A casual scroll on Zillow led this family to a larger house in the Rittenhouse area – The Philadelphia Inquirer

A casual scroll on Zillow led this family to a larger house in the Rittenhouse area – The Philadelphia Inquirer

A casual scroll on Zillow led this family to a larger house in the Rittenhouse area – The Philadelphia Inquirer

They hadn’t planned to move, but they liked the idea of more space as the children get older.
When Meena Ramakrishnan decided to take a break from Facebook, she checked out Zillow, instead. Though she and her husband, Ravi Rajagopalan, hadn’t been looking to move to a new home, she found a listing they couldn’t pass up.
They recognized the home’s rooftop solarium just a couple blocks from the house where they already were living, and were intrigued by the home’s size and three-car garage.
“It was probably the most expensive break from Facebook that you could take,” joked Ramakrishnan, a physician in public health. “We had been in another house in the Rittenhouse area since 2005 and had gone through a pretty extensive renovation in 2011.”
But thinking long term, they liked the idea of having more space than their trinity-style home offered as their children, Anand, now 14, and Leela, now 11, get older. And Ramakrishnan, who worked from home, wanted a dedicated home office. This 4,500-square-foot home in the neighborhood they loved made sense.
“I found the house reminiscent of where I grew up in Sri Lanka where the architecture, as a whole, had tile roofs,” said Rajagopalan, president of Pride Garden Products in Ridley Park. “It was incredible that a house in Philadelphia had a red-clay tile roof. That brought back memories of my childhood. It was also unusual to have a front yard in the city.”
But the home had an odd layout, only two bedrooms, and rooms without windows. In April 2016, they bought the house and spent the next 18 months renovating it to create a home with four bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms, an office, garden room, family room, and kitchen and dining area with an open portico for grilling year-round.
The couple enjoys cooking, with Rajagopalan tackling the more elaborate fare. The kitchen is the central gathering place, where the kids do homework while their parents prepare meals. The kitchen includes a large peninsula island for food prep and casual meals. Henrybuilt wooden cabinets keep appliances hidden for a clean, uncluttered look.
The garden room, with one orange accent wall, features artwork from their travels to India and Tibet. They bought one of their favorite paintings, which hangs over the gas fireplace, while visiting a Buddhist monastery.
“It is the compassion Buddha,” Ramakrishnan said. “In a small monastery with natural pigments, such beautiful art was being created. Tibet was one of the hardest trips we have ever taken, physically. The resilience and spirit of the Tibetan people inspired us.”
The home’s focal point is the 75-square-foot green wall created by Maryland-based Greenstreet GreenWalls, featuring more than 300 plants that can purify 143,000 cubic feet of air a day, according to Rajagopalan.
“There are many benefits of having plants in the house for physical and mental health,” he said. “A living green wall circulates air throughout the entire house 3½ times a day.”
To create as much natural light as possible, architect Ed Barnhart of Always by Design in Queen Village included several light wells in the design. He also incorporated an elevator that travels from the garage to the rooftop.
The rooftop solarium is one of the family’s favorite spaces, where Rajagopalan grows herbs, vegetables and tropical plants, including his beloved banyan tree. Custom-made telescopic glass sliding doors allow year-round enjoyment.
“It’s a go-to place if I need some space or to catch up on my reading,” he said. “I open the solarium doors and am close to nature.”
Ramakrishnan also enjoys spending time there, appreciating the seasonal changes.
“It’s a very livable part of the house because of the temperature fluctuations,” she said. “In the summer I use it in the morning or evening to do some yoga or meditation, but on cold days I wait until late morning and turn the floor heat on and sometimes the gas fireplace to warm it up.”
Staying in the Rittenhouse area was an important factor when deciding to move. The family has made lots of friends there through the children’s schools and activities. They enjoy the local farmer’s market, where they can buy seasonal produce. Especially for Ramakrishnan, who works from home, bumping into neighbors there or while walking around the neighborhood is important.
“It gives me that human connection that I really enjoy,” she said.
Is your house a Haven? Nominate your home by email (and send some digital photographs) at properties@inquirer.com.

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