Paige and Ray Jaffe had three requirements when buying a house in June 2016: three bedrooms, a good school system, and a garage. They got all three with their 2,200-square-foot home between Fitler and Rittenhouse Squares in Philadelphia's Greenfield School catchment.
"We bought our first house when it was just Ray and me," Paige, 34, recalled of their starter home nearby. "As we started to grow, we needed space."
Their children — Max, 2, and Noa, 8 months — have their own bedrooms with a shared bathroom on the second floor of the three-story townhouse. Max's teal, black, and gray room is a mix of sports and animal themes, highlighted by an animal-print tepee. Noa's pink and purple room is accented in gray and white and features unicorns and her name displayed in Swarovski crystals. The master suite on the third floor includes a large walk-in closet and en suite bathroom.
"It's nice because the kids have their own space, and Ray and I have our own floor," Paige said. "So even if we have guests, it's separate and there's privacy."
The Jaffes like their location amid the city's hustle and bustle but also appreciate their peaceful, narrow side street. Barely wide enough for a car to drive down, it offers a safe space for the kids to play.
But the home, built in the 1980s, was dated and unwieldy, most notably the enclosed galley kitchen.
"We wanted open space, so if I was cooking dinner, I could see the kids playing, and a space where everyone could be mingling, talking, and hanging out in one area," said Paige, who also wanted a modern look with bright accent colors.
With the help of interior designer Michele Plachter and J.Thom kitchen remodelers, the Jaffes remodeled the entire downstairs, about 400 square feet for the kitchen, dining room, and living room. They maximized the space by removing the interior kitchen wall, moving plumbing and exhaust pipes, and building an entirely new kitchen. Adding pull-out kitchen cabinets provided more storage space and a built-in mini bar — Ray's favorite spot in the house, he said, laughing — all equipped with child locks. A large cushy bench bolted into the front wall provides seating for the dining room table while serving double duty as a storage unit.
Although they allowed several months for renovations before moving in, the contractor suddenly left the country in the middle of the project. "We were on a very strict timeline because we sold our other house and had to be out of it," Paige recalled. "We couldn't live in a construction zone with a baby."
Fortunately, they found another contractor, who finished the job quickly.
Paige credits Plachter with choosing the bright accent colors to complement the mostly gray and white color scheme throughout the downstairs.
"We were bold — not many people would pick a teal sofa," Paige said. "It is a smaller space so we wanted to make sure certain things popped, like the matching teal front door."
And it's all kid-friendly. "Every single thing you see in this house can be wiped down," Paige said, including the white patterned sofa, white chairs, and colorful pillows. "For someone with two little kids, that's huge. You can imagine at dinnertime there's spaghetti sauce and meatballs everywhere."
Among Paige's favorite touches are two modern, glass light fixtures, one over the dining room table and the other in the first-floor powder room. "The plumbing fixtures were all dated, so by bringing in fun wallpaper and putting the light fixture up, it changed the entire bathroom dramatically," she said. "If we have guests, everyone is downstairs, so it was an integral part of what was going on."
The couple, who married in 2013, met through mutual friends while watching the Flyers compete for the Stanley Cup at the Public House sports bar in 2010. "We've been together ever since," Paige said. "There was an instant attraction. We grew up with similar values."
One of those values is the importance of family, with both extended families in nearby Bucks County. "Now we have room to have everyone over for holidays," said Ray, 35.
Both work out of the house — Paige as a commercial real estate broker and Ray as a clinical consultant pharmacist. Their nanny, Peta, often hosts other caregivers and their young charges.
When not riding scooters out front, the kids and their friends enjoy the water table in the small fenced-in backyard, while the adults watch from comfy couches. "Everyone comes over," chimed in Max.
Having outgrown their last house — especially the two-seater kitchen table — the couple looks forward to watching their kids grow in this one.
"It's informal, comfortable, people can sit wherever, and nobody feels they didn't get a spot at the table," Paige said. "Everyone's in the room together, and that's very important."