette, and his antiques furnishings created a cozy space and intimate conversation area. The upholstery was all covered in camels and rich earth tones, and one wall displayed a row of burled book cases, above which hung a series of antique paintings.

On the other side of that wall was a guest room, that was accessed from a doorway in the kitchen. This presented a problem, because my clients wanted to incorporate a bar that could be used for entertaining, and that doorway was the perfect spot for it.

So, the redesign was underway. The color palette became unabashedly cool, yet still carried a warmth that could draw you into the space. The new owner’s favorite colors were shades of blue, so researching the fabrics and coordinating color palette became key. A muted silver wallcovering was chosen to serve as a subtle background, used to highlight new, streamlined upholstery pieces. A sleek, modern sofa was covered in a modern damask, and a contemporary “flame stitch” stripe was used to cover a discreet, custom designed storage ottoman, used as a cocktail table. The same fabric was also applied to an upholstered window cornice.

Three compact swivel chairs serve not only as part of the conversation grouping, but also to watch a TV, which was now integrated into a multi-functional, modern wall unit (where the burl book cases once stood), and also holds a state- of -the -art sound system.

The third section of the wall unit is the required entertainment bar, and a new entrance to the guest room, is now found on that wall to the left.

I am pleased to say that my clients absolutely love their new condo. It has the look and feel of Center City, but also the warmth and welcoming vibe of a home that is truly their own

So, my question to you is this: Do you have a space that you would like to see transformed? If you do, would you send me some photos? I would then use those photos in upcoming articles, and offer some explicit recommendations on how you can turn your space from a “Before” into an “After.” I cannot guarantee that I will use all the photos submitted but would certainly love to share the most challenging ones. Are you up for the challenge?

Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her web site or email at patricia@patriciacove.com.

Please take the time to support our journalism. You can do that with a subscription or with a tax-deductible donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, which launched a support fund for the Local to help us remain funded during this pandemic. Thank you for your support!