The Space

By J. Cooper Robb
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 21, 2005

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Michael Norris
Occupation: Executive director of the nonprofit Artreach.
Neighborhood: Bella Vista.
Style: 900-square-foot 19th-century trinity.

Michael Norris and his partner Matt Varrato live in a trinity tucked away on a little street in Bella Vista where only foot traffic is allowed. Built around the time of the Civil War, the home was later expanded in the rear to include an impressive kitchen, a guest room and a spectacular deck off the third-floor bedroom. Now large enough to avoid feeling cramped, the place still retains the coziness and charm of the original trinity layout.


When you were looking to buy a home in 1998, what made you decide to settle here?
"The location is close in terms of being able to walk to everything in Center City. And it was still affordable around here back then. The house was also the right size. And there are a lot of closets, which is really rare to find around here. And for extra storage there's a basement and a walkway beside the house."

Was it this cute when you bought it, or have you done a lot of work to the place?
"We've done a lot of painting. We also put in a new tile floor in the kitchen and installed central air."

How many bed and bathrooms do you have?
"There are three bedrooms and one bath."

Did you buy new furniture when you moved here?
"A little bit. We have sort of a mix of new furniture and antiques. A lot of what we have comes from both our families. Like one chair used to be my grandmother's, and the coffee table was Matt's grandfather's. It used to be a soda fountain table, and he just cut the legs off."

Your old stove with the clock in it is cool.
"That actually is high on our list of things to replace. The stove works fine, but the clock doesn't."

I like that you can walk through the sliding glass door in the kitchen to your backyard.
"It's great in the summer. Obviously we're not using it much now."

You get a ton of light in your second-floor office.
"One thing I like about this room is that it has built-in bookshelves. I have way too many books, and I was happy not to have to figure out where to put them all. We're planning on painting it. You can see right now we're experimenting with colors. Also on this floor is the bathroom, the washer and dryer, and the guest room, which we're planning on turning into a library."

And your bedroom is on the third floor?
"Yep. It's really big and gets a lot of light. And then there's a deck off the back of the bedroom, which was part of the addition. We used to use that room as our office because when Matt was in school we were both working a lot out of the house. We think it's the best room in the house, so we figure it should be the one we're in the most."

Got a great space? Email J. Cooper Robb (jrobb@philadelphiaweekly.com) with your name, neighborhood and contact info.

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