When TR and Marcie Risk started looking for their second home, they knew they wanted a fixer-upper. Marcie, an interior designer and design consultant, was eager to put her creative talents to work and make a personal retreat that reflected the couple’s eclectic tastes. TR would do what he does best: create custom furniture from sustainable, recyclable materials.
They found what they were looking for in a three-story Old World European home in Lower Merion Township that hadn’t been touched since its construction in the 1960s. “It had a great structure and elements we could work with,” says Marcie, who also owns Origin & Ash, a Bryn Mawr home furnishings store.
The couple didn’t make any structural changes, but they did remove walls and raise doorways for a more efficient and functional floor plan. “There’s no wasted space,” Marcie says.
Though they completed the major changes two years ago, decorating the home is an ongoing project. “We’re always improving and changing,” she says.
The Risk home has a clean, modern feel. “While it’s traditional as far as furniture placement, the pieces are eclectic,” Marcie says.
Owner of Ruins Recycled, TR made the built-ins, case goods and interior doors. He describes his work as sophisticated yet cool. “People have trouble grasping that my furniture is newly made, because the lumber looks old,” he says.
TR typically uses wood from structures that are 150 years old. “Each piece is one of a kind,” he says.
“TR doesn’t throw anything away, while I’m a minimalist,” adds Marcie. “We complement each other.”
Marcie says she and her husband work symbiotically. “We’re attuned to each other’s energy,” she says. “I’ll be designing an upholstered sofa, for instance, and he’ll be building the perfect coffee table for it. We both share the same aesthetic, so we never argue over the details.”
The Risks also enjoy buying smaller antiques and vintage items. “Everything has a place and a meaning,” Marcie says. “It’s more about the art of using space appropriately—not necessarily about having a lot of it. Small spaces often create the most warmth and personality.”
Their home abounds with green features, since existing materials were repurposed. Most of the slate originally on the exterior was laid for walkways; pine paneling in the lower level is now a backsplash; and door hardware was removed and used in other places.
For the Risks, being in business for almost 12 years has brought its rewards, among them TR’s 1997 first-place win in the Manayunk Arts Festival.
“Both TR and I have had great recognition for our work,” Marcie says. “But it’s been the relationships and friendships we’ve cultivated through the store and our work that have really enhanced our lives.”
What follows is a closer look at the Risk home—inside and out.
Exterior: TR handcrafted the rustic cypress antique shutters and wooden flower boxes adorning the home’s stone front and sides. The front entrance boasts custom turquoise French screen doors, which open beneath an arbor dressed with wisteria (in summer). Custom copper lighting provides a brilliant accent.
Living room: Its walls provide a neutral palette to showcase the colorful furniture and artwork. A custom patchwork sofa and two moss-green chairs are characteristic of Marcie’s mix-and-match skills. Each piece comes from a different company, but somehow they complement one another. Oriental wool and custom wool sisal rugs help unite the color scheme.
Made by TR, the fireplace, mantel and mirror ensemble is a focal point of the room. “All of my pieces are an expression of my freedom,” he says.
Chef’s kitchen: The space features a Herbeau fireclay farmhouse sink and copper faucet, a cream-colored marble tile floor and a beamed ceiling. All appliances are stainless steel. TR made the countertops from antique English walnut, which used to be popular and has become trendy once again. The English walnut-and-pine cabinetry is also TR’s.
Dining room: A custom 15-foot built-in sideboard and glass-paneled cabinets made by TR are highlights of this warm space. He also did the dining room table and chairs.
Other pieces include an iron magnolia chandelier and an antique mahogany-and-walnut console. Custom Scalamandré window treatments and Hunter Douglas shades complete the look.
Master bedroom: All of the furniture and artwork are TR’s handiwork. A king-size antique walnut-and-cherry bed is flanked by two nightstands—hers painted antique walnut and Southern yellow pine with crystal hardware; his a round, pub-style piece made from fir and walnut. The nightstands are topped with green, glass-blown bottle lamps and linen shades. A custom crystal-and-iron chandelier takes center-stage on the beamed ceiling.
TR’s acrylic-on-board panel painting, “Beyond Winter,” consumes one wall. Attention to detail is evident in the pure white Matteo Italian bedding, which has crocheted trim on the pillowcases, duvet cover and linens. Silk window treatments from Beacon Hill, and custom beadboard shutters and trim finish the room.
Master bathroom: Features include a glass-door shower enclosure, a floor-to-ceiling mirror, beadboard walls, and caramel-colored Italian mosaic tile on the shower walls and floors. TR’s work is evident in the custom antique dark-walnut cabinetry with turquoise milk glass. Punched metal screens add texture to the cabinetry, while a white Kohler sink with chrome faucet provides a refreshing modern element.
Other features: The home’s lower walkout level features a family room with stone fireplace, mudroom, storage, bar area, full bath, guestroom, and custom laundry room. Mill Creek runs through the back yard, with a picnic table strategically placed at its edge.
The two-tiered yard is lush with azaleas and hydrangea. A slate patio enclosure offers a tranquil spot to watch birds, geese, deer, woodchucks, toads and turtles. “It’s very private and secluded—like you’re in the country,” says Marcie.
Though this is hardly your typical country home.
Interior Design: Marcie Risk Interiors, 933 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 527-6627, trrisk.com
Furniture: Ruins Recycled and Origin & Ash, 933 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 527-6627, originandash.com