A Victorian Arts & Crafts Becomes Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn

Running a bed-and-breakfast is no easy feat, but Bob and Traudi Thomason prefer the business to downsizing from their beautiful Wayne estate.

The dining room. (Photo by John Lewis).
When Bob and Traudi Thomason’s youngest daughter left for college, the empty nesters were faced with a decision: either remain in their Wayne home or
downsize. Then there was the actual size of their nest: a five-bedroom Victorian Arts & Crafts estate from the 1890s.

No doubt, it was too much house for two people—and that gave Traudi an idea. “A B&B seemed like the perfect way to repurpose,” she says.

Once the couple began to seriously consider the prospect, they realized that the odds were in their favor. The home is on Strafford Avenue, a short walk from downtown Wayne’s many restaurants and shops, not to mention the train station. And a pool on the one-acre property would be an nice bonus for guests in the summer months.

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Inside, the layout lent itself perfectly to operating an inn, from the spacious formal living areas on the first floor to the five bedrooms—all with en-suite bathrooms—on the second and third floors.

The Thomasons could also bill their venture the first B&B on the proper Main Line—not a bad selling point. “Everyone assumes I had a life-long desire to open a bed and breakfast, which isn’t the case,” Traudi says. “We lived here for 10 years before it even crossed my mind.”

It took three long years to get all the zoning permits and paperwork finalized for the Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn. “When everything was approved, it was a great feeling because it was real,’” says Traudi. “We just needed people to want to stay.”

The innkeepers opened for business on Mother’s Day of last year, and they’re looking forward to celebrating their first Valentine’s Day this month with couples from both near and far.

Before moving to Wayne, the Thomasons lived on a 30-acre farm in New Hampshire. “We had completely renovated a 200-year-old home there,” says Traudi.

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The family left New England to be closer to their daughter, who was a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. And since they also had a younger daughter, the Radnor schools were another draw. “We wanted to be close [to Washington], but not too close,” says Traudi. “So the Main Line seemed like a great place

Still, after an initial tour of the Victorian home, the Thomasons were hesitant to take on another large project, especially with just the two of them and one child living there full-time. For a house its age, though, it was in great shape. And yet, as appealing as it was to not have to worry about any major renovations, the Thomasons weren’t easily convinced.

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But after a year of shopping around, nothing compared to the Wayne home. “I simply couldn’t connect with another house,” Traudi says. “The broker called and asked me if I was still interested, because the home was still for sale. I felt like it was waiting for me.” 

And so, the Thomasons finally settled into their new house on Strafford Avenue, and Traudi focused on cosmetic improvements. “The one thing I love about these old homes is maintaining what’s here,” she says. “I really leave as much as I can that’s authentic in place.”

In the family room/great room, the owners refinished the extensive cherry woodwork and added beautiful floral William Morris reproduction wallpaper authentic to the home’s era. “I have an eclectic style,” says Traudi, as she points to the abstract paintings hanging in the room. “I like to mix antiques with modern pieces.”

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Traudi serves breakfast to her guests in the dining room, with its striking china cabinet and a three-paneled mirror on the opposite wall. Also original is the oval crystal chandelier hanging above the antique dining set. “I wasn’t sure how people would feel sitting at the same table having breakfast together, but they seem to love it,” she says.

The roomy kitchen’s modern amenities are now necessities, and an adjoining sunroom doubles as an office. “I like to spend a lot of time there because it’s almost like being outside,” says Traudi.

Elsewhere, bedrooms once claimed by their daughters are now comfortable accommodations for visitors. But perhaps the biggest transition for the Thomasons was moving their personal living quarters to what is essentially an in-law suite. “We truly lived in every room,” says Traudi. “We had to reorganize everything. We were downsizing, but staying in the same home.”

Running a B&B is a major lifestyle change for the couple—one they’ve had no choice but to fully embrace. It’s only been six months, and they’ve already hosted visitors from 22 states and around the world. Guests have included everyone from business types to parents visiting kids at nearby colleges. “Anyone opening a B&B is going to think about how it will feel sharing her home with guests,” says Traudi. “For us, that’s the part that feels really good. We’ve met such interesting people.” 

And there’s an added benefit. “I’ve always loved taking care of this house,” Traudi says. “I’m glad it will be here for someone in the future. I think it will stand the test of time.”

Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn • 211 Strafford Ave., Wayne; (610) 715-2224, bnbinn.com

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