When Sam and Denise Silvers decided to move from Lafayette Hill to Center City last year, they weren’t looking to downsize. Their goal was to find the perfect home and neighborhood where their family could transition to city living.
“You always worry about selling the kids’ childhood home, where we raised them from when they were little, and that was a really stressful decision,” Denise, 54, recalled. Her children are Jake, 25, Emma, 22, and Max, 21. “I wanted this to feel like it was their home, and they weren’t coming to their parents’ home.”
So they set out to find the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood.
“We wanted to be in the core of Center City, and we particularly liked Washington Square West,” said Sam, 55, a management consultant. “We really like that within the city, we are central and can walk everywhere.”
“Unless I’m wearing heels,” joked Denise, who also appreciated the area’s neighborhood feel, with townhouses rather than high-rise buildings.
Originally a 19th-century home, the townhouse that appealed to them had previously been converted to a doctor’s office and then back again to a home, down to its original studs.
“The builder kept a lot of the original design,” Sam said. “It’s a brand-new house that was built in 1899, with full staircases, full windowsills, and trim that you just don’t get in newer homes.”
“There are a lot of windows, and it’s very bright and cheery,” added Denise, director of programming for the Daniel B. Allanoff Foundation, which raises money for blood cancer research.
The 5,500-square-foot house is wider than the average rowhouse and boasts 12½- and 10-foot ceilings and seven fireplaces. It features four bedrooms (one outfitted with a Peloton and other gym equipment), living room, dining room, large office, 4½ bathrooms, and a basement outfitted as a media/family room with a caterer’s kitchen. Then there is the master closet/dressing room — about 300 square feet filling the entire top floor. Outdoor spaces include a deck, a patio, a green roof, and a garage.
With the help of designer Rhonda Sacks, Denise decorated the home in white and bluish-gray hues, taking care to honor its history while creating a contemporary style. “It feels warm and elegant, useful but not fussy,” Denise said.
The home is a gathering place for the family, who enjoy entertaining in the downstairs media room, especially for Eagles and Sixers games. Floating shelves are attached to a stunning quartz slab above the bar, surrounded by refrigerator/freezer drawers, an ice maker, and wine refrigerator.
The adjacent caterer’s kitchen makes it easy to entertain. “I love to cook, and I needed an extra oven, refrigerator, and freezer when I have company during the holidays,” Denise said.
The living room is one of Denise’s favorites. Awash in sunlight, it features a baby grand piano, which several family members play. “I’ll be cooking and my son Jake will be playing,” Denise said. “It’s reminiscent of their childhood with music in the house.”
While there isn’t an elevator, they view the home’s 78 steps as forced exercise. “We’re still young enough to enjoy them, but at some point, that might be the reason we’ll have to leave,” Sam said. Denise views the steps as mental exercise, forcing her to remember what she needs so she won’t have to run all the way back up or down to retrieve something.
The couple enjoy spending time outdoors, either on the deck off one of the bedrooms with a sunny southern exposure, or on the patio designed by Urban Jungle, with comfortable white couches and an abundance of green plants and flowers.
“We wanted to make a Zen-like, calm space,” said Denise, who delights in having lunch, reading a book, or enjoying happy hour with friends on the patio.
Most important, the Silvers feel they have achieved their goal of creating a smooth transition to city living in a house their kids consider home. “They didn’t even blink about leaving that home,” Denise said. “They want to invite their friends here and are so happy to be in the city.”
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