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Step Inside: Haverford Carriage House - A Tour of Timeless Luxury and Impeccable Design

How would it feel if coming home was like stepping into the boutique hotel of your dreams? Our lucky clients at the Haverford Carriage House know, and by all reports it is as good or even better than they dreamed.

Living Room before

We left off in our last post with an overview of the architectural re- design and an in-depth look at the kitchen design of this project. In this post we're going to dive into the design concept and details of the open-plan living/sitting/dining room.

The main room of this 1900's carriage house was a big selling point when our clients first set eyes on it.

The wide open space, central fireplace, original ceiling beams and deep windowsills had such charm, and so much potential. Our clients love entertaining, and requested we incorporate their 10 foot dining table into our design for big dinner parties. They loved having a fireplace but lamented that no one ever sat by it. The living room, located by the front door, is the first space guests are welcomed into and they wanted it to make an impact.

We designed this open concept room to have three distinct seating areas each with their own moments of beauty, with the goal being that the whole first floor was inviting, luxe, and set up for entertaining lots of friends, families, kids, and kids' friends.

Initial inspiration research

Our client was absolutely enchanted by the interior design of the Fife Arms in Scotland, and had had a bucket list 40th birthday trip there planned, only to have it cancelled by the Covid pandemic. We incorporated the sense of history and whimsy that she so loved from this hotel into our concept for the house, adding in elements and flavors such as strikingly modern lighting and wallpaper to the mix. Our clients loved the idea of a dark, moody room that opened up to progressively lighter and brighter spaces, and we decided to embrace the dark side in the living room, which was the naturally less well lit side of the house.

We chose Newburgh Green, a deep blue/green from the Benjamin Moore historical collection to drench the walls in the living room. New whole-house HVAC was required for this project, and the ducts in this open room are placed within soffits that run around the ceiling perimeter of the room. With no basement in this house, all utilities had to find a place within the living spaces. We opted to paint the soffits out in the same deep color to help them blend in to the walls.

The standout elements in this area are the twin sofas upholstered in a Liberty of London floral velvet. The fabric just glows and shimmers with a range of colors, and the way it pops against the dark walls is perfection. We really wanted to be sure to balance the whimsical and rich against the classical and bright elements in this design, so the living room is grounded in a beautiful neutral hand-knotted wool rug that has slight natural variations in its coloring.

Lack of storage was a major complaint in the 'before' of this living room, and with that in mind we added a built-in bench with storage drawers that spans from the fireplace to the front wall and topped it with a super luxurious top-grain leather tufted cushion. This added storage, seating, and a more masculine, tailored element to the room.

In another bid to add the storage we also used the new soffits to mount ceiling-hung bookshelves to house part of our clients extensive art and coffee table book collection. Cozy pillows in a mix of patterns on the built in bench create a collected, layered look. Though our clients 5-year-old loves to use their bespoke ball pillow as a soccer ball, we're proud to report that due to the high quality of its make it is holding up well.

Though this seating area is not the primary tv-watching room in the house, our clients did want a tv in the space. We moved the tv away from its original location blocking the small living room windows and placed it perpendicular to the sofas over a stunning metal-clad credenza. An art light sconce hung over the Frame TV helps enhance the illusion that the TV is a painting, however the sconce also provdes pleasant mid level lighting for when there is a spread on the credenza for guests. Our clients have discovered they like to lay on the sofas like chaises to watch tv and tell us that they do use the space for tv watching much more often than anticipated because it's just so enjoyable to be in.

One of the most important requests our clients made was to improve the lighting in the main room, which we approached in zones. We selected brass-accented pendant lights that look just like jewelry for along the stair wall, creating a well lit pathway from front door to back door.

The living room area is centered around the bold, bauhaus-inspired chandelier that our client was in love with from first sight, and in this reflected view from living to dining you can see one of the two showstopper chandeliers hung over the dining table.

Tucked behind the blue door to the right of the TV is a little jewel box of a powder room. We wrapped this room in a scenic blue wallpaper in the same hue as the living room walls and designed a beautifully detailed console sink with rich oak wood and a curved marble backsplash.

Because this space is open-concept, all the parts have to speak to one another while adding layers to the design story. The black and brass finishes from the living room chandelier take new shape in the pendant light that centers the fireside seating. The more traditional sconces on the fireplace evoke the story of an old home that has had different eras of design evolve within it.

The fireplace itself got a major glow up in the renovation. We used the same millwork details from the stair wall and repeated them on the fireplace, creating an oak mantle and paneling that had the weight and feel of history that our clients wanted to imbue into their home. We chose a tile surround also gives a nod to Victorian style, with an embossed, dimensional ceramic 4x4 in a subtly crackled glaze.

Material concept for the fireside seating area

The set of 4 matching swivel chairs in a gorgeous wool plaid help to transition the room visually from the richer, darker tones of the living room into the bright sunny dining room. A moroccan tray table gives a layered feel to the furnishings. The install of this fireplace was one of the standout moments of the renovation, with our clients marveling that it looked like it had always been there.

Fireplace before, during, and final install

With that, the fireside has become a warm, inviting place for people to linger, play games together and talk. When we popped by on a recent visit, we were delighted to see a chess set on the table... perfect for fireside fun!

From the fireplace, the eye travels over to the pearlescent wallpaper waves that encompass the dining room. The paper for this room was an absolutely crucial element in the design- it has the feeling of an antique marbled book-end paper but is modern and even a little psychedelic at the same time. As it happened, antique marbled endpapers are a particular love of our client's, and she collects them. It was love at first sight when she saw this wallpaper sample, and then a tizzy of procurement nightmares before we managed to secure the last 5 rolls of this paper that had been produced, shipping half of them over from England.

The dining table is presided over by two vintage rattan armchairs and two crown-like brass chandeliers. Buying vintage for clients can take quick communication and a lot of trust, and thankfully we had that with these clients and were able to score these head chairs that were in fantastic condition. We love the unique shape and character they had, and they felt completely right for the rich, eclectic mood of this project.

To keep the sight lines open in the room we opted for an upholstered bench on one side of the dining table. The deep rusty red velvet fabric is another element that helps bring the deeper color story over to this side of the main room, as does the worn vintage turkish rug by the back door.

Folded into this fabulous dining room is a bar cabinet and a set of brass and glass bar shelves. We love how the simple pale oak finish on the bar cabinet is styled with brass feet and curves that strike the perfect balance of design elements. The wallpaper is allowed to be the star here, but the furnishings play a strong supporting part.

One final note of designer/client kismet came when we presented this pair of gilded horse prints to our clients for this room. She began laughing and said they were perfect, and that she loved to scare the kids by talking about the 'ghost horses' that lived in the carriage house every time the old house creaked and settled.

These gilded 'ghost' horses preside over the new home now, an echo of the homes past brought perfectly into the modern day.

Stay tuned for our final installment of Haverford Carriage House where we share the brand new second and third floors!

Photography by Rebecca McAlpin

Architectural design, decoration and project management by Design Manifest


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