The stately historic Fairmount rowhouse, built about 1860, was the perfect fit for Heidi Siegel and Frank Van Lint’s blended family. The couple were drawn to the house’s strong bones and had a vision for updating its style and function to fit their lifestyle.
“It’s a nice mix of traditional, where we kept a lot of the old features but did a massive update for modernization and sustainability,” said Siegel, 48, who, with Van Lint, purchased the home in 2011. At the time, he was living in the Netherlands, while she was in another home nearby.
They were instantly drawn to the double lot. On one side sits the approximately 3,600-square-foot house, and on the other, a huge lawn, garden, deck, fire pit, storage shed and on-site parking. “That’s very unusual in the city,” she pointed out.
That open space allowed them to drill three geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Using sustainable materials was a priority, so they added solar panels to the roof and a solar hot-water heater, and installed cork floors and concrete countertops in the kitchen, and insulation made from recycled denim throughout the house.
“When they took the materials out of the house, a lot went to places like ReStore for upcycling, when possible,” said Siegel, who works in media public relations.
With the help of Amy Cuker, owner of Down2Earth Interior Design, they found a way to couple new with old, including the furniture they owned and their expansive art collection.
“Amy put together these images of a room that included style and color scheme,” said Siegel, who doesn’t recall how she ended up with red couches but appreciates how well they work. “A lot of the colors we picked for our walls were more of a blank canvas, and that way the artwork we hung up would be featured.”
The couple carefully planned how to showcase their collection of paintings, from artists including Shepard Fairey (who created the Obama Hope print), Dutch-Indonesian painter Jan Toorop, and painter Tom Walton, who recently relocated from Philadelphia to New Orleans. Stunning sculptures created by Van Lint’s mother, Riky Van Lint-Rozendal, a well-known sculptor in the Netherlands, fit seamlessly throughout the home.
One of the family’s favorite hangout spots is the large living room, featuring the original chandelier, intricate moldings on the 11-foot ceiling, and solid wooden doors. Cozy couches and chairs invite the family to read and enjoy their computers and tablets there.
The couple enjoy entertaining, recently hosting a fund-raising event for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.). They invite about 70 friends and family every other year for their traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. In warmer weather, they spend as much time as possible in their outdoor space.
Many original features remain in the home, including the wooden floors, a claw-foot tub, and a sink that originally had separate hot and cold water faucets. All sit seamlessly alongside the renovations, where moved walls and reconfigured space have created five bedrooms, two offices, and 4½ bathrooms — enough space for their blended brood: Siegel’s 14-year-old daughter, Francesca Ingargiola, and her 18-year-old son, Dante Ingargiola, who returns on college breaks, and Van Lint’s three children, all in their 20s, who visit occasionally from the Netherlands.
The pair’s story began in 2009 when Van Lint was attending an international meeting in Philadelphia for private equity investors. Joining colleagues for a nightcap at a Center City nightclub, he remembers looking up as Siegel and a girlfriend entered the club.
“It was love at first sight,” said Van Lint, 56.
After spending most of the night talking about their lives, kids and passions, they started a long-distance relationship.
“We had our first date in London because I was on a business trip there,” Siegel recalled. Then Van Lint came back to the United States for a course at Wharton, "so that was our second date.”
They married at the Fairmount Water Works in 2014, with all of their children in attendance. Van Lint is now preparing for his citizenship test.
“I made a choice to move to the U.S., to marry here, settle down, and build up a business,” said Van Lint, who runs a private equity investment company. “My future is here and part of that is becoming an American.”
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