How I’m Decorating My 170 Year Old Home

Words I never thought I would utter out loud – ‘I’m a homeowner.’ Even as I type this and read it back, it’s still kind of hard to believe that I’m talking about myself. I had lived in New York City my entire adult life and rented, as New Yorkers do, so adding ‘homeowner’ to my personal resume never really crossed my mind. husband and I welcomed our first child in 2021 and did what most New Yorkers do when they have children — leave. We quickly learned that kids needed more space than we had. And, if we brought one more Fisher Price activity center through our front door, our apartment would burst at the seams. Since, buying in New York City is not exactly the most financially practical option for most, we looked towards the other east coast city, Philadelphia. We packed up our 1000 sq ft apartment, said goodbye to Brooklyn, and moved to Philadelphia. [My husband is from around the area, so it made sense to move close to family.]

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Here’s our last day as Brooklyn residents. We walked to the Brooklyn Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and had once last look at that gorgeous view.

We purchased a home that is 170 years old – which is crazy to me that I live in a house that was built before the civil war. Although the house has been updated with modern touches throughout its lifetime, it still has tags of maturity which we loved. The hardwood floors, the narrow staircase – we just loved the bones and couldn’t wait to season it with our style.

Here’s the day we moved in!

Because we moved from a small two-bedroom apartment to a 3-story home, we had a lot of space to fill. However, the best advice we received when buying our home was to not rush into decorating. And I wholeheartedly agree. Your taste changes and you don’t want invest a ton of time and energy into decorating to only hate it in a year. So that is exactly what we’re doing. Taking it step x step, room x room.

We decided to start with the living room since that was where we’d spend most of our time. We knew we’d basically need to start from scratch since we out grew our furniture from New York and we wanted to go for a more classic look.

The inspiration behind the decor

The inspiration for this room was really inspired by all things Parisian. Tom and I went to Paris on our honeymoon so it’s a city very close to our heart. Every pin I pinned on my Pinterest page was tagged ‘Paris’ or ‘Parisian Living Room’ so I went full in.

Here are a few images that were key inspiration…

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: One Kings Lane

The key elements to any Parisian living room

The Fireplace Mantel

Even though our new home didn’t technically have a fireplace, who said I couldn’t have a fireplace mantle? We wanted something with character, texture, and with an antique look. We ended up finding one that fit just perfectly — and on Overstock! Guests actually think it is the original fireplace mantle from the 1800s. They’re shocked to hear it came from an Overstock warehouse in Salt Lake City.

The Antique Mirror

No fireplace mantel is complete without a stunning antique mirror ascending above. It was another classic element in all the chic Parisian living rooms I had been eyeing so it was a must have. And, the thing about mirrors is they instantly make any space look bigger. Since we moved into a row home, they are quite narrow, so the mirror really does help it appear larger.

Here’s how it all came together!
Photo credit: Kristin Smith

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Bold Colors

I first found these swivel chairs on Pinterest almost two years ago and haven’t gotten them out of my head since. That’s how I knew I really wanted them. They are nice and deep and so comfortable, and really add a nice pop of color to the space.

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Window Treatment

What I love about a classic traditional Parisian space are the clean finishes. I really wanted to fine crisp fresh linen curtains that felt luxurious, but without the luxe price tag. I cannot say enough about these white linen curtains. They are 100% linen, soft as a feather, and such good quality.

And, I had been eyeing industrial curtain rods that added a pop of gold to complement the linen curtains. The curtain rods look way more expensive than they were (Thanks, Amazon!).

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