Architect: Rene Hoffman, R.A. Hoffman Architects, 55 Plank Ave., Paoli; hoffman-architects.com; (610) 889-0660.
Builder: AJP Classic Builders, 645 Cranstone Lane, Blue Bell, (215) 643-7451.
Decorative Painting: Nadia Zychal, (856) 616-9895, nadiazychal.com.
Interior Design: Neda Couzens, 138 Montrose Ave., Suite 12, Bryn Mawr; (610) 519-9601, nedacouzensinteriors.com.
Landscape Architect: Charles Hess, Hess Landscape Architects, 1570A Sumneytown Pike, Lansdale; (215) 855-5530, hessla.com.
It had to be something special. Neda Couzens knew she wanted to make a memorable first impression in her clients’ custom-built Conshohocken home. So the Bryn Mawr-based interior designer sought out the services of artist Nadia Zychal to work her magic on the walls of the foyer and a nearby hallway leading to the home office.
Couzens installed a wooden chair rail and baseboard. The space in between was Zychal’s canvas. The artist spent four months on a beautiful faux-woodwork look. “Visitors can’t believe that it’s not real inlaid wood,” says Couzens. “They have to touch it to believe it.”
And the foyer is just the beginning in this Old World European-style home. “The owners wanted it to be casual and warm—nothing overly stuffy or too fancy,” she says. “They like to throw parties, so it had to be great for entertaining.”
The main living areas are fancy and functional. In the kitchen, cherrywood cabinets, topped with black granite countertops, line the perimeter of the room. A massive center island, with its vast neutral granite countertop, is perfect for party buffets and as a routine gathering place for family. The island’s base is stained black and has refrigerator/freezer drawers, a wine fridge and plenty of storage. Glass cabinets on either side of the armoire-style refrigerator display cherished family items.
Couzens brought in classic touches like a stainless-steel farmhouse sink with a carved motif on its front apron. A decorative wrought-iron pot rack over the island makes an interesting alternative to the expected light fixture.
From the kitchen, one can look out into the great room, with its warm woods, comfortable leather furniture and adjoining bar. When the weather cooperates, party guests gravitate to the patio area, where there’s a working fireplace, a grill area, and stairs leading to the resort-caliber pool and spa.
Couzens’ clients wanted to start fresh with their new home, so she made sure that everyone in the family had input. Hence the home office—a man cave designed for reading, watching TV and working. Dominating the space is a cozy seating area with a fireplace, velvet chair, plaid couch and distressed leather ottoman. A custom leaded-glass door brightens the space with natural light. Couzens kept the woodwork similar in theme to the rest of the house, choosing cherry for the paneling and built-ins.
Each of the owners’ 16-year-old twin daughters has her own room, and they share a bathroom. “The girls had totally different ideas of how they wanted their rooms decorated,” says Couzens. “I had them look through different magazines, and once we determined the style, I put a name to it.”
One twin had envisioned a glamorous “Hollywood room.” Fabrics like silk, satin and velvet bedding helped to achieve that effect. Mirrored bedside tables also lend elegance to the space. A blue, floral chaise is a popular reading spot. “The parents really wanted their daughters to use their bedrooms like teenagers do,” says Couzens. “So we made sure they had comfortable places to sit, plus a desk to do homework.”
The other room has a more relaxed French-country feel. Bedding in checkered and toile patterns covers the canopy bed. Cream furniture, tan carpeting and blue accents are in keeping with the more understated feel. “I didn’t do much in terms of accessorizing because I wanted the girls to add things of their own,” says Couzens, who also designed a lounge area just down the hall. “Based on their ages, they were past the playroom stage.”
A homework space in the lounge includes a table with a glass top, plus a computer station. And there are plenty of bookshelves. Couzens had the floor tiled, “in case anything spilled.”
The sectional couch and wall-mounted, flat-screen TV are movie-night favorites, as is the mini kitchen with microwave, refrigerator and sink. “It’s nice that they have their own area where they can entertain friends,” says Couzens.
As for the house as a whole, Couzens sums it up this way: “It’s elegant, but it doesn’t have a ‘do not touch’ feeling. It feels real.”