A home for both her and the firm

Kathy Cochet in her new kitchen-office. In 2012, she bought the home near Fitler Square, and had it renovated.
Kathy Cochet in her new kitchen-office. In 2012, she bought the home near Fitler Square, and had it renovated. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)

She sold her Haddonfield house and renovated her new one into a residence and an office.

Posted: June 30, 2014

The two friends would sit on the beach in Avalon, watching their children play in the sand and waves, and dream of how one day they would be designers with their own business.

It was only a dream until Kathleen Cochet and Anne Flynn made it a reality in 2009, when they founded a pop-up design firm. One product, vintage-style subway signs printed on high-quality paper, sold like hotcakes - so well, the pair renamed their business MySubwaySign.

But their company needed a home. And, as it came to pass, so did Cochet.

By 2012, she had decided to sell the Haddonfield house in which she and her late husband, Lou, had raised three children, now grown and living their own lives. She wanted to buy in Center City, and she toured a cobblestone street near Fitler Square.

"I noticed a small icon of Mother Mary, which my late mom always revered, behind the front door, and I knew this house was the one," she said.

Cochet's Realtor, Patrick O'Connell of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, thought the 1,110-square-foot Panama Street house, built in 1850, could also serve as a base of operations for the business.

"We needed to use the home as our work space," Cochet said. "The kitchen is our office,"

In late 2012, she bought the property, and a gut renovation commenced that would enable Cochet and Flynn to host their clients in a sleek setting worthy of high design.

In all, she spent about $100,000 on the project, for which she had originally budgeted $50,000.

Her contractor, Steve Routzahn, completed the job in just four months. Jane Good Design decorated the interiors with high-end touches such as Jonathan Adler wallpaper and a pocket door for the upstairs bathroom. Cochet found a restored vintage Baker chest of drawers for $800, a bargain compared with $8,000 new.

To capitalize on the structure's small footprint, they ripped out all barriers, plus a powder room on the first floor, in favor of a new full-length kitchen and living-room space.

Cochet prefers an all-white finished look and had installed a slim Liebherr refrigerator, white Corian countertops, and a Bertazzoni gas range and oven.

She and Flynn meet with clients around a custom-made reclaimed-wood table by John Duffy and seated in ghost chairs. The contractor built in work-related touches, such as cabinets that function as sliding file drawers, where Cochet can store paperwork and her printer.

She opted for open-style shelves "that give it a bistro feel" and continued the theme with white subway tiles. "Black and white make me happy," Cochet said.

She saved some money by buying decorative mirrors and a glass Buddha head at West Elm, but opted for more expensive composite flooring made of engineered wood that's "super sturdy. It was my one splurge. I couldn't cheap out on the floors."

Cochet retained the living room's gas fireplace but painted the brick black, with black glass stones in the firebox and an all-white mantel. She bought an animal-skin rug on MyHabit.com for under the coffee table in the living/sitting area.

These days, Cochet said, her three children and their friends will sometime stay at the combination home/company headquarters, or her daughter will pop in to pick up a package she's had delivered to the house.

"After I left Haddonfield, it was sad, because it was the last place I lived with my husband," who died 15 years ago, she said. "We raised our children there. But now, this feels like home."


earvedlund@phillynews.com

215-854-2808

@erinarvedlund

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