Over his 24-year career, interior designer Chuck Soldano has worked with everyone from first-time homebuyers to empty nesters. A recent client was a divorcée making the transition from the Main Line home where she’d raised her children to a new place in Haverford.
The kitchen needed the biggest makeover, along with the master bathroom and the lower level. The client was set on an Old World, French Country aesthetic.
“She had a very clear idea about what she wanted,” says Soldano, who described the new home as a “vanilla box” built in the 1990s.
To give it a stately, old-Main Line feel, Soldano installed aged quarter-sawn oak beams in the family room and replaced all the white, raised-paneled doors with solid mahogany and hammered hardware. “You walk into the house now, and it feels like it was built many years ago,” he says.
LEFT: A classic feature of older Main Line homes comes in the form of reclaimed beams in the family room. RIGHT: A soft blue in the foyer and a subtle geometric print in the dining room bring personality to the home.
Downsizing … to a point
Soldano’s client was moving from a huge 11,000-square-foot home to one half the size, so decisions had to be made about what to keep in terms of furniture and accessories. The designer worked alongside the owner as she sorted through what she wanted to bring along, what to donate, and what to save for her three children. They even stored away some items for future use in a possible vacation home.
“She lived in her old house while construction was being done at the new one,” Soldano says of the process, which took about nine months. “I was there facilitating it.
I wanted the client to be madly in love with her new house—because it’s her house.”
The homeowner can take credit for some solid finds. In the dining room, a pair of antique doors with leaded glass insets came from a dealer in Lancaster, and upholstered chairs from the last home are arranged around a new table to accommodate the room’s rectangular shape. A taupe-colored hutch—also a new purchase—blends perfectly with the cream wallpaper’s subtle geometric pattern.
“You want clients to articulate what they like and help you get to their vision,” says Soldano, “because, in the end, it’s their vision.”
In the family room, two hutches in distressed cream flank a plush, dark-mushroom couch accented with nail-head trim. Above it, an antique tapestry from the previous home pulls together all the various colors. “There were so many great pieces and parts to work with, so it was enjoyable to build new schemes around them and find new things to add,” Soldano says.
Custom touches in the kitchen include the cabinetry and a tile backsplash.
The inspiration for the look of the Tuscan-themed kitchen came from a cream-and-brown custom tile by local kitchen designer Joanne Hudson. Both floral and geometric, it acts as a striking backsplash for the stainless steel Wolf range and hammered-copper hood. While much of the cabinetry is a distressed taupe, the cabinets on either side of the range are a deep charcoal with hints of blue mixed in. All of which makes the cooking area the kitchen’s focal point.
The same charcoal-blue shade carries over to the base of the center island, which has a custom butcher-block top. The client loves to bake, so Soldano had one end of the island turned into a prep station, lowering it and adding a granite top. “She knew exactly how she liked to use her kitchen, so we were able to tailor things to her specifications,” he says.
“Truly lived in”
The same user-friendly logic applies to the master bathroom. Its feminine feel matches the rest of the home. “This is her empty nest,” says Soldano. “It’s the first time in her life that she has a house of her own, so she could be a little bit more selfish in her design selections.”
Hence, the freestanding clawfoot tub and the shower’s spa-like features. The cream-colored marble flooring has an inset onyx-filigree design, which lends the appearance of an area rug.
Since family and friends often come to visit, the client outfitted the lower level with a working gym, a full bathroom, an office and a built-in bar.
“This is a house that’s truly lived in; it’s filled with the owner’s collections of life,” says Soldano. “That’s what makes a project beautiful—that the person who has the keys loves it.”