Striking a Balance

Entry:Foyer-AfterWhen McGrath Interiors began this project on a two-year old home in West Chester, the first impression I got was that there was a dichotomy between the formalness of the house, and the relaxed, updated feel that the clients wanted to achieve.  This young couple enjoys the outdoors, specifically the beach, and their desire was to keep the look of the house light and airy, and bring the outdoors in as much as possible.

Since the foyer is the central part of this home and the most formal with it’s fluted columns and dramatic staircase, our changes here maintained the formal look while making it welcoming too.  We installed a five foot diameter marble medallion into the wood floor.  The single front door was changed out to a custom French double door with waterfall privacy glass and a wrought iron scroll design which mimics the design in the medallion.  Shadow boxes were designed and installed on the upper walls, chair rail and shadow boxes added to the lower portions of the walls, and a crystal chandelier replaced the existing one.  New sconces light up the staircase, and a new patterned carpet replaced the “builder grade” tan one.  The walls were painted with a color that was little darker and warmer to contrast the white woodwork more and work with the existing yellows.

Foyer Walls Before

Upper Foyer Walls-Before

Foyer Walls:Chand.









Foyer Before




Foyer Steps





Stairs from above

Front Door Before

Front Door-Before

Front Doors-After

Front Doors-After

The formal dining room already had furniture, a rug, and paint.  We just reworked the far wall, moving the oval mirror to the angled wall and adding sconces and a picture.  We also changed out the chandelier for a more glamorous “first impression” and to make it higher to conceal the fact that the picture and sconces on the far wall are not centered on the rest of the room.

Din. Rm. Before

Dining Room-Before

Dining Room-After

Dining Room-After

In the living room, we added a bench to the wall opposite the curved sofa to create more of a conversation area.  The weathered gray finish and baskets keep it more “beachy”, while the faux fur adds an unexpected fun aspect.  Three sconces were also added to balance the lighting.  We always put sconces on a dimmer, providing flexibility so that the light output can go from bright, to subtle and moody, depending on the desired effect for the circumstances.

LR Before

Living Room-Before

Living Room-After

Living Room-After

We also added chair rail and shadow boxes to the powder room, painted white, and installed wall paper above.  More lighting was needed, so a small glass beaded fixture was installed in the ceiling.

Powder Room-After

Powder Room-After

Perhaps the most challenging part of this project was adding a coffered ceiling to the 19-foot high ceiling in the family room.  Because it was so high, the coffers had to be deep—these are 12”—so they weren’t lost in the volume of the space.  Painted white, the coffers add a wonderful, finished feel to the room.  We also had to deal with the vast amount of wall space on the fireplace wall.  We designed a stone and wood surround that would be simple in detail to offset the fluted trim on the windows, yet soar to just a few feet off of the ceiling for drama, and to draw the eye upwards.  A matching custom built-in was installed in the tv recess.  A grouping of family photos fills the remainder of the wall, and a blue and cream rug provides warmth and an anchor to the sectional.

Fam. Rm. FP Before

Family Room-Before

Family Room-After

Family Room-After

Sitting Area-Fam. Rm.

Sitting Area-Family Room

Fam. Rm.-Ceiling Det.

Coffered Ceiling

In the kitchen, we added new, formal pendants above the island, and on the windows installed white wood blinds.  The client wanted a custom valance that would keep the light and airy feel of the house, so we found a patterned sheer that they liked, and added glass beaded trim to the edges for an interesting and beautiful detail.  Here in the kitchen, as in each room of the house, we worked hard to strike a balance between a traditional/formal style, and a beachy/casual/contemporary style by bringing in elements of both, but carefully evaluating each piece to make sure it fit in with the other design elements and achieved the overall desired effect.





Light Detail

Light Detail

B-Fast Before

Breakfast Room-Before

Breakfast Rm.-After

Breakfast Room-After

Valance Detail

Window treatment detail


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