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Design duo transforms Rittenhouse Square studio into dreamy escape

Take a peek into this studio’s impressive transformation


The design duo that is Jersey Ice Cream Co. is known for leaving homes in much, much better shape than before. Tara Mangini and Percy Bright often literally move into homes to get a feel for the space before working their magic. But things went a little different with a recent Rittenhouse Square studio project.

"For some reason we were in a Philly mood, and this place popped up. And actually, we didn’t even see it for putting an offer in," says Bright.

Some six months later, the Rittenhouse Square studio is basically brand new, transformed into a dreamy oasis. The 410-square-foot space is the smallest Jersey Ice Cream Co. has ever worked on, but it doesn’t feel like a tiny space.

In honor of Micro Week, Curbed Philly caught up with Bright to talk shop and for advice on how to make the most of a small living space.

What did you love about the studio?

It had so many original details, like super high ceilings, and it seemed like it had a lot of good light. We could tell that it was going to be really tiny, but we knew it was going to be more like an AirBnB, or like a hotel room with a kitchenette.

What were you going for when it came to the design and aesthetic of the space?

I’m always so bad at putting labels on things and on our work, but no matter what we always try to design something so that it doesn’t always look the same. Yet, when you see it, it looks like it’s our work. So we were just going for old-world luxury—something that was true to when the property was built.

This is an AirBnb, but obviously you had to make the small space livable. What sort of small-living details did you incorporate into the renovation?

We crammed a lot into the kitchenette to start with. You can easily cook a full meal in there. The appliances are tiny, but are really nice. Then, there were two huge closets on either side of the patio. It was nice having the storage, but they were an eye sore. So we tore those out and that helped open up the room, and we put the built-in sofa there and built some storage underneath. We now have a hanging bar to the side of steps and a couple of drawers underneath as a sort of exposed mini-closet.

Now that you’ve designed your first small space, what sort of advice do you have for people who want to take on tiny living?

You really need to figure out what’s important to you and really go for it. We knew we wanted to have a king-sized bed, and so everything else hinged on that. But I think we were still able to fit so much in there. And I think doing built-ins so important. If it’s going to be small, everything needs to be custom for that specific place. As someone who builds furniture, I feel like that about any piece of furniture. Just because you have this amazing piece that doesn’t mean it can go into any house.