Photos by Rebecca McAlpin
Surrounded by lush gardens, this stately Bryn Mawr home feels like it’s out of a fairy tale, with a newly revamped interior to match.
Situated on a large corner lot in Bryn Mawr, a stately manor house is surrounded by gardens that look as if they sprang from a fairy tale. But there was a time when the inside of the ’20s-era home felt disconnected from its magical surroundings. The kitchen and family room felt closed off, a decided drawback for the most recent owners, two attorneys with three young children and a fourth on the way.
Infusing the interior with the same light and lovely vibe of the gardens would require more than a sprinkling of pixie dust. So the owners turned to interior designer Glenna Stone for a plan that would make the house as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside.
The couple anticipated spending most of their time in the kitchen, breakfast area and family room. “Our goal was to create a warm, open and inviting environment where we could cook, bake, entertain and spend time as a family,” the owner says.
The existing kitchen and breakfast room were gutted. With an awkward two-tiered island and banks of dark, dated cabinetry out of the way, the floorplan could be opened up to make way for a light, bright kitchen and dining area conducive to gatherings of all sorts.
“Our clients wanted a family-friendly design that allowed them to really enjoy and use the space on a daily basis without sacrificing style,” Stone says. “They wanted an open concept for two reasons. First, it allows them to keep the kids in eyesight while prepping and cooking, which is really a must when you have little ones. Second, the windows allow so much great natural light, along with views of the gardens—and they wanted to take full advantage of that.”
Sophisticated and Livable
Based in Philadelphia, Stone is among the 70 nationally known designers whose work is featured in the recently published coffee-table book Inspired Interiors. She’s known for a design philosophy that’s sophisticated and livable—and it shows in the Bryn Mawr project. Clean-lined white cabinets are customized to suit the family’s needs and provide lots of storage. Knives are stowed in a specialized built-in block drawer, out of the reach of little hands. A dedicated drawer for spices is readily accessible from the gas cooktop.
In the island, a pull-out cabinet accommodates a much-loved stand mixer. The owner, an accomplished baker, has treasured it for years. The island is topped in milky quartzite that retains its luxurious looks with minimal maintenance. It’s large enough to seat four, with comfy leather bar-height chairs. “A snap to keep clean,” the designer notes.
Nickel-and-glass hanging pendants provide task lighting with a streamlined modern statement. “Our clients wanted a white kitchen that wasn’t stark, so we pulled in color through the backsplash and the chairs in the breakfast room,” Stone says. “Ultimately, it’s a kitchen that looks fabulous but is also incredibly functional and can take anything their busy lifestyle throws at it.”
In the breakfast area, chairs painted muted blue surround a round wooden pedestal table. A slab of deep, rich walnut transitioning from the quartzite countertops provides warmth and helps define the area. “It’s the place where our family gathers for most meals,” the owner of the Bryn Mawr home says.
An essential element in effectively planning any renovation is deciding what features should be preserved. This vintage home was blessed with timeless millwork that was embraced in the new plan. “In the family room, the built-ins and window seat were existing and truly so perfect against the backdrop of the gardens,” Stone says. “We just added window treatments and a new cushion there. Otherwise, they were a gem.”
To enhance the flow between spaces, hardwood floors were laid throughout the space, replacing tile flooring in the family room. The archway between the kitchen and dining room was widened to usher in more natural light and views of the gardens.
To facilitate the connection between adjoining rooms, the dining room walls were painted to echo the soft hues in the kitchen and breakfast room. “This new opening is centered on a large window in the dining room,” the owner says. “The opening feels consistent with the original design of the home but also creates a connection between the kitchen and the yard and gardens.”
Attention to Detail
In the family room, subtle textures and details combine to give the space an elevated feeling that’s still approachable. A finely honed design statement, the coffee table has rounded, child-friendly edges, mirroring the breakfast table in a viewer’s sightline. Its wood is also lightly weathered. “You’re less likely to see wear and tear,” Stone notes.
Hung from ceiling to floor, the drapes are a light, airy and ethereal frame to the garden vistas just outside. A sectional sofa, upholstered in soft navy blue, offers cozy seating for a growing family. Upholstered stools are accented with nail-head trim.
To update the existing fireplace, Stone designed a surround of marble set in a herringbone pattern. Thanks to some technological magic, the TV hanging above the mantle looks like a painting when it’s not in use. “The Frame television is a gamechanger because it doubles as art when you’re not watching TV,” says Stone. “You can choose from an extensive gallery of artwork and change up the display to suit your mood or season, or you can select a favorite to feature all the time.”
As for the family, they say the renovation has created a house that’s as inviting as the fairy-tale garden that was the springboard for the design—a place where they can live happily ever after. “The redesigned space is the center of all our daily activities. It’s where we prepare our meals, eat together, do homework and spend time as a family reading books and watching movies,” the owner says. “The design is open, bright and makes the entire home feel more connected. The transformation is really amazing.”