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100-year-old Classically Modern Family Home in Philadelphia

A 100-year-old Philadelphia estate gets a fresh look from New Trad Mona Ross Berman.

Set on lush wooded grounds just outside the city, the house pretty much has it all— stunning millwork, architectural details, modern furnishings, and a museum-quality photography collection. Berman’s job? To infuse antiques and traditional pieces into the mix. “A home with all-new furniture in the same style can feel flat,” she says. “I wanted to add layers, patina, and character into the space and bring it more in balance with the home’s architecture.”

The eclectic mix of antiques and modern classics in the foyer sets the tone. “The 
first thing I said when I saw the foyer was, ‘We need a tulip table in the middle of this room!’” recalls Berman. “It immediately shows that this house isn’t what you’d expect. It’s traditional, its classic, but it’s also going to surprise you.”

Eclectic space in black and white, white walls, round table
Eclectic space in black and white, white walls, round table, black tufted armchairs and black and white fireplace and round mirror above the mantle. The gray poodle is cute too!

A black-painted antique Windsor bench presents a stark contrast to the white entry hall, introducing a clean and classic tone for the home.

Black painted Windsor chair in the white entry hall.
Black painted Windsor chair in the white entry hall.

The owner has collected lavender glass bottles since college. Berman used the pieces as inspiration for accent color throughout the home.

A cherished collection of lavender glass bottles served as inspiration to introduce color as an accent. Playing up the subtle hue, French chairs flanking the living room fireplace are covered in a bold Muriel Brandolini print. “The fabric modernizes the chairs and really adds personality to the whole room,” notes Berman. “My clients were hesitant at first, but now the chairs are one of their favorite items.”

“The formal living room is used every day,” says designer Mona Ross Berman. “They have guests over, jam on the guitar and baby grand piano, and serve drinks from the bar cart.” The rug is a custom patchwork made of several antiques. The chairs are Jens Risom, another kid-friendly option for modern enthusiasts. “The fabric is nearly indestructible!” Berman jokes.

lavender bottle collection

A reproduction protest banner adds a focal point at the end of the upstairs hall.


While aesthetics were essential, practicality was the driving factor for the family. “With two children under 5 and a dog, the functionality of textiles was extremely important,” says Berman. “We laminated the eating banquette so that it’s nearly indestructible. Everything can be used and handled without worry. This is a beautiful home, but it’s lived in. We never wanted it to feel like a museum.”

Custom white cabinets sport Deco-inspired doors that feel fitting for the home. Countertops are soapstone. Carrara marble tiles by Waterworks line the backsplash.

White kitchen cabinets, walls and ceilings!
White kitchen cabinets, walls and ceilings!
A built-in cabinet displays vintage wedding china.
A built-in cabinet displays vintage wedding china.
Purple floral: A lively laminated fabric from Duralee covers the banquette.
Purple floral: A lively laminated fabric from Duralee covers the banquette.

The trim and walls were painted the same soft shade of lilac. “The tone-on-tone has a modernizing effect; it allows us to be respectful of the architecture but also mix in contemporary furnishings,” Berman says.

modern and old dining room

A bold geometric wallpaper from Osborne & Little makes this small powder room a dynamic space. A vintage mirror with its frame painted in pale lilac continues the home’s subtle purple theme.

bold geometric an dlilac wallpaper

Practicality is of the utmost importance in the simply furnished master bedroom. The duvet on the Design Within Reach bed has the look and feel of crushed velvet but is washable.

contemporary bedroom


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