Getting Wilder

Two historic buildings in the heart of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood are reimagined as a romantic and artful hideaway.

Written by:Monique Kleinhuizen
Photographed by:Kielinski Photographers and Jason Varney

Antique Persian rugs and patinaed brass form unique wall compositions that draw the eye upward.

Restaurateurs Nicole Barrick and Brett Naylor have always loved the vibe of Philly’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. There’s history layered with fun restaurants and quirky shops—and they were especially intrigued by a pair of old buildings that looked like they could use a little love. With a dream of a bold destination eatery, they brought in designer Hope Velocette of Velocette Studio and began reimagining what the dilapidated spaces could become. While contractors rebuilt walls and waded through the layers of life from previous generations, Velocette iterated on the design as a passion project

Owner Nicole Barrick designed and painted several murals in the space—including this stunner behind the bar (on the left). Cambria design shown: Huntley Matte™

The restaurant, Wilder, became bigger and bolder, its concepts developing through partnerships with local artisans and vendors. Vintage chandeliers play off sleek Cambria Huntley Matte surfaces. Patinaed brass curves against wall-mounted Persian rugs where maximalism meets modernity in fresh ways.

(Left) Custom-built banquettes, upholstered in bold turquoise velvet, flank the dining room. Cambria design shown: Huntley Matte

While You’re in Town

Stay a While | Make your home base The Rittenhouse Hotel and experience the history and character of the neighborhood up-close. Or hole up in The Rittenhouse Spa for a facial or massage.

Stretch Your Legs | Walk the Schuylkill Banks riverside trail, lounge in the grass, or—if being on the water is more your thing—rent a kayak or take a riverboat tour of the Schuylkill River. 

Shine a Little | Stop by Angela Monaco Jewelry to peruse individually handcrafted fine jewelry made from environmentally conscious materials. 

Shop Local | Visit the Rittenhouse Farmers Market—a year-round, producer-only market held Saturdays and Tuesdays at Rittenhouse Square Park. 

Laugh Out Loud | Helium Comedy Club is known for bringing national talent to its cozy, intimate venue—and offers a full menu of food and drinks, too. 

Feel Like a Kid Again | Fat Jack’s Comicrypt is Philly’s oldest local comic shop, featuring a huge selection of new and old issues, toys, gaming, and graphic novels. There’s a cat, too.

Get the Look

Explore the design featured in this story.