living room floor plan layout
The main floor layout is pretty intuitive: From the front entry, a left takes you to the dining room and kitchen, while opposite the closet and striped rug are stairs up and down to bedrooms and baths. Two vintage George Nelson Pedestal side tables and a reissued Saarinen coffee table on a handwoven area rug surround the Bantam sofa. The black & white chair is vintage, while the Eames cowhide molded plywood lounge chair is new. Primary colors found in the four Alexander Calder prints and eBay mobile were repeated elsewhere in the room.

After finding his dream midcentury home that was fairly turnkey (part 1), only cosmetic features — painting, furnishings, light fixtures and gardening — received a touch of change (part 2) from Craig Wakefield, Philadelphia’s trusted midcentury realtor. Wakefield was satisfied, for the most part. For the next step, he had to break some design rules.

The living room is a little small for two separate furniture groupings, and the couple like the spareness and circulation space that their edited number of pieces offer. Wakefield’s vintage desk sits next to the fireplace, rather than the couch, which instead looks out to the deck and garden. The Jacobsen Egg chair and a vintage maybe-Wegner wing chair form a conversational grouping by the windows.

tongue and groove paneling over fireplace
The tongue-and-groove paneling, Shaker-like built-ins and fireplace surround are all original. Wakefield uses the vintage desk and Eames Soft Pad Management chair on a daily basis, surrounded by generic midcentury decorative items and a painting on etched glass of his own over the fireplace.

Furthering the cosmetic-improvements-only theme, Wakefield added perennials to the foundation plantings and nurtured the front yard’s moss for a relatively low-maintenance landscape. “When I moved in, it was 50/50 grass and moss, and I made a decision on which way to go,” he says. “Moss is definitely native to our front yard, and it’s taken years, but I’ve worked hard to make it a solid moss bed—I hand weed it in the spring.”

The most noticeable change that the pair made was to the street facade. “I really struggled with the garage door. I love my house, but I think the front isn’t as fun as the rest, and I wanted to liven it up,” Wakefield explains. “But being a purist, it was hard for me to change out the original four-panel wood door. I debated if I’d be hurting my house to put in a modern garage door, but now I think it added to the look of the front.

“I bought this house before knowing about some of the other modernist Philly houses, and we have the ability to move. But as all of these great ones come on the market, I’m not tempted. I still love my house.”