Builders: Ranieri & Kerns Associates, 19 Elliott Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 520-9838, rkabuilders.com.
Designer: Lynne Templeton, Greenable Building + Design Center, 41 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore; (610) 645-0600, greenable.org.
A 100-year-old home is rarely move-in ready. So when David Lincoln and Melissa Morris set their sights on an early-20th-century Georgian Colonial in Wynnewood, they were hoping the pros would outweigh the cons when it came renovations. “You know an older home is going to need some TLC,” says Morris. “The house had great bones.”
Because electrical and plumbing systems had been recently updated, the new owners’ primary focus was on the aesthetics. Renovations were completed in a year—impressive when you consider that every room needed extensive work.
The kids’ Jack-and-Jill bathroom and the en-suite master bath required complete makeovers. Another was converted into a second-floor laundry room. Two of the whopping seven bedrooms became home offices—one for him and one for her.
But it was the heart of the home required the biggest overhaul. “We took the kitchen down to the studs,” says Morris.
In keeping with the home’s older charm, Morris went with a warm, rustic feel over a more modern design. The end result: a French farmhouse-style kitchen with a homey feel.
From the get-go, the couple wanted their project to be as enviro-friendly as possible. “David works in green energy, and we’re very conscious of everything that ends up in landfills,” says Morris. “It felt like being sustainable with the project was what we were supposed to do.”
When renovations began six years ago, options for sustainable products were more limited. “It was challenging because companies weren’t doing many things that were interesting,” says Morris.
The existing kitchen and mudroom were combined to create the current kitchen. To define the space and give it a more intimate feel, the design incorporates a unique two-level, L-shaped peninsula. The lower portion provides additional counter space and plenty of cabinets below, while the upper tier has seating for up to eight.
The cabinetry was created by the Ohio-based company, KraftMaid. “They do several versions of eco-friendly cabinets with low-VOC finishes,” says project manager Lynne Templeton of Ardmore’s Greenable Building + Design. “This particular cabinet line is amazing—and it’s very durable.”
KraftMaid also created the large, furniture-style center island with mahogany top. All of it came from salvaged materials, as did the copper-and-steel hood above the six-burner range. A honed, cast concrete was used for the stone-like tiles in the backsplash, plus the countertops and the double farmhouse sink. “To me, it felt more rustic than granite,” says Morris.
There’s also a spacious mudroom, and an outdoor patio area was added two years ago. “It’s essentially a second huge living area that we have access to from the kitchen,” says Morris.
All of which makes for one enormous kitchen area. “It’s so great when we’re entertaining,” Morris gushes.
In the dining room, the bold turquoise on the walls was inspired by a photo Morris saw in a magazine. “Turquoise is so in right now,” says Templeton. “This room was finished about five years ago, so Melissa was definitely ahead of the trend.”
Two reclaimed wing chairs reupholstered in a new fabric sit among the formal dining set, and a formal crystal chandelier from Kay Lighting in Conshohocken is the room’s obvious statement piece. “I love entertaining in here,” says Morris of the well-used space.
References to the history of the home are readily apparent in the entry foyer, where the original oak paneling still covers the walls. A hand-carved staircase railing also remains. “We were so lucky that the wood was in great shape when we moved in,” says Morris. “All that it needed was polishing.”
Rather than repairing an existing elevator tucked behind the foyer, the owners used the space for multi-level closets. A first-floor sunroom near the elevator shaft was repurposed as a workout area.
The living-room fireplace is a real stunner, but it’s for show only. “We were told that the first owner and builder worked for the electric company,” says Morris. “I guess he wanted to ensure that electric heat was used.”
The living room’s bookshelves are also part of the original design, though the French doors were added to provide access to a new patio area. Upstairs, the stained glass in the doors leading from the master suite to a sunroom was made from recycled material. A functioning fireplace adds to the coziness of the sunroom. “It’s so wonderful,” says Melissa of the space, which she uses for, among other things, yoga and meditation. “It gets so much light. It’s nice to go in with a cup of tea in the afternoon and relax.”
Renovating an older home is the biggest green commitment a new owner can make. Apparently, the Morris family was up to the challenge. “They have the best of both worlds: an older home that meets all their modern living requirements,” says Templeton.
And it doesn’t really get much better than that.