Call it the big house for china. And glass. And silver. Cocktail napkins and tablecloths. Compotes and cake plates. Samovars and soup tureens. So many of my pretties are in PODS right now—three in total, all of them in a warehouse in central Connecticut. For the past year, ever since we gave up Pine Hill Farm, I’ve been without my props. And a prop stylist without props is like milk without cookies. Daisy without dukes. Puss without Boots. But brighter days lie ahead now that Jaithan and I just bought a house!
It’s a 1920s center hall colonial on the Main Line of Philadelphia, which runs northwest from the city along the historic Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Since the house is located on the perimeter of a part of town where every street is named after a different North American tree, we’ve decided to call it Edgewood Hall. The house isn’t grand, but its style and symmetry give it a stateliness I love. In fact, something tells me it’s an old Sears Roebuck home the original owners modified, but we’ll know for sure soon enough. Most of the homes Sears designed were simple but built to last with fine millwork, hard woods and copper piping. You can see the resemblance to one of the styles in the original catalog.
Neither of us has family ties to the Main Line but fell in love with the area after shooting a house there for Better Homes and Gardens last fall. As much as I enjoyed our little cape in Connecticut, I like a smidge more city with my country. Just outside Philly, there’s terrain (the gourd-geous home and garden store in Glen Mills), artsy fundraising events like a Date with a Plate (remember this pink-and-orange number?) and King of Prussia Mall, one of the best in the country where our friends at Ballard just opened a store (Lilly Pulitzer sample sale, anyone?). It all adds up to a charming getaway where we can shop, prop, dine and design a house our way—finally! Here’s what the exterior looked like in the 70s shortly after the most recent owner bought it.
And here’s a glimpse of the interiors today.
From the front door down the main hall and up the stairs, there’s peeling wallpaper over a chair rail and paneling probably installed in the 50s. The balusters, handrail and newel post are in great condition, but that carpeting has got to go! Although I love seeing all the original moldings from the living room through the entryway and into the dining room, the floors are worn through in a mishmash of stains.
Walking through the house, you’ll notice wallpaper in every nook, cranny and closet. This whimsical print in the downstairs powder room was a hit on Instagram (“Are you keeping that fabulous wallpaper?!”), but it looks to be in much better condition than it is. Still, I’d love to save bits and pieces for a project giving these cute little critters new life.
The most recent owner was a collector after my own heart. After moving in, she kept all of the original wallpaper, adding this simple gingham in the kitchen to complement her prized blue-and-white ware.
In every sconce, switch, keyhole and door knob, you can see—and touch—this house’s history.
Up the stairs we go…
…to dueling views across the hall from the two front bedrooms.
Between them, at the very center of the house, an earlier owner installed this bathroom, darkening the hall completely. I have dreams of turning this area into a cozy nook lined with books that inspire me and a bench for reading, doodling and staring out the window.
For years, this house has been filled with books that were loved, read and re-read by its owner—a retired teacher who, with her late husband, raised two children here.
When Jaithan and I gave her a copy of our own book, she knew we’d love her home just as much as she had.
And now that winter has passed, the snow melted, another chapter begins…