Zillow Research Helps the Philly Family Find a Bigger Home


When Meena Ramakrishnan took a break from Facebook, she turned to Zillow instead. Although she and her husband, Ravi Rajagopalan, did not seek to move to a new home, she found an ad they could not pass up. They recognized the roof top solarium of the house a few blocks from their current house and were intrigued by the size of the house and the three car garage.

“It was probably the most expensive break from Facebook you could take,” joked Ramakrishnan, a public health doctor. “We had been in another house in the Rittenhouse area since 2005 and had undergone a fairly 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, 14, and Leela, 11, got 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 reminded me of where I grew up in Sri Lanka, where the architecture, as a whole, had tiled roofs,” said Rajagopalan, president of Pride Garden Products at Ridley Park . “It was amazing that a house in Philadelphia had a red clay tile roof. It brought back memories of my childhood. It was also unusual to have a front yard in the city.

But the house had a strange layout with non-continuous stairs, only two bedrooms, and rooms without windows. In April 2016, they purchased the house and spent the next 18 months renovating it to create a house with four bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms, an office, patio furniture, family room, and kitchen and dining area. with an open porch for grilling all year round.

The couple love to cook, with Rajagopalan tackling the most elaborate dishes. The kitchen is the central gathering place where children do their homework while their parents prepare meals. The functional kitchen includes a large peninsula island for food preparation and casual dining. Henrybuilt Wood Cabinets keep appliances hidden for a clean, uncluttered look.

The garden lounge, with an orange accent wall, features artwork from their travels to India and Tibet. They bought one of their favorite paintings, hanging over the gas fireplace, while they were visiting a Buddhist monastery.

“He is the Buddha of Compassion,” said Ramakrishnan. “In a small monastery with natural pigments such beautiful art was created. Tibet has been one of the most difficult journeys we have ever taken, physically. The resilience and spirit of the Tibetan people inspired us.

The focal point of the house is the 75-square-foot green wall created by Maryland-based Greenstreet GreenWalls with more than 300 plants that can purify 143,000 cubic feet of air per day, according to Rajagopalan.

“There are many benefits of having plants in the house for both physical and mental health,” he said. “A living green wall circulates the air throughout the house three and a half times a day.

To create as much natural light as possible, architect Ed Barnhart of Always by Design at Queen Village included several skylights in the design. It has also integrated an elevator that connects the garage to the roof.

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 must-see if I need a little space or to catch up with my reading,” he said. “I open the doors of the solarium and am close to nature.

Ramakrishnan also enjoys spending time there, appreciating the seasonal changes.

“It’s a very livable part of the house due to the temperature fluctuations,” she said. “In the summer I use it in the morning or in the evening to do yoga or meditation, but in cold weather I wait until the end of the morning and turn on the underfloor heating and sometimes the gas fireplace to warm it up. “

Staying in the Rittenhouse area was a big factor in deciding to relocate. The family made a lot of friends there thanks to the schools and the children’s activities. They take advantage of the local farmer’s market where they can buy seasonal produce. Especially for Ramakrishnan, who works from home, meeting neighbors there or walking around the neighborhood is important.

“It gives me that human connection that I really appreciate,” she said.

Is your home a haven of peace? Submit your home by email (and send digital photos) to [email protected].