Stacy Dutton and her husband, Mark Cunneen, were introduced to the Main Line as graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School back in the 1980s. While many of their classmates remained in the area and set up house in the suburbs, their careers in finance took them to New York. More than 15 years later, Mark’s transfer to Berwyn brought them back to the area they so admire. “I love Philadelphia, and I love the Main Line,” says Dutton. “It’s such a beautiful area. I’m envious of the people who settled here right after school.”
Although the couple appreciates historic homes, they decided on new construction while house hunting back in 2005. She’d been through the process before with a home in New York, so the idea of new construction wasn’t daunting. And the roster of acclaimed builders and architects on the Main Line made the decision even easier. They chose Chip Vaughan’s Shaker-style, Spring House custom home, choosing a property on a quiet street in Villanova. Another perk: “This area is so affordable compared to the home prices in New York,” says Dutton.
Of highest priority for the couple: a library that could double as a home office. Dutton had definite ideas on how she wanted the space designed. She refrained from putting in a fireplace, opting instead for a surplus of floor-to-ceiling shelves. “My emphasis was more on functionality rather than fireside chats,” says Dutton. “My husband and I are big readers, and we have lots of books.”
And Dutton knew the exact linear footage required to house all their books. “They thought I was asking for too much space,” she says. “But I was able to fill every shelf.”
And since both she and her husband would be using the room, the decor had to be cozy without being too masculine or feminine. Dutton had the advantage of bringing in an interior designer whom she trusted implicitly—her sister, Christina Dutton—to consult on every decision. Based in Washington, D.C., Christina works on residential home design with clients throughout the East Coast. “My sister helped me with my last home in New York,” Dutton says.
It was Christina’s idea to marry crimson cashmere drapes with the Williamsburg Blue paint on the library walls. The colors were pulled from a Serapi Persian rug on the floor. Along with a couch and two side chairs in Brunschwig & Fils fabric, a custom-made Heart Pine desk completes the room. “It came out exactly the way I wanted it to,” says Dutton. “My husband and I fight over who uses this room.”
The living room is the first thing greeting guests when they come in the front door, so Dutton wanted it to be inviting. An apricot shade covers a silk couch and love seat, brightening the formal space. “Silk was probably not the most practical fabric choice for a family with two boys,” says Dutton. “But I’ve been blessed with children who don’t spill things.”
The silk fabric is repeated in the curtains. In front of the fireplace is a pair of Art Deco-style vintage chairs in an apricot-peach hue, with two others done in a floral fabric nearby.
Faux painter Dey Kyper covered the walls with a six-layer, custom-tinted, -burnished and -polished Venetian plaster in a soft gold finish. The air of formality in the living room flows nicely into the dining room. As a house-warming present, Dutton’s mother passed down her dining room table and Philadelphia-style chairs, made at the turn of the last century to go with the Asian-inspired 1870s American buffet. A silvered, antique brass chandelier hangs above the table, while watercolors from Dutton’s collection are found above the buffet. The home’s open floor plan meant Dutton had to be more conservative in the kitchen. “Since it opens up to the family room, I had to pick counter tops and cabinets that went well with fabrics that I chose for the family room,” she says.
A soft, creamy white finish—dubbed Judy Kling White after the well-known interior designer from the area—was used for the cabinets. “When you have this much cabinetry in a space I think you need to be careful that it’s not too overwhelming,” says Dutton.
The large center island is the color of pale green Spanish moss; it’s topped with light green granite. Five-inch-wide red oak floors bring a darker contrast to the otherwise light and airy kitchen. “To me, the darker woods look elegant,” Dutton says. “That’s what I was aiming for: a more elegant, older appearance. When you have a brand new house and you don’t necessarily want it to look that way, you try a few things that won’t feel as new.”
The interior of the home’s lower level was customized in a drastically different way than the main living spaces. Displays of Red Sox and Yankees memorabilia can be found throughout the room, and the distressed leather chairs and couch give the space a clubby feel. Pool and foosball tables get plenty of use from the Dutton kids and their friends. “We made it into a fun recreational area for my sons and husband,” says Dutton of her sports-obsessed family.
One son is such an intense hockey fan that Dutton called in faux expert Brian Holden to paint the floor of his bedroom to look like a hockey rink.
“At first, I cringed every time he taped pictures from Sports Illustrated on his wall,” Dutton confesses. “But I got over it. We can always repaint when he goes off to college.”
Builder: Chip Vaughan, Vaughan & Sautter Builders, 347 E. Conestoga Road, Wayne; (610) 964-1813, vaughanbuilders.com
Interior Design: Christina Dutton Interiors, 5017 Tilden St. NW, Washington, D.C., (202) 686-3500.
Faux Painting: Dey Kyper, Trans Faux Mation, Downingtown, (610) 269-9977; Brian Holden, Silver Leaf Design Studios, Kemblesville, (610) 255-3675.
Tile: Devon Tile & Design Studio, 111 E. Lancaster Ave., Devon; (610) 687-3368, devontile.com