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With Two Kids in Tow, Couple Keeps Fitler Square Home Clean & Simple

This house tour of a renovated rowhome is a minimalist's delight

This Fitler Square rowhome underwent significant kitchen and bathroom renovations.
This Fitler Square rowhome underwent significant kitchen and bathroom renovations.
Photographs by Chloe Berk

In what may sound like a nightmare to most folks, New York City transplants Jonathan Hudson and Joanne Jordan decided to take on a home renovation. With Jonathan's mother. While Joanne was pregnant with their first child.

Lucky for the couple, "It wasn't that bad, actually," said Joanne. "We're pretty like-minded when it comes to our styles."

"Minimal," Jonathan explains.

"And clean lines," Joanne adds.

It helps that his mother is a designer, and does renovations for a living. Still, when the couple bought their 1,200-square-foot Fitler Square home, they knew they had their work cut out for them, beginning with the kitchen. In order for Joanne, a former chef, to have her dream kitchen, they had to remove a brick wall and door that separated it from the living area.

Now, it's become their favorite spot in the house, which was built in 1920. Designed to maximize space and storage, the rolling counter top can be moved around the space when they have guests. They did, however, have to sacrifice the two double doors that open to the back patio for extra counter space.

Joanne says that despite their two kids, now 8 and 4, it hasn't been hard to keep the kitchen and overall house tidy. "It's hard to believe, but that white kitchen with two kids is not that hard to keep clean," she says.

Given the spacial issues—there's no designated playroom—Joanne and Johnathan have found certain areas in the house where the kids can have fun. One wall, in the kitchen, is covered with dry erase paint so that they can color on the walls. And they  often ride their scooters from the living room to the kitchen.

Says Joanne, "We do feel bad that they don't have outdoor space. But living in the city all their lives, they don't really know what it's like to have a backyard, anyway."

"Our son just loves going to the museums," adds Johnathan. "On Saturdays, when we ask what he want to do on he says he wants to go to the art museum."

Photos of their wedding, travels, and family—most taken by Jonathan, a graphic designer—line the wall leading to the second level. Says Joanne, "We first had this idea that we'd constantly rotate out photos for this gallery wall. Yeah, that didn't happen," she says with a laugh.

To accommodate the awkward space between the fireplace and the windows, they installed shelves for both books and toys. There's also a tiny sensor built into the wall for the TV.

On the second level, they converted the third bedroom into a home office, where Joanne and her colleague used to work. When their parents are in town, the office doubles as a guest room.

The kids share a bedroom across the hall. "We haven't thought that far ahead yet, but when our daughter is big enough, we'll probably have real bunk beds for the two of them," says Joanne.

The third floor of the home features the master bedroom, a second renovated bathroom, and a roof deck. Says Joanne of the roof deck, "We had big plans to host a lot of fun, al fresco parties up here. But in reality, without a wet bar or mini-fridge here, we never want to walk up and down three flights of stairs each time to bring a bowl of chips up here." Instead, it's become an urban garden for the kids, who harvest their own vegetables when the season's right.

The couple has lived in the home for close to eight years now, and have seen neighbors come and go. But despite the ever-changing neighborhood and all of the construction—the luxury high-rise One Riverside Condominiums are going up down the street—Joanne and Johnathan say they're staying put. Says Jonathan, "I think this neighborhood is just getting better and better."

House Calls is a recurring feature in which Curbed tours Philadelphians' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us at