Tiffany Fasone jokes that she didn’t get the job, but she and her husband, Gabriele Bossi, got the house.
Last year, Fasone, owner of Voila Design Home, a home staging and interior design firm, was asked for a quote to stage a brick townhouse. The 19th-century house, which was a short walk from Rittenhouse Square, had fallen on hard times, but Fasone immediately fell for it.
“The thought of bringing this old house to a new splendor was very appealing,” says Fasone, who asked the sellers to let her know when it was listed. They did, and in December 2016, Fasone, 40, and Bossi, 36, acquired the four-story property.
Fasone knows a little bit about style. Her firm redesigns and stages about 400 properties a year in the tristate area for Realtors, developers, and private homeowners.
Though the home had grand spaces, with 12- and 13-foot ceilings, eight-panel doors, and ornate moldings, some rooms were underused and gloomy. The house also had a 1970s vibe, with aqua carpeting in some rooms and avocado cabinets in the kitchen. Plus, it needed all new electric, plumbing, HVAC systems, and energy-efficient windows.
Lucky for them, the construction workers completed the majority of the renovations to the 4,200-square-foot house within eight months, bestowing upon this old grand dame a new modern attitude.
The large windows, neutral furniture, and vintage accessories are some of Bossi’s favorite features about the formal living room.
“I often find myself reading a book or chatting with friends in here,” says Bossi, who grew up near Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. He is a finance manager with Amazon and met Fasone, a native of South Philadelphia, when he moved to the area for work. They married in 2013.
One side of the space has velvet love seats from Anthropologie and a marble-and-metal coffee table. The far end has wing chairs from Four Hands.
Cowhide rugs, a handsome mid-century credenza, and an artichoke lamp add interest. Pictures of nudes and women’s faces float on the walls. Most light fixtures in the home are from either Restoration Hardware or Visual Comfort in New York, where the starburst chandelier was found.
The room also boasts an original fireplace with a white wooden mantle. (The home has three additional fireplaces. All were converted to gas.)
On the first three levels, the house’s original pine flooring was switched out for a finer grain of birch.
To make room for a two-car garage being built, six feet was chopped off the back of the kitchen, yet the room, which dazzles in glamour, is still expansive enough for a large island and a dining table and chairs from Restoration Hardware. Walls are lined with navy Main Line Custom Cabinetry; appliances are Sub-Zero and Wolf; countertops are super white quartzite; and backsplashes are Dolomite marble.
Original to the room are windows with beautiful casings that overlook the side yard, as well as a fireplace that was found concealed behind plaster.
The flow from one level to another is easy. On the second-floor landing, nine black-and-white photographs of Fasone’s mother, Patricia, in various dance poses, line the wall.
The TV room has a splashy built-in bar with a mirrored backsplash and comfy furniture. New doors will lead to the terrace, which will sit atop the garage and have a garden to grow herbs for the couple’s many Italian dishes.
Up five steps (each of the upper floors is split into two levels) is the master bedroom, decorated with neutral elements that stand up to the high ceilings.
“The layout was a challenge,” Fasone says. A portion of the room was sacrificed for the walk-in closet and master bath, which has one-inch Carrara floor tiles, a two-person walk-in shower with two brass shower heads, and a claw-foot tub found on Craigslist. (Vintage tubs also occupy the three other full-sized bathrooms.)
The third level has a one-bedroom apartment, which is fun and lively. The living space has a dark-gray leather sofa, low-slung chairs, and a black-and-white photograph of a James Dean look-alike, brandishing a cigarette. A teal Smeg refrigerator adds a pop of color to the all-white kitchen.
Another link to the past is the red-brick wall and fireplace in Fasone’s office, also found behind plaster.
Two more bedrooms and a bath occupy the fourth floor.
Bossi says leaving an Italian town of 1,200 people to live in one of the largest U.S. cities was quite an adjustment. But “I find Philadelphia to be a very livable city. … I am pretty sure we will be here for the long run.”