Contemporary on the inside

re1haven01
Andrea Monroe and her husband, Craig Green, show off the kitchen/dining area of their condo in the Lenox building.

The 100-year-old Lenox building in Washington Square West is traditional, to say the least. Stately, you might say.

You might also think the home of two young law professors there would be a bit stodgy. You'd need to think again.

Step out onto the appropriate floor, walk down a floral-wallpapered hall and into Andrea Monroe and Craig Green's condominium. Your second impression proves the true one: Theirs is a contemporary take on design, with furnishings that are modern, newly configured spaces that have been updated to suit the couple's needs, and some walls painted a soft, tasteful orange.

Neither she nor Craig attended Syracuse or Tennessee and claim orange as their college color, Andrea says - they just like it. The couple teach at Temple University's Beasley School of Law. Her subject is federal income tax law; his is constitutional law.

Walls are about 10 feet high in this bright condo, which has two tall bay windows in the living room. Photos framed in black, taken by Craig's sister Paige, a California photographer, are hung throughout the home.

Craig says he bought the 1,200-square-foot unit because the building was accessible to Temple and it had great vistas.

"I loved the views," he says. "I looked around at a lot of other places and found this, which was the top of what I could afford, but what sold me was that when you look south you can see the sports stadium, when you look east you can see the Delaware River and Independence Hall."

Says Andrea: "Craig lived here about 11 years, I have been here about seven, and a few years ago we learned that we could have a laundry in our apartment. The whole renovation happened after that.

"Believe it or not, I am obsessed with laundry, I find it relaxing," Andrea says. "I was used to going to a basement or another building to do wash, and this is the first time I have had my own."

In making room for a laundry area, the couple realized, they also got the chance to change a lot of other things.

Such as the fact that they had only one door to the bathroom, forcing guests to go through their bedroom. And the fact that the kitchen and dining room were tiny, relics of the building interior's 100-year-old design.

Through a neighbor, Andrea and Craig learned about Philadelphia architect Anthony Miksitz, who specializes in small spaces.

"I love Tony," Andrea says. "We started by asking him to put in the washer and dryer, and it led to a massive overhaul."

The job included removing walls and creating new spaces, Miksitz says.

"When I saw the place, I saw what could be done," he says. "The couple had a huge bedroom with their bed pushed against the fireplace, because that was the only place it could be put."

All the other bedroom walls were in use, he notes: One had a large bay window; another, the door to the bathroom; the third, a small office space with no room for the bed; and the fourth, the fireplace.

The kitchen and dining room were small spaces off a hall leading from the entrance. On the other hand, the living room was massive, though there was only a tiny closet for coats.

Miksitz's redesign removed the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and the partition at the living room.

He moved a living room wall five feet forward to create room for the laundry and a coat closet. The bathroom was enlarged, and a door was added that opens to the hall.

To the back of the bedroom, an opening was cut into the wall, to add light. The space behind it became the office, creating in front of the wall - finally - a place for the couple's bed that also offered a view of the fireplace.

Above the mantel hangs the couple's favorite photograph, by Green's sister - an image of a clothesline full of dresses beside a huge shade tree.

"The transformation is amazing," Craig says of the renovation's results. "We now have a sleeper couch in the spot that used to be the middle of the living room and usable space instead of massive rooms. It is a whole new day."

Is Your House a Haven? Tell us about your haven by email (and send some digital photographs) at properties@phillynews.com.

Real Estate Tools
Looking for a new home? Search Philadelphia real estate »
Browse Recent Home Sales »
Compare Philadelphia mortgage rates »