The New Hampshire House

Montco Homes, Gardens, & Lifestyle

Beth S. Buxbaum

01 November 2016

A classic Walter K. Durham is the focus of an extensive renovation. Built in 1942, this Durham original in Gladwyne was named “The New Hampshire House.” With time the house's interior became dated and drab. The current owners have refreshed the interior over the years, but more recently they were ready for a complete transformation.

The owners commissioned Meadowbank Designs, located in Wayne, PA, to redesign and reappoint the interior. Laura Buchner and Kirsten McCoy, the owners of the design house, collaborated on this project, to orchestrate the home's interior facelift. “In working closely with the owners, our intent was to create a more updated legacy to Walter Durham's original New Hampshire house,” explains Laura, “the house needed to be redesigned to today's standards of living.” This project was not a simple updating with new wall colors and window treatments.

Familiar with the owners and the house from a 30-year relationship, Lauren and Kristen have done work in most of the rooms in the house over the years. “We have redone, updated or tweaked this home's interior many times,” Kristen adds. With this project they worked with Peter Archer, of Archer & Buchanan Architecture, LTD, during the reconstruction. “The house was totally gutted,” Laura adds, “down to the studs, and we were there from the beginning of the construction.” Laura and Kirsten redid the interior of the house from top to bottom.

During the renovation, Peter Archer's goal was to complement, rather than mimic, the home's historic features. Archer and Buchanan, known for their restorations and designs, strive to preserve the heritage. As practitioners of style, much of their work draws inspiration from the extraordinary turn-of-the-century homes designed by notables like Walter Durham. In this renovation3.2 they worked with the timeless elements of the original architecture, while creating a living space for today's family. Laura explains, “Peter Archer rearranged some rooms, actually shifting the home's interior flow, while still being respectful of the original architecture. “ The library was originally the living room and the kitchen was in the older section of the house and was redone in the addition. Whether they were shifting rooms or reappointing spaces, the goal was to maintain and complement the original architecture.

Laura and Kirsten collaborated with Peter Archer on the renovation. “We assisted with the space planning, color selection and room appointment,” Kirsten adds, “and we had a design scheme for each room.” They explain that the house's interior signature was more rustic before, with a Colonial style that was farmhouse inspired. “The decor was dated and not functionally working for the homeowners anymore,” Laura adds, “so we changed the house drastically.” Their goal was to create an interior that still had traditional architecture and styling with a more modern appointment. Laura explains that the owners wanted it to be a more family-oriented home. “We were going for less formal, not a gallery setting, nothing off limits like a museum; but something livable, warm and inviting,” Kirsten describes. She explains that the owners were involved in the process and knew what they wanted and were onboard with their overall design schemata. “The owner loves the process and has a great eye.” Laura adds, “He enjoys the arts and love his antiques.”

Warm and inviting spaces were the desired outcome, along with rooms designed to showcase the owners’ English antique furnishings. To achieve this warmth the first element was a change in the color palette. “There are no white walls,” Laura points out. Also, she believes that colors welcome people in. Their use of color and the color combinations added that warm, welcoming feel and were selected to showcase the array of antique furnishings. “We used Wedgewood blue, pale yellow, raspberry pink and other warm neutrals, “Laura explains, “ that are not only welcoming but are cheerful, happy colors. The living room is awash in a cheerful yellow and in the kitchen the wall application was done in a grass cloth. “Grass cloth adds a warm color tone and texture,” Laura continues.

Warm, inviting colors extend into the dining room with a hand-painted mural by local artist, David Posey. This panoramic wall mural of historic Gladwyne was done in a primitive style to complement the time period the house replicates. “This was the perfect room to do this.” Laura explains, “As people are sitting, their eyes can travel around the room and read a story. It also eliminates the need for artwork.” The landscape is dotted with rolling hills and old farmhouses and is interspersed with the soapstone quarry, library, hardware store and greenhouse. It has all the elements of the center of the historic town from decades ago. Continuing with the theme of historic, the dining room is appointed with a collection of antiques. For a more formal dining experience, the Hepplewhite mahogany dining table, circa 1780, is central to the space. In the left corner is an English George III mahogany bow-fronted sideboard circa 1790. Along one wall is a pair of Chippendale chairs flanking a drop-leaf table with an antique silver set. All these pieces are accented by the striking wall mural. Another striking decor element is in view in the new kitchen.

Appointed in varying shades of blue, the new kitchen, relocated to the addition from the original section of the house, was designed to create a real cook's kitchen. Both homeowners love to cook and use every inch of their new kitchen. Designed by Joanne Hudson, this expansive space is appointed with a large center island topped with granite. All the cabinetry has been painted blue with a distressed finish to give the feel of aged wood. An impressive collection of pots and pans hang above on a custom pot rack that Laura designed. Laura explains that it had to be custom-made due to its size and how it had to be hung on the ceiling beams. Behind the island is the cook top with a grayish-blue ceramic tile backsplash. Window treatments in shades of cream and blue, in a French toile floral motif, pull the room's decor together.

New colors and textures were added to refresh and enliven the remaining first floor living spaces. In the family room, part of the addition done by Venuti Construction, the wainscoting and trim were painted a neutral Colonial shade and the walls are covered in grass cloth adding more warmth and texture. A step down from the kitchen, this room was redone with an eye for family comfort with a more country feel. An inviting sitting area with oversized chairs in floral and striped fabrics surround an Alfonso Marina cocktail table. This area is finished with neutral-toned carpet.

In the library, which was originally the living room, the appointments are in rich, dark wood tones. English wing chairs in navy mohair velvet are arranged by the fire. In the center of the room is a Victorian marquetry inlaid walnut table on a carved dolphin-shaped base. Wood accents abound with built-in bookcases and a mahogany mantel that is a reproduction piece created by Peter Archer. This space has a distinctively different feel from the rest of the house and is filled with the owner's historical books and other reading material. Also a departure is the office. Created years ago, this space was once a patio. The floors are the original brick floors. A French armoire stands against one wall. On display along the back wall is a display of the owner's sports memorabilia including a framed baseball card collection. Standing next to the armoire is Poncho the cowboy, a piece of chain-saw art purchased at a Philadelphia gallery. This office is another area that was filled with the owner's collections and is a favorite resting spot.

Favorite spots are what this renovation was all about. In collaboration with Peter Archer, Laura and Kirsten refreshed the interior living space to add more comfort and function. “We accented and furnished every room, for updated livability,” adds Laura. After the facelift this original Walter Durham still has all the architectural elements that are his signature, with an added sense of warmth and approachability for today's standards of living.

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