On a bordering lane a stone’s throw (literally) from her front yard, Kling had admired the good bones of the A-frame cottage each time she walked by. But the 1920s-era structure was in need of considerable work. And she wasn’t up to the task of a major rehab again, having overhauled three other houses.
“But then a family member [of the owner at that time] put the new siding on the house, and he started renovating the inside,” she says, happily freeing her from the dirty work.
Kling, a transplant from Sandusky, Ohio, had made good friends in the wooded community and enjoyed its close proximity to Philadelphia’s restaurants and cultural world. So this quaint dwelling seemed like the perfect mix of smaller quarters and being able to stay in the neighborhood she loved.
In another life, Kling, 60, worked as a graphic designer in Manhattan for 12 years after graduating from Skidmore College with an art degree. Technology replaced humans, and Kling left the industry.
These days, she is an investor-relations manager for a private-equity firm in Center City. As a side endeavor, Kling, along with her creative partner, Jim Primerano, 56, began designing industrial art last year. They sandblast, weld and retrofit heaps of historical artifacts and rustic objects into lamps and lanterns, showcasing their creations through PunkJunk Designs.
Her house — a mere 1,000 square feet — was built by a Quaker contractor who was green before the movement started. “The four major timbers holding the house up were scavenged from a chicken coop,” Kling says.
The snug-yet-sophisticated living room sets the scene for the home’s country style, beginning with its tufted sofa. Walls are decorated with paintings of old maps and woodland birds. Red bricks surround the wood-burning fireplace.
On an old shoeshine box now used as an end table sits a lamp fashioned from a rusted oil can, with a retro metal cup topping it off as a shade. Between two reupholstered chairs is a lantern created from trashed machine gears. Another lamp uses a mid-century gas-pump handle to control the on/off switch.
A second end table is a stripped-down, oil-stained seat from an old sleigh retrieved from a thrift store during a Maine vacation.
The enclosed back porch — “the only real money I’ve spent”, Kling says — was added the year after she moved in. Unmatched benches, found at New Jersey flea markets, provide seating. More of her art, patinated metal structures of dragonflies and turkeys, lines the floorboards.
During the makeover, the kitchen was opened up, and all white appliances, cabinets and tiles were installed, peacefully coexisting to offer a functional space.
Four Windsor chairs share the pine dining room table, distressed to lend an aged appearance. A wooden chandelier was rescued at a market in New Orleans.
“This is my favorite lamp,” Kling says of “little man,” which casts a glow from a side buffet table. The black metal lantern is welded onto a lead smelting pot, with tubing and a dome that resembles a stovepipe hat.
In both the kitchen and dining room, wooden blackbirds and roosters perch proudly on shelves. Original oak flooring complements each room throughout the house.
The master bedroom exudes a relaxed and comfy feeling, with soft draperies and quilts. A wall-mounted curio boasts Kling’s assemblage of bride-and-groom wedding-cake toppers, most picked up from yard sales back when she was a child.
She’s thrifty in almost all her purchases, rarely exceeding $40, she says. “Although, I just made a big buy,” she adds with a laugh, “ ... a $100 white chandelier that I had to have.”
A loft space performs as Kling’s office. There, two vintage theater chairs live out a second act.
Under a charming sloped ceiling is the “bonus room” or media central, where a flat-screen TV and a DVD player share space with two overstuffed chairs and matching ottomans. “I rarely buy new furniture, but I liked the chairs as soon as I saw them,” Kling says.
You could say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Kling’s art-conscious father hand-carved and painted a whimsical Noah’s Ark set that sits on a cabinet.
Ice-blue floor tiles and a new vanity were part of the updates in the cheery bathroom.
“I love my home ... I love my neighborhood,” Kling says. “I intend to be here a long time.”