Beth Hixson remembers that when her husband, Marc, drove her to the weed-choked, tumbledown 1950s rancher in Devon, “I would not get out of the car.”
It was 2009, and Marc had spotted the house online. With a rectangular acre lot, it would have room for a garden, patio, and outdoor play area for their growing family, which then included an infant, a toddler, and a dog. But Beth wanted to live on the Main Line, where she grew up.
“I saw in my head what the house could become,” Marc said.
With determination, he convinced Beth that his vision could become reality. And it did, although it took eight years for the 1,000-square-foot residence to more than quadruple in size and become the house they wanted.
After replacing siding, cutting back weeds, and painting, the Hixsons lived for the first four years in the original house with its warren of small rooms. There was no insulation, and the windows were old, so the place was cold and drafty. Beth’s family thought they were crazy for buying what her mother nicknamed “the sugar shack.”
Marc’s family was more understanding. His father was a contractor who had rebuilt a house in Media and inspired his son to do the same.
Renovations to the “sugar shack” were delayed by the birth of the couple’s second daughter and the launch of Marc’s consulting firm.
Finally, in 2013, the Hixsons hired Weaver Construction in Lancaster to initiate Phase I of Marc’s plan: an addition that included a great room, kitchen, mudroom, laundry, powder room, and two-car garage. Marc’s brother-in-law, Kevin McGinnis, designed the spacious kitchen and built the slate blue cabinetry there and in the mudroom. In 2015, a new basement was dug out with high ceilings to create an airy playroom for the children.
The Hixsons were able to remain in the house during early renovations, but when the roof was raised in February 2017, they had to decamp to an apartment with their three children and two dogs. Work was completed in August of that year. “I wanted it to be finished before school reopened,” Beth said.
A central staircase opens onto a TV lounge on the second-floor landing furnished with giant fur pillows and a latticed rope swing. There are two bedrooms and an adjoining bath for daughters Ainsley, 9, and Maeve, 7, and a bedroom and bath for son Chace, 10.
The master suite on the first floor features a bathroom with two vessel sinks. A former bedroom and bath became an office suite for Marc. The original kitchen space is another space for the children, Beth said.
New windows, insulation, heating, and air conditioning systems have been installed.
Attractive woods are used throughout the home, such as red oak floors, reclaimed barn-wood paneling in the basement, hemlock beams from Amish suppliers for the vaulted ceilings in the great room and second-floor landing, and cedar shake siding on the exterior of the house.
Early on, the Hixsons acquired a dining table fashioned from old barn beams and stained white. It seats 16. Nearby, ornately carved aqua doors flank one of the house’s three fireplaces.
To furnish the great room, Beth had assistance from neighbor Larina Kase, an interior designer. The women chose pale gray sofas and an area rug and two magenta upholstered armchairs. Kase introduced Beth to Merritt Gallery in Haverford, where Beth purchased several colorful expressionist portraits by Charles Dwyer.
Kase helped Ainsley choose a canopy bed draped in pink. Maeve’s headboard is festooned with pink flowers and birds. Aqua bird-printed wallpaper covers the ceiling. The same birds paper the powder room. Chace’s bedroom and Marc’s office are painted a deep blue. The Oriental rug in Marc’s office was pricey, “but he’s worth it,” Beth said.
The last phase of Marc’s plan, a brick patio and a winding brick pathway, was completed in 2017.
With the arrival of spring, the family can be outside, shooting balls into the basketball hoop or soccer net, swinging or sliding on the playground equipment, romping with the dogs, and gardening.
In nice weather, Marc, 42, and Beth, 39, have hosted parties for more than 100 guests, inviting family and friends who once doubted that Marc’s vision would ever become a reality.
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