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Bryn Mawr Colonial provides refuge and comfort during the pandemic

“Coming out of the cramped apartment, I loved the space and privacy of the home,” says homeowner Erica Brown.

Cole and Erica Brown, with daughters Iyla, 3, and Ever, 2, are enjoying the space, privacy, and yard of their 6,000-square-foot Colonial in Bryn Mawr.
Cole and Erica Brown, with daughters Iyla, 3, and Ever, 2, are enjoying the space, privacy, and yard of their 6,000-square-foot Colonial in Bryn Mawr.Read moreEd Hille / Ed Hille

Cole and Erica Brown were among many homeowners looking for a new house during the pandemic. Moving from a Center City apartment, they wanted a home within their budget with room for their two little girls to play, enough space for a guest room and home office, and in close proximity to Philadelphia. The process was especially difficult in the frenetic housing market.

“COVID really accelerated our search,” recalled Cole, who works in biotech. “I didn’t have an office, so I was working in the living room, with two kids who wanted to be with Dad running in and out. But we had such trouble finding a house that met what we were looking for.”

So last July, when they found a 6,000-square-foot Colonial in Bryn Mawr with a lush yard, stone facade, and five bedrooms, it felt like home.

“The house has an open concept, which was very important to me,” said Erica, a family physician. “Coming out of the cramped apartment, I loved the space and privacy of the home.”

The house was move-in ready. Their only renovation was combining an existing bedroom with their primary suite to create a walk-in closet. But they needed to refresh the decor, starting by painting over the banana yellow walls.

Choosing the right paint color was tricky because Erica loves color and Cole is more muted. So they hired designer Christina Henck, owner and senior designer at Henck Design in Queen Village, to update the decor into a classic transitional style that they would both enjoy. They settled on calming grayish blues — Sherwin Williams “Distance” in the bedroom and “Software Gray” in the living room. The dining room wallpaper is a creamy white and ivory pattern.

“We had some fun with incorporating traditional prints and ikat, an Indonesian dying technique,” Henck said. “Luxe window treatments were a big deal in the design. We used traditional roman shades in the [primary] bedroom, draperies in almost every room of the house, relaxed roman shades everywhere that we didn’t use draperies, and sometimes we even used both draperies and roman shades in conjunction with each other.”

» READ MORE: West Philly condo proves perfect for downsizing and the pandemic

The couple enjoys collecting art, generally modern, which adds color and texture to the decor. One of their favorite pieces in the dining room has four panels with golden feathers, which complements the fabric in their custom wingback dining room chairs.

One of their favorite pastimes is hanging out in their home theater, snuggled into the cozy sectional couch, munching on fresh popcorn from their own machine. Cole often watches movies with his father when he comes to visit, something the pair did while Cole was growing up. He’s passed that love down to his daughters.

“It was always one of my dreams to have a theater room where I could watch movies with my kids,” Cole said. “We recently watched Soul, Raya and the Last Dragon, and we watched Frozen and Frozen 2 a couple of times.”

Said Erica: “We also use it for Friday date nights when we’ll put the kids to bed and go down and watch a movie together.”

Their primary bedroom with an en suite bathroom features a king-size four-post bed, something they always wanted.

“Every weekend, because we can sleep in and don’t have to rush out to work, we’ll have the kids come in, give them a little breakfast snack, and we’ll all watch cartoons together in the bed,” Erica said. “We all love it.”

Erica is in the process of creating a “glam room” for herself in the sitting area nearby. The dedicated space will feature a vanity desk, sofa and storage.

“It’s mostly an area where I can get dressed and do my hair and makeup, maybe hang out and have a glass of wine and relax,” Erica said. “Everyone needs a little ‘she’ space away from the kids, without toys everywhere, without your husband bugging you. Just a little retreat for myself.”

» READ MORE: An 1848 Colonial transformed for 21st-century living in Delaware County

The home sits at the end of a long driveway, surrounded by evergreens, which offers the family privacy. They enjoy spending time outdoors, watching the girls play in the yard on the acre lot. Nestled into a hill, the home has a walkout basement that leads to the stone patio.

“The kids love going outside. We can’t get them to come back in,” Erica said. “We have a grill and a beautiful stone fire pit that will be great for entertaining. It’s very scenic.”

The Browns appreciate the safety of their quiet, scenic neighborhood.

“Sometimes we just stand outside or go on drives — it’s just a very beautiful area to be in,” Erica said.

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