When she moved to her first apartment, Sherri Theodore says, she already had a folder with pictures of furnishings she hoped to own one day. The images, clipped from Architectural Digest magazine, included a zebra rug.
It took 25 years, but a decade ago Sherri got her rug, for the living room of the Ardmore condo she shares with husband Chris.
Sherri's friend Diane Saul, an interior designer, found the rug. No endangered species were harmed in its acquisition — instead, cowhide was stenciled with a zebra pattern. Saul also had a tufted taupe velvet ottoman made for them, and French chairs from Sherri's aunt were upholstered in a taupe fabric.
Black pillows on the white sofa have a sparkling metallic thread. More shimmer comes from a black-and-gold Venetian screen behind the sofa — Sherri found it in a storage area at her workplace. (For 34 years, until retiring three years ago, she was a bookkeeper for a lighting company in Philadelphia.)
Sherri, 62, grew up in Havertown and graduated from Haverford High School. Chris, 55, was raised in Wynnefield Heights and graduated from Lamberton High School. The couple, who met at the Jersey Shore, have been married 23 years.
Chris is a physical-education teacher at Meredith School in Queen Village and teaches yoga in the evenings. This summer, he will be a yoga teacher at a summer camp and will offer lessons in graffiti-style art, harking back to an occasionally rebellious youth.
In the Theodores' foyer hangs a photo of Chris as a teenager, spray-painting an ad inside a Market-Frankford El car. A camera-bug friend who shot the black-and-white photo recently gave it to Sherri and Chris, who had the paint spray photo-shopped red.
The photograph complements pop art and 1970s memorabilia in the condo. Over the bed in the master bedroom is a John Lennon/Yoko Ono "Bed-In for Peace" print.
An Andy Warhol Chanel No. 5 poster hangs in the master bathroom; his Marilyn Monroe poster is in the second bathroom, and his Mick Jagger poster is downstairs in the dining room. In the upstairs den hangs a signed 45-rpm record of Lennon's "Mind Games" from 1973.
The most eye-catching features there, though, are the 535 Pez dispensers lined up like dominoes on the molding surrounding the ceiling: cartoon-character dispensers; Disney Princess dispensers; Phillies and Flyers dispensers; superhero dispensers; and a Mickey Mouse dispenser from the 1950s.
"When we were engaged," Chris says, "Sherri complained I played basketball too much. I told her she needed a hobby." Sherri began buying Pez dispensers from garage sales and flea markets. Chris quickly caught the bug. Friends often gift the couple with special dispensers such as the Pezuzah, a Batman Pez that, like a traditional mezuzah, contains a tiny scroll inscribed with verses from the Torah.
The Pezuzah is attached to the frame of the sliding-glass door to the deck, which at this time of year gets plenty of use. Chris insists, however, that he would shovel a path through snow to reach his beloved barbecue grill.
The couple added the deck a few years ago. When they moved to the condo in 2003, "the place was a mess," Sherri says.
Out came stained white carpet, replaced by hardwood on the first floor and carpeting elsewhere. Sherri says her mother/shopping companion, Evelyn Kremer, thinks the patterned staircase carpeting "looks like a Louis Vuitton bag. "In the stairwell hangs a filmy white sari edged in shimmering silver that Sherri purchased from Material Culture in Philadelphia. Most furnishings came from local stores, including HomeGoods and Pottery Barn.
Benjamin Moore's "Raleigh Tan" was used for walls in the living and dining rooms.
The Theodores painted wood-stained kitchen cabinets white and added stainless pulls. Black granite countertops were installed. Sherri designed the white-and-gray tile backsplash. Instead of a Warhol Campbell's Soup poster, a red-and-white Campbell's Soup patterned crock for utensils adds color.
As a backdrop for the kitchen seating area, Saul had an artist stencil black designs on a white wall, inspired by one of Sherri's magazine clippings.
On the patio by the front door, two metal frogs in yoga poses watch over a stone inscribed "Imagine."