Welcome to Winsford Cottage, a bright, happy, elegant home that brings a sense of place and a dash of youthful freshness to its serene block in Bryn Mawr. Our clients were a young couple who had just moved from Philadelphia's Society Hill to become first time homeowners in the suburbs. They were expecting their first child, and wanted to make improvements to their new home, a 1935 Tudor. The home had many charming original features but had also suffered some haphazard renovations over the years. The existing layout was extremely compartmentalized with very little flow and connection between the living spaces.
In the existing layout, our clients' side entrance from the driveway led into a good-sized kitchen, with a separate laundry room, and through an enclosed breezeway was a family room housed in what had been the garage. Needless to say, the family room felt disconnected from the kitchen, and the kitchen didn't reflect the style or finish level of the rest of the home.
The living room and sunroom, located on the other side of the house, felt cut off as well. Both rooms were only accessible by walking through the dining room and the front hall.
Our clients were intially interested in solving some of the living area layout challenges, furnishing and decorating and potentially thinking about a kitchen reno, down the road. We began with a thorough discovery phase, worked through multiple layout options and talked in-depth with our clients about their needs and lifestyle and how they hoped to use their space. In the end we settled on no less than a major rework of the existing floorplan plus a great room addition which would house a new kitchen and family room.
Naomi worked her space-planning magic on this floorplan and designed a layout in which the old kitchen/laundry was reworked to be a neatly organized mudroom/laundry room/powder room, plus a new wet bar placed conveniently between the kitchen and dining. This style of house is meant to have rooms, and not to function as one big modern open-concept space. We redesigned the layout to create rooms that were better proportioned, had better flow and improved storage while adding just the right touch of openness to enhance the homes more traditional layout.
In our new design, our clients would enter from the driveway into a mudroom drop zone with a bench, hooks and shoe baskets, plus lots of storage, and a washer and dryer hidden neatly behind folding doors.
Next they would pass through the wet bar and go left for the kitchen or straight into the dining room. We envisioned the wet bar as a little jewelbox to enjoy on frequent trips back and forth between the family wing and entertaining wings of the home. We papered this room in a custom colorway of a beloved Galbraith and Paul wallpaper, which is delightfully mixed with white and blue cabinetry.
Our clients wanted their garage converted back to a home for cars and golf clubs, and we added an entrance from the garage into the new family room to allow for dry entrances and exits on rainy days.
We created better flow in the first floor by adding an arched doorway in the dining room to connect directly to the living room, as well as raising the existing doorway heights for an airier feel.
Dining before Dining with new doorway
After carefully studying township requirements to determine what the limits were for the footprint of the new addition, we finalized construction plans, got our engineers stamp of approval and our GC started demo. Watching new spaces get framed and drywalled was a lot of fun, and we made frequent site visits to check that design details were executed as planned and work through the typical litany of little questions and issues that come up with any renovation.
The mood and color story for the fixtures, finishes and furnishings evolved through lots of creative collaboration with our clients. They wanted a home that felt bright and airy, colorful without being overwhelming. We incorporated nods to Nantucket cottage style but brought them into balance with the home's Main Line roots. The finished designs blend a traditional foundation, with a fresh and youthful spirit that reflected our clients' personalities.
Through our design process we honed in on the right balance of white and color, modern and traditional, making sure to push our clients just a little out of their comfort zone in order to create something unique and exciting that really felt like them.
In the family room we incorporated lots of flexible seating. We added built in banquette seating into the bay window, with storage drawers beneath, and set a petite bistro table and upholstered stools in front of it for morning coffee or an even an ad-hoc zoom-from-home session.
From the area rug to the upholstery, family-friendly was the name of the game for our textile sourcing. We prefer to use materials in our projects that can be easily cleaned with soap and water- or even a bit of diluted bleach- wherever possible, and stain treat anything that isn't already mess-proof.
We designed a classic white kitchen with custom inset cabinetry, a statement range and honed black granite countertops. The island, made in a rich stained wood, adds a layer of contrast. Traditional latch hardware in polished nickel on the white uppers mixed with solid natural brass cup pulls on the island make for a collected, casual feel.
We opted to keep the fixtures and finishes airy and neutral in the kitchen, to create a visual breather beside the more colorful family room. However we didn't want to leave *all* the color behind and sourced a vintage Turkish runner rug that brings a nice pop of color and warmth to the space.
A built-in furniture style pantry with cane inserts in the doors brings more layers of texture and warmth to the kitchen. We just love the hardware detail on the doors of this piece as well! We chose island pendants that were striking in scale but delicate in effect, leaving clear sight lines to the family room from the entrance to the kitchen. The curved shape of the range hood, pendants and bar stools provide a lovely counterpoints to the linear presence of the cabinetry..
In the mudroom we ran a herringbone pattern of tumbled brick tile throughout the space and lined the walls in v-groove beadboard painted a crisp white. To make the most of the space we designed a shallow wall-mounted bench and had it upholstered in a cheerful blue color. Add a worn vintage Turkish rug and a 3/4 height curtain in a colorful block-print and this space becomes is a delightful, and functional landing zone.
Tucked behind a pocket door in this hallway is the new powder room. We papered the upper walls in a fun pattern by Thibault, and continued the beadboard wall treatment around the lower wall. A cane mirror brings lovely natural texture and a brass sconce gives a bit of shine to pair with the brass faucet and towel bar.
The laundry room is a hardworking space with lots of storage and a cute floating island great for detergent storage and laundry folding. Because of the sheer number of doors in this room, we wanted to give each of them special attention to keep the room feeling warm and livable. We comissioned a tall two-tone cabinet for one wall and added statement jute-wrapped iron pulls to the doors.
We opted to wrap the closet doors in the same paneling as the walls to help them disappear visually, and added chunky iron pulls, repeating the metal finish from the adjacent cabinet.
We hid the laundry machines, laundry sink and drying rack behind a pair of bifold doors painted a deep navy. We added glass panels to the top of the doors to allow the light from the existing window to flow into the space, even with the doors closed. Real life is messy, and we try to provide stylish ways of hiding that!
Moving in to the dining room, which is a central pass-through room in this house, we wanted to give it a special dose of whimsy and fun. One of the biggest leaps of faith our clients took with us was in saying yes to wrapping the walls in this playful chinoiserie mural. We commissioned a custom colorway of the paper for them that pulled together all of the accent colors in the adjacent rooms to create one master design moment for the home. We contrasted the paper with a modern animal-spot rug and curvy cane dining chairs.
Something we always take great delight in is the view from room to room in our projects. In this one vista at Winsford Cottage we catch the presence of three different wallpapers, a fun Schumacher ikat shade, and two different styles of cane chair that all manage to coexist in relaxed harmony. An oversized statement mirror crafted of wooden beads helps draw an understated link to our coastal cottage inspiration.
We re-used our clients' existing wall-mount credenza and added an abstract painting between two statement sconces. On a pictural wallpaper like this one, we find that abstract or photographic artwork is usually the best option, letting the wallpaper be the star while adding something special and unique of its own.
Another delightful view in this project is the peek of chinoiserie we get through the new doorway into the living room. We wrapped the living room in a tonal Sister Parish wallpaper which adds a textural layer of pattern to our play of neutrals in this room.
A vintage wingback reupholstered in an indigo shibori print adds a colorful moment to this room, as do throw pillows in the classic GP&J Baker 'Heron and Lotus' printed linen. Velvety green pillows add richness, and a leather ottoman gives the option of comfortable legs-up reading or tv watching.
In addition to adding a doorway in this room we also removed the existing built ins and opted for closed lower cabinetry to allow the natural light to stream in instead. We redesigned the millwork around the fireplace, streamlining and simplifying it, and created a spot above it for our favorite Samsung Frame TV that doubles as art when not in use.
The iconic white sofa has an indisputable place in cottage style, and for our version we chose a neatly tailored skirted one with a slim arm and a bench seat. Most importantly this linen-like fabric is bleach cleanable, making the odds of it staying white and bright that much better.
No Design Manifest project would be complete without the late-game addition of one last room to the scope, and for Winsford Cottage that meant adding the front entry hall to the scope. An original artwork by Valerie Coursen, sourced by Lauren Addis at LAA Collective was a special spark of inspiration in designing this space. We incorporated an antique demilune table passed down from our clients' parents and accented the art with a sleek brass picture light.
We chose another Sister Parish wallpaper for a subtle but fun pattern play in this room. A worn vintage rug picks up muted versions of the colors in the painting, as does the jade green tassle on the light fixture. Add a curvy chest perfect for hats, mittens and scarves and this space is a quiet delight.
Almost a year after our final design presentation our clients are happy and cozy in their new home, their baby is on his feet running around and getting into everything, and we are working on converting the sunroom into a kid-safe playroom. There is talk of expanding the upstairs to allow for a nursery, looking down the road at a potential baby #2. Its such a lovely thing to be part of our clients home-making story as it unfolds. We hope you have enjoyed the tour through this home, we love how it came together and are so pleased to finally be sharing about the process!
Professional Photography by Raquel Langworthy
Build by Buono Construction Group