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November 2, 2014

Won’t You Be My Neighbor – An Update On One Of Our Favorites!


By Eartha Kitsch

A recurring pattern on our “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” posts  is that before it’s done, someone will say, “I hope that the new owners treasure this house!” Unfortunately, we very seldom ever know what happens to these time capsule homes once our virtual tours are over. I’ve always wished that we could know though! Well, just this past week, it happened! You see, months ago, I shared a house that was admittedly one of my favorites ever featured.  Let me jog your memory a little. It was this fabulous house in Philadelphia, built in 1957.



Super cute, right? If you didn’t see that particular post, let me show you a little of the inside too. My favorite rooms included:


The Foyer



 Living Room and Dining Room



The Family/Entertainment Room





The Kitchen



The Baths




And one of the cutest patios ever:



So, that brings us up to date a little.  I was so delighted to see a brand new comment pop up on the post from a lady named Jenn who mentioned that she and her husband Jack bought this dream of a home! Yay! And the icing on the cake is that they love the home for just what it is – and aren’t aiming to gut it or knock it down and put a McMansion in its place. Whoohoo!    I’m so glad that she popped by to let us know!  It turns out that Jenn and Jack have started their very own blog about owning  the home and their path to restore it. It’s called midmodlife:

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Before I went over to their blog, I expected to see a photo of them relaxing in their new digs, smiling like crazy. What I found was a lot of pride and happiness but also, a LOT of work going on! I admire them like heck for it too. A lot of home blogs make everything seem like sunshine and rainbows when honestly, most times, buying a house – especially a house that is decades old – is more than one soul’s fair share of good old fashioned, hard work. I’ve read all of their posts with not only the expected tad of envy that they get to live in such a wonderful house but also, with a lot of admiration too. These kids are working HARD.


Here you’ll see Jenn wearing quite the industrial respirator for instance, in a post entitled ” It’s Been A Busy Week Here At Biohazard Manor”.

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You see, they are only the third family to own this home but the second family, well…they were serious smokers. Jenn and Jack have been thrown into a cleanup that involves eradicating every single surface in the house of layers of nicotine. Whooowhee….can you imagine? I’ll let you check out their blog to see some of their before and after shots but let me tell you, they are impressive – and this couple does not shy away from applying the elbow grease!  You know, “sweat equity” as they like to call it on the home improvement shows.

Their blog is only five weeks in but so far, other projects so far have included a roof rebuild, repairing the damage from a dripping pipe inside of a wall and carpet padding that was dry-rotted into oblivion.

Here you’ll see Jack. No, that’s not a beach in the couple’s living room. That’s what’s left of the carpet padding!


As you can tell, they’ve been working like crazy.  The couple are moving into their home this weekend but Jenn was nice enough (and somehow found the time to) answer a few questions for me in the midst of the mayhem.

Had you and Jack been looking for a house long? Were you exclusively looking for a vintage home? How many houses had you seen before you found this one?

Jack and I started looking sometime around February.  We had just put our own house, a cute little 1955 contemporary split, on the market.  But we just couldn’t find anything that we liked, that was also in our price range.  (A lot of the really cool MCMs in the Philly area cost a fortune.)  We definitely wanted a MCM, which cut our choices waaaaayyyyyyy down because Philly isn’t like Palm Springs, that style is hard to come by around here.  But we were willing to wait for the right place, and ended up moving into a temporary apartment after selling our house so we wouldn’t feel rushed to buy something that wasn’t 100% perfect for us.  Over the course of 6 months, we only went to maybe a half dozen showings…  we weeded a lot out just from the listings, and our realtor Marion Dinofa  specializes in MCMs, which made the whole process really efficient because she didn’t send us listings for houses that weren’t our style.

Sounds like you two really were focused in your search! What were you first impressions when you saw this home? Were you instantly in love? Did the smoke smell deter you any at all? Did you have a “Oh my god, we must own this house!” moment?

Jack was in love with it from the moment he saw the listing.  I was working in New York that day, and up popped an email from him saying “oh my god!!!” and a link to the listing.  When I went through the photos, I thought he was crazy because 1. it was in a town we had ruled out because it was super far from his work, and 2. the crazy orange kitchen just didn’t seem like something he’d want.  (He’s the chef in the relationship, and one of the things we wanted in our dream house was a big kitchen…  but orange?)  So we didn’t set up a showing.

A couple of weeks later, Jack was looking around online and the listing popped up again, and he was like, “should we just go see it…?”  And within a few minutes of walking in the house, we knew we were putting in an offer.  We barely noticed the smoke smell that first time through, because we were freaking out about all the cool features.  We’ve only touched on a fraction of them in the blog right now, but the place has so many fun little details.

Here’s the crazy thing — the only reason the house was still on the market 2 weeks later, is that the seller kept canceling showings because she wasn’t ready to sell the place.  She cancelled 7 other showings.  We were the first people she let in the door, and she accepted our offer the same day.  We feel like the universe was going, “um, HELLO???  you’re meant to have this house!”

Wow! Talk about Fate! That’s incredible! The home must have been waiting for you. What parts of the house did you think that you might change at first glance but are now in love with?

I can’t think of anything that we changed our minds about.  Everything that’s unique about the house is totally staying, the only things we’re really changing are the carpets and most of the wallpaper.

 It looks like you’ve had some major projects going on so far!  What more enjoyable jobs are you looking forward to once these urgent repairs are done?

I would love love love to put in a little swanky pool area out back, that would coordinate with the existing slate patio.


But that’s going to be way in the future, because these repairs are taking every penny we have!  We also have some vintage furniture refinishing to do, which we’ll post about once we can actually think about it.  That one will probably happen after the holidays and we are SUPER excited.

Your patio is so pretty.  A pool would be so perfect back there! But speaking of not-so-perfect, how about that purple bedroom? It’s completely out of jive with the rest of the house! Is it buried under primer yet?


OMG that bedroom!  It’s hard to tell from the photos, but that was actually purple-on-purple sponge paint.  It was actually very well done.  But yes, that whole room is primed and ready for a complete transformation.  I’ll give you an exclusive scoop — we’re doing it in a grass cloth wallpaper Jack found at Sherwin Williams that is absolutely beautiful.  It’s going to be a totally different room when we’re done!

I’ll be following along on your blog and can’t wait to see! What is your favorite room in the entire house and why?

I’d have to say the den (or as we’ve been calling it, the rumpus room).  It’s just stunning — high decorative ceilings, glossy wood paneling, an entire wall of windows that look out onto the patio, and another wall of built-in cabinets that contain a bar and a hi-fi (that broadcasts on speakers throughout the house).  I think we’re going to spend most of our waking hours in that room!


I imagine so! I love that you guys call it “The Rumpus Room”. That’s a great old school term! I do have to admit that as an observer, that’s my favorite room too. My second favorite is your wonderful sherbert kitchen. Is the floor sheet linoleum? Tiles? What’s the scoop?

The kitchen floor is amazing up close.  That pattern is actually all separate pieces of linoleum cut and placed together to make a pattern!  The main blocks are glossy cream and gray, and then they’re broken up with flat orange squares and silver metallic skinny lines. It’s a mess right now from so many years of use, so we’re going to take good care in refinishing it.  You have to be careful with linoleum or you can ruin it.


Incredible! That could not have been easy for the installer back in the day! Your kitchen has so many great features. Do the ovens work?

The ovens do work!  Sadly, right now there’s a feature in the bottom oven that has to be fixed — it has little holes to stick in rotisserie skewers (which are still with the house!), but they don’t turn when you turn the oven on.  Jack’s going to work on that at some point.  And the stove needs some sprucing up too, we had to install a valve for the gas line because the pilot lights were burning an insane amount of gas.  So much money being wasted!  And one of the burners isn’t working.  So that’s on our list of repairs too.


So, as you can tell, this home is being restored with not only a ton of elbow grease but also with a lot of love! I appreciate Jenn for taking the time to invite us in for a little tour of their new home and a chat about the processes so far. Let’s make sure to follow midmodlife and cheer them on as they make this house their home! I know that I speak for all of us when I say that there is likely a reason that they were the first people allowed to see this home.  I’m sure that they’ll do it very, very proud!

Thanks to Jenn and Jack for letting me borrow some of their blog photos and to listing agent Robin Gordon   for the photos from the home’s original real estate posting. Join us next Sunday when we’ll tour another great time capsule home!

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12 Responses to Won’t You Be My Neighbor – An Update On One Of Our Favorites!

  1. Melinda Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 7:38 am

    This makes me so happy! This is one of my favorite houses you’ve featured. I’m so glad it’s going to be kept true to the period. I’m looking forward to following along on their blog.

  2. Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I knew from the thumbnail that this was the house near Philly since I’m in PA myself and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that someone who “Gets It” is now the owner of this magnificent house! Thanks for the link to their blog – heading over there in a sec – and for the Good News Post!


    Mod B

  3. Denise Smith Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I wanted to let Jenn know, we recently purchased a Enerzen Ozone Generator to remove the mildew spell in our house after a plumbing mishap. It worked great, it is a new technology that neutralizes the smell. You would have to do a room at a time but it is well worth it, you can also put it in the duct work to rid the smell in the furnace. I highly recommend it, it was on sale through amazon recently.

    Love the house, is on the top of my list for the Best MCM I seen. I been looking at them for years. Keep up the good work and you are very lucky to be surround by such art and craftsmanship.

  4. Barbara Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I’d love to know the final sale price! That house was a premium house when it was built! It was probably the talk of the neighborhood. Warming drawers, custom tile, linoleum and built-ins…I’m so happy they aren’t tearing stuff out. To get that kind of perfection today would cost so much! Great job, Eartha!

  5. divajean Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    So happy that an appreciative couple found this lovely home!

  6. Michelle K. Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    This house is seriously amazing. So glad it found the right owners to love it and preserve it! 🙂

  7. Pamela H. Reply

    November 3, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I hope they enjoy this home for many happy years! Best of luck to them!

  8. Jenn Reply

    November 3, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Thanks everyone for the well-wishes, and to Eartha for the fun interview! It’s been so much fun to share the ups and downs we’re experiencing as we try to do right by this house. And Denise, thanks for the recommendation, we’ll definitely look into that for our duct work! 🙂

  9. tammyCA Reply

    November 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Neat! I remember the original post on this house & that terrific “rumpus room”…haven’t heard that term in years 🙂 – will be checking out the blog to follow their progress. So great the right people got it.. I’m sure this gem is gonna look even more amazing & refreshed from their hard work & love.

  10. Sevina Reply

    November 4, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I LOVED reading this update. Thanks so much to both of you for sharing with us readers. I wish Jenn and Jack the best and am looking forward to following their house restoration adventures on Midmodlife!

  11. Scott Reply

    March 12, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Great house restoration. I really like the outdoor area that makes it a typical Pennsylvania house. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Sarah Overs Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I have the same wall oven only single my only problem with it is cleaning the glass the porcelain cleans like new but even though original owners did not use it much it gets dirty after the first use any hints?

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