For Better or … Even Better

A unique Wayne colonial celebrates two dynamic personalities.

For Lisa Furey, 2007 was a hectic year. First she got remarried. Then, while planning her nuptials, she sold her Wayne house. Meanwhile, her new husband, Jim Colton, left behind his Blue Bell townhome, and they moved to a 55-year-old colonial in Wayne that was in desperate need of renovations.

In merging their belongings, along with their different tastes, the newlyweds were faced with the challenge of creating a place in which they’d both feel at home. Furey appreciated her husband’s love of an ultra-modern aesthetic, but she didn’t think it would go over well for a blended family with three preteen children who were always entertaining friends. Furey envisioned something that combined traditional and contemporary elements.

“His townhouse was super-modern in design, but that wasn’t going to work with this house,” she says.

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Now, as Furey approaches her first anniversary in her new home, she laughs as she thinks about what it took to get the house to a stage both she and her husband were happy with. “A few times, it felt like we were on one of those HGTV design shows,” she says. “Trying to get two people to be in agreement of choices when they have different styles can be a challenge.”

Luckily, as an interior designer on the Main Line and in Center City, Furey has experience working with diverse tastes. And her previous career as a divorce attorney helped with the negotiation and compromise that accompany every design project.

The Wayne colonial met most of the couple’s primary needs. It’s within walking distance to downtown Wayne, schools and the train. And the home didn’t sit on a large piece of property—a plus for a family who preferred not to spend weekends in the yard.

It’s dated layout, however, required extensive work. Painting the shutters and front door black gave the yellow house a fresh look, and the addition of a portico outside the front door provided definition to its box-like shape.

As soon as Furey saw the super-small kitchen and the formal dining room next door, she immediately wanted to eliminate the wall between the two rooms and make one large space. “This house doesn’t have large-scale rooms, so we needed to use and maximize every square inch,” she says.

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In the end, doing away with a formal dining room wasn’t a great loss for her. “I’m a realtor also, so I know that some people really want a formal dining room,” she says. “But keeping those two rooms separate wasn’t going to work for my family. I don’t think changes like this hurt the resale value of a home. Putting in red- and black-checkered tiles in a master bathroom just because you like it will hurt resale. This kind of change won’t.”

In fact, Furey often suggests ways for clients to make their dining rooms more useful—like installing shelves for a small library. “The dining room is usually one of those rooms you just walk through and use on holidays,” she says. “Why not get as much use out of it as you can?”

Furey called upon the experts at Goebel Cabinetry in Exton to execute the layout of her new kitchen and dining space (pictured above). “Lisa is so easy to work with—especially on this project,” says owner John Goebel. “She had a layout of exactly what she wanted.”

One that addressed many different needs. “I planned it down to the last inch,” says Furey.

A slab of white granite with blue and gray tones inspired the blue-and-white kitchen. “I like the contrast of the light and the dark,” she says.

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The contrast is even more drastic with the dark navy paint in the dining area. “I’ll admit I was nervous about the color because I thought it was going to be too dark,” says Furey. “It is very inky. At night, it almost looks black. But I really like it.”

White is becoming more popular with many of Goebel’s clients. “We hardly ever did white cabinetry before, and now it’s probably more than half of the kitchens we do,” he says. “People want their kitchens to be light and bright.”

The Shaker-style cabinets with clean lines emerged out of a compromise Furey made with her husband, who wanted more of a modern, flat-faced cabinet. A generously sized island provides seating for up to four and storage options for liquor, bar supplies and linens. Matching pendant lighting with a silver base and a frosted white shade hangs above the island and the dining table, bringing continuity to the two areas.

Glass tiles in an Arctic white give the backsplash a more contemporary look. A wet bar area with a second sink and a display cabinet with various blue-and-white pottery is a focal point, while a small desk area set between the stainless steel refrigerator and wet bar is a convenient place for household paperwork.

Black dining chairs surround a dark, cherry wood farmhouse table, which can extend to accommodate 10 diners. “I think if I used matching chairs, it would have been boring,” Furey says. “Black is a neutral, so it goes with everything. I like using black in a space because I think it grounds the room.”

Oak floors bring a traditional element to the space. “We love this room,” says Furey. “We’re in here all the time.”

The design of the living room (pictured above) had to be both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian. “Although most people don’t have their kids in the living room, we knew our kids would be in here all the time,” says Furey.

Since she wanted to blend colors throughout the house, Furey decided on a slate blue for the walls. “I wanted there to be continuity as you went from room to room,” she says. “One of the easiest ways to do it is with paint.”

And though her husband feared it would be too gray, it turned out perfectly. “Some people think gray will be too cold, but I think it’s cozy and enveloping. It’s a moody color depending on how much natural light is coming in.”

To add some texture, Furey chose neutral-colored beige sofas with straight lines, and pillows in velvets and satins. An Asian-inspired armoire conceals a television and various electronics. An Oriental rug with dominant blue and brown shades pulls together the room’s color scheme. “With hardwood or tile, a rug will soften the look and feel of your floors with pattern and provide warmth underfoot,” Furey says. “I wasn’t sure I wanted a rug in here, but it makes such a positive difference.”

An ottoman in a dark leather doubles as a coffee table and a place for storage. Not a fan of tchotchkes, Furey favors crystal, in the form of candlestick holders on the fireplace mantel and figurines on the end tables.

Elsewhere, the home’s master bedroom (pictured above) begged for a renovated bathroom, which was small and dark. “We couldn’t enlarge it, but there were some things that could be done to make it appear bigger,” she says.

A pedestal sink and frameless shower door open up the space (pictured below). Sand-colored porcelain tiles set on the diagonal were used to make the floor appear longer. A light-colored blue-gray on the walls continues on the ceiling, helping to expand the feel of the space. “The colors in here remind me of the surf and sand,” says Furey. “So that I really like.”

For other couples in a situation similar to hers, Furey recommends making a list of needs. “Look through as many magazines as possible for things you like. Do this separately,” says Furey. “A pattern begins to form with those pictures.”

Although it took some compromise, the newlyweds are pleased with the choices they made. “I think we did a pretty good job on our first attempt at home design as a couple,” says Furey. “And I can honestly say my husband would agree with me.”

Interiors: Lisa Furey Interiors
, Wayne; (610) 688-4201,
Goebel Cabinetry, 308 Commerce Drive, Exton; (610) 363-8970,


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