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The Sensory Peacock Kitchen

Philadelphia row homes: a style unto themselves.

The row home shared walls make them easier to heat, but the lack of windows and proximity to neighbors can be challenging for people who need natural light and quiet in order to thrive.

We picked this West Kensington house for its high ceilings and proximity to Norris Square Park. With a modest renovation budget, we took this kitchen down to the studs and created a sanctuary which integrates as much nature as an urban setting can provide. 

The Joys and the Pitfalls

The biggest issue that plagues Design it Yourself home renovations is selecting fixtures and finishes that you love, AND that harmonize with one another. We are NOT in favor of the matchy-matchy look, but there's nothing more heart-rending than installing your new cabinets over your new floor and realizing that they clash

How we avoided this: we chose the floor first. (Wood-look ceramic tile: durable, attractive, easy to clean, doesn't show dirt.) Then we physically carried a floor tile to the cabinet maker, a cabinet panel to the countertop maker, and so forth. There's no substitute for experiencing a combination live and in person.  

Then we encountered another hitch: Trend Assumption. Our contractor didn’t ask what tile we wanted for the backsplash. He said, “People get white subway tile.”


The tile our chastened contractor installed was NOT stolen from an archaeological dig in Morocco and smuggled into harbor by pirates at astronomical expense. I found it by scrolling through hundreds of tile patterns online and ordered it through Home Depot. But you’d never know the difference.

Sensory lighting: indirect, warm, and adjustable

The light fixture over the dining nook, by Fanimation, contains a variable speed ceiling fan. We chose it because it dims, and does NOT have bare bulbs pointing toward people's faces

The pendants over the island are fitted with dimmable bulbs from IKEA, and are hung low enough that they illuminate the work area without shining into eyes

Overhead halogen lights in the business section of the kitchen are adjustable and point at work surfaces

As we are in a dense urban area, the only time this kitchen gets direct sunlight is around sunset at certain times of the year. We treasure these moments, knowing that eventually there will probably be a three-story building blocking the light. 

Thus, the windows have only sheer curtains and as many low-light plants as we can manage. Cinder block walls and fences provide as much privacy as we could ask for. 

Are We Done Yet? OH HELL NO.

Now is the time for the art deco peacock mural, of course. Shapes: from the plants. Colors: from the Tiffany lamp

Authentic, not catastrophic

Our clients: Creative and brilliant. Of course.

We enable and facilitate our clients' creativity, by helping you understand your aesthetic and sensory needs. When you have a brilliant idea for an unconventional theme–like a peacock jungle in your urban kitchen–we help you execute your idea in a way that WORKS. 

Got an idea? Get in touch. We would love to hear it