After living in the city, Mike and Joanna found themselves looking for space to spread out with their new addition, Stella. Little did they know that moving to Elkins Park would set them on a journey of community love and home renovation. They moved into a 90-year-old home that had been empty for years. Throughout their ownership, they’ve made an incredible amount of changes to modernize it while still keeping the charm and character of the home. They’ve also built lifelong friendships with the community that surrounds them, especially their neighbors. They’ve watched Stella grow up here and are incredibly sad to leave, but will be moving to paradise (aka Florida) for some much-needed sunshine and Grandma time. Get to know the story of 912 Melrose Avenue and how Mike and Joanna made this house a home.
Mike, Joanna + Stella
912 Melrose Avenue | Elkins Park
Represented by Kristin McFeely
How would you describe your interior design style?
Transitional, comfortable, homey, welcoming, and calming. We both met as teenagers working for a furniture store so we wanted something that could pass for a showroom but also felt comfortable enough to throw our feet up. Lots of the little accents are from the many trips that we've taken together.
If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room, what would it be?
Happy - Pharrell
How would you describe your neighborhood?
Amazing, Welcoming, and Friendly. The first day we looked at the house we met our neighbor who was born on the next block over and has since lived in two homes on our block. Our families have grown very close over the years and we hate to leave them. The block is very diverse and everyone is super friendly and helpful. The first winter we were here I got sick and the neighbors shoveled our snow and dropped food off for us. It was great!
If you could use your house as the setting for a remake of a movie, which movie would it be?
This is 40. We have entertained so much in this house and its always chaos but we love it
What was your non-negotiable when it came to finding your dream home?
Big backyard, Home with character. We were living in the city when Joanna got pregnant. We were in a two-year lease so we had plenty of time to find a home. We must have looked at 25 homes in the Tri-county area. We kept striking out. Our house was a bank-owned property with horrible pictures that came up in every search. On a whim, we went and looked at it. It needed work but it felt just right. We've put so much love and hard work into this house, we are going to miss it.
What's your favorite room? Why?
Our favorite rooms change throughout the seasons. In the spring and fall we love the front porch. You can sit, have your coffee, and watch the birds and neighbors go by. It's so peaceful. At Thanksgiving and Christmas it's the living room. Always filled with friends, neighbors, and family. Oh and a tree that scrapes the ceiling.
What is one thing you need in your home to make it yours?
Family. Sometimes we get caught up running from place to place or sucked into our jobs. When we all finally get to sit together at the table or watch a movie together, you get a sense of home.
What makes you (or your family) laugh?
Dance party. We always have music on in the house. Our daughter likes to play dance games and is competitive. Then Mom and Dad have to break out our 90's moves to show her how it's done. We laugh so hard.
If you could throw a theme party in your house, what would be the theme?
Disco / Funk Dance Party.
How can you not dance and act like a fool to this music?
A day spent running around the neighborhood
What's your first stop and last stop?
Moving to Elkins Park we thought it was going to be an older quiet community. Boy, we were wrong. You will always see people out for a walk, hanging out at the local Farmers Market which is our first stop. After running a few errands we'll either stop at Trios Pizza for lunch and or stop by Goat House or Ritas for ice cream.
How has your home changed from the move-in day?
It was pretty bad when we moved in. It had been empty for years. We put a lot of love and thought into this house. We tried to modernize it while keeping the character of a 90 yr old home. We haven't had the chance to finish everything but it's different from when we bought it. For years the front mailbox hung from one screw falling off. The very first thing we did after closing was fix the mailbox. We wanted to let the neighborhood know we were here, and committed to fixing up the house to a level the block deserved.
What's your favorite memory of your home?
Watching Stella learn to walk in the living room. She jhad ust turned 1 when we moved in. We had a big corral in the living room where she could roam around without getting into trouble.
What was the catalyst for you purchasing a new home?
This home- Was Stella being born and wanted the space? We were moving out of the city and wanted more space without being too far from the center city. Two train stations within walking distance were a plus. We are moving to experience living in paradise. It's rare that you have the opportunity to relocate and take your jobs with you. My mom moved to Fort Myers about 20 years ago so we are moving to Naples to sunshine, beach, and palm trees. Oh, and to keep an eye on Mom.
What's your favorite piece of Philly culture?
Stella is fascinated with Billy Penn on top of City Hall. As a lover of live music, I took Joanna to so many local shows. NYC is great but she loves the live music scene. I've lived here my whole life and there are so many things about Philly that I love but only one that encapsulates Philly and that is Rocky. I know it's cliche but it's the truth.