You don’t have to venture too far into Michele Seidman’s Gladwyne home before you realize you’re in for something different. The foyer’s walls are covered in wallpaper from celebrity interior designer Kelly Wearstler’s collection.
The green-on-white Imperial Trellis pattern is daring for such a large space. But once Seidman saw the print, she had no second thoughts—nor did her Philadelphia-based interior designer, Michael Shannon.
“Great design is all about taking risks,” says Shannon. “The wallpaper makes an impact, and it sets the tone of the rest of the house.”
Young, stylish and hip to the latest design trends, Michele and husband Eric moved to Gladwyne from nearby Penn Valley two years ago. Before the birth of their 6-year-old son, Jared, the two had lived in Center City. But the family-friendly perks of suburbia were too much to pass up.
“It’s an adjustment,” says Seidman of her gradual warming to a life outside Center City. “I feel like a city girl trapped on the Main Line sometimes.”
While the Seidmans’ Penn Valley home was a fixer-upper, the one in Gladwyne was brand new. They provided the infusion of personality and style that Seidman describes as “American chic and modern with a new-traditional twist.”
It also entails some glamour, without compromising comfort. “I’m obsessed with wallpaper,” says Seidman. “I also mix vintage and modern together.”
Seidman recommends living in a space for a while before you decorate, because you’ll change your mind “a hundred times.” “It’s easy to decorate when you have no children,” she adds. “Once you do, there’s a complete shift in the way you decorate your house.”
Seidman’s design aesthetic has evolved of late, shifting from traditional to more modern. “I’m also conscious about being greener,” she says. “I reuse everything I can. Less is definitely more.”
Many of the home’s furnishings and accessories were found at estate, vintage and pre-demolition sales, plus local spots like Vintage Home in Paoli and Three Potato Four in Manayunk. “I definitely shop around,” says Seidman.
The kitchen’s existing cream cabinetry and granite countertops wouldn’t have been her first choice. So, for a dash of personality, she designed a family crest and had it painted in orange—her signature color—on the stove hood. A removable chalkboard on the refrigerator adds a touch of whimsy, while a hip Missoni drum shade chandelier brings a pop of color to the breakfast area.
A custom sectional sofa in a dark-gray velvet/velour blend from The Luxe Home in Philadelphia is the family room’s main seating option. Pillows in flannel, fur and other textures are nestled throughout. The rustic wood-plank coffee table came from Restoration Hardware, as did the oversized New York subway sign.
Three electric guitars remain propped against the stone fireplace, just waiting to be played. “Kids love jamming out with them,” says Seidman.
Back when she was pregnant, Seidman found the perfect “big boy” furniture for her son’s bedroom while vacationing with her husband in Miami.
“That modern look really drove what I did in the rest of the house,” she says of the furniture, made by acclaimed New York-based manufacturer ducduc.
The bunk beds were custom designed with a trundle and closet. The tasteful application of wall decals and stickers further personalize the space.
Just to the other side of a shared bathroom, Seidman transformed another bedroom into a slick yet functional play lounge, calling in Bucks County’s Parable Painting to bring her vision for the space to life. “I think fun, exciting, colorful rooms give kids inspiration to be creative,” she says.
Out in the hallway, the bottom half of the wall between the two rooms is painted bright orange and sports a large Vespa motor-scooter decal. “It’s a great way to make impact when you don’t have a budget for other things,” she says of decals.
In the play lounge, a vertical stripe in electric blue heads up one wall, over the ceiling and back down the opposite side of the room. Closet doors are painted bright orange, and the door leading to the bathroom is green. Walls are adorned with collector’s-edition skateboards and snowboards bought online and in Aspen, Colo.
Elsewhere in the room, a ducduc desk and art easel inspire creativity for her artistic son. A dark-gray shag carpet made from recycled tires stands up to the wear and tear of young feet, and two sectional sofas from West Elm accommodate frequent sleepovers.
Back on the first floor, a powder room has its own “wow” factor. “I like to make them really special moments,” says Shannon. “You can create a mood—really have fun with the décor.”
Seidman had admired Cole & Son’s Woods wallpaper for years, and the powder room’s high ceilings easily accommodate its tall, black-and-white birch trees. The black ceiling gives the illusion of the trees continuing into the dark sky. “This wallpaper makes a statement,” says Seidman. “If you used a paper like this in your great room and you got tired of it, you’re in trouble. But this is the perfect space for it.”
The black-and-white theme carries over to the white vanity, with its absolute-black granite top. The room’s sophisticated cherry on top is a recycled-aluminum Varaluz pinwheel light fixture, which casts a striking splash of illumination on the black ceiling.
Seidman’s love for transforming the interior spaces of her home has inspired her to make it a career. She’s currently in interior design school, with plans to start a design consulting business focused on refreshing and updating on a budget.
“I lived in a cool, well-decorated house while I was growing up,” she says. “My mom had a great sense of style. I could live in my mother’s living room from when I was in grade school right up to now, because it still would be in style.”
Like mother, like daughter. “This is definitely my passion,” says Seidman. “I love doing it for my home, and I can’t wait to help people with theirs.”
Interior Design: Michael Shannon Designs, 1314 Sansom St., Philadelphia; (215) 717-1094, michaelshannondesigns.com.
Interior Painting: Parable Painting, 158 Parkway South, Silverdale; (215) 692-2919, parablepainting.com.
Landscape Design: Esterly Landscapes Link Design & Construction, 7886 Boyertown Pike, Boyertown; (610) 971-9019, esterlylink.com.
Favorite places to shop for stylish finds for the home:
• Anthropologie, Wayne (anthropologie.com)
• Crate & Barrel, King of Prussia (crateandbarrel.com)
• Three Potato Four, Manayunk (threepotatofourshop.com)
• Target and Home Goods, various locations (target.com, homegoods.com)
• Material Culture, Jonathan Adler and The Luxe Home, Philadelphia (materialculture.com, jonathanadler.com, luxehomepa.com)