The Foxwells’ three-story rowhouse in Fishtown is filled with color — yellow throwback Big Chill appliances amid blue-green cabinets, multicolored individually decorated stair risers and whimsical artwork throughout the house.
It was the spec house’s new, clean white walls that first sold them on the property in 2012. “A blank slate that felt like we could make it our own,” recalled Anessa Foxwell, 35, who loves to paint and find creative, fun ways to decorate.
The couple’s decorating goal was to “make the eye wander and see something interesting and different,” she said. “Friends will come over and try to count all the foxes” — a play on their last name. Foxes adorn hardware pulls, pillows, figurines, glassware, and artwork throughout the home.
Seven years and three kids — Lady, 5, Wally, 3 and Duffy, 1 — later, the 1,800-square-foot house, with three bedrooms, 2½ baths, a large roof deck, and small outdoor space, is all about family.
Their favorite spot is the basement’s tricked-out playroom, featuring a two-story fort and plastic slide. They’ve maximized the roughly 600-square-foot space to include a cozy library, a place to hang out and watch TV, and a hidden storage area. A half-dozen vintage suitcases, all having belonged to a family member at some time, serve as decoration, but also reminders of times and trips gone by.
When they aren’t in the basement, the family is likely spending time in “the kitchen of our dreams,” completely renovated last year with the help of Kenny Grono of Buckminster Green in Philadelphia.
“I wanted to open up the space,” said Anessa, a nurse practitioner at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “We had a peninsula, and when there were people over, it would cut everything off, so it felt crowded.”
Anessa scoured such sites as Houzz and HGTV to find ideas, such as the fish-scale backsplash that’s an homage to Fishtown. She chose her appliances because yellow is her favorite color.
“She picks colors based on their names,” teased Taylor, 36, a stay-at-home dad. The custom cabinets are painted “Kensington Green,” and the accent wall color is “Perfection.” She interspersed a couple of brown cabinet doors “to give it some fun pop,” Anessa said.
The family enjoys entertaining, and the kitchen renovation opened space for their gorgeous antique wooden table and buffet that originally belonged to Taylor’s great-grandfather and are probably 100 years old. The table expands to seat the 14 guests who come for their Christmas Eve Seven Fishes dinner.
“We also host Thanksgiving dinner and various birthday parties,” added Taylor, who credited his wife with doing most of the cooking.
Behind the kitchen, a small fenced-in backyard features a patio, grill and herb garden. It also stores the kids’ bikes and scooters, which they enjoy taking to an adjacent lot to ride with their neighbors.
Up a long flight of stairs to the second floor are the kids’ bedrooms and bathroom. The boys’ shared room features Wally’s custom bed, built high enough off the ground to include a slide to come down. Lady’s bedroom features a yellow bed and a colorful wall with triangles. That’s Taylor’s favorite spot in the house — “it makes me smile every time I see it,” he said.
One more flight up is the master bedroom, bathroom, laundry and a sitting area/office. A stunning antique upholstered settee, which matches their kitchen furniture, sits at the top of the stairs.
The walls are filled with artwork, a mix of paintings, kids’ handiwork, and quirky figurines, including several Horrible Adorables, cartoonish hybrid creatures from an imaginary world. One wall features a montage of black-and-white photos from their wedding and portraits of the kids.
One more flight up — there are more than 40 steps in all — is the roof deck, with colorful Adirondack chairs, comfy cushions and rugs. The 360-degree view includes the stained-glass windows from the old St. Mary’s Hospital.
The couple met in 2008 at a bar called Duffy’s in Chicago, where they both lived at the time.
“I was in nursing school, and Taylor was working at the bar,” Anessa recalled. “The ’80s cover band the Spazmatics was playing, and I picked him up!”
Having grown up in Delaware County, Anessa wanted to come back to Philly, and Taylor joined her. They married in 2011 at St. Dorothy’s Church in Drexel Hill.
Now settled in Fishtown, the Foxwells feel content.
“I love all the new things that are happening, new restaurants and stores and walking to the grocery store,” she said. “I love the accessibility of being in the city.”
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