Colorful Colonial-Style Home

Designer Alan Metcalfe turned a Colonial-style family home into a colorful showplace through custom light fixtures and art installations, including ones that feature personal collectibles and artifacts.

Classic Foyer Features Fun Splashes of Vibrant Color

Classic Foyer Features Fun Splashes of Vibrant Color

Colorful custom wallpaper pairs with a custom chandelier to make a striking first impression in this home's foyer. The vivid colors enliven the space and offset the home's traditional architecture.

Photo by: Sam Oberter Photography

Sam Oberter Photography

What did your clients want?

They wanted a larger house so that they could better accommodate their extended families. They also wanted a strong palette reflecting their love of bright color and a flexible floorplan that allowed for easy entertaining. They wanted bedrooms for their two teenage girls that reflected each girl’s personality and felt removed from their parents’ world. They also wanted a new entry reorienting the focus to the back of the house and garage; the front door is now ceremonial leftover.

What inspired this home’s style?

Travel and history: the mother is a geography teacher who has travelled extensively. She has a collection of globes and artifacts from the countries she has visited, including brightly colored African artifacts. Our design used her collection as a focus. Our plans worked in concert with her collection, providing boldly colored backgrounds for the displays throughout the house. We worked with interior designer Val Nehez to create a personal color palette and a series of altered photographs using the same palette that spoke to the family’s histories and stories.

How did you work bold colors into the design?

The base background colors are whites. Punches of color attract attention without dominating the experience. One of the keys to selecting appropriate bold colors is to avoid the primary colors found in a crayon box. We chose a strong palette, which you can see in the chandelier’s subtle yellow, purple and aqua glass globes.

What colors did you focus on?

Reds and yellows, which create a warmth that can accommodate less-dominant foreground colors.

What was your favorite room to design?

Contemporary Kitchen Boasts Bold Shots of Color

Contemporary Kitchen Boasts Bold Shots of Color

A fire engine red island pairs with a colorful 3-D artwork installation to bring this contemporary kitchen to life. White walls, shelves, cabinets and a white range hood keep the space feeling bright and open.

Photo by: Sam Oberter Photography

Sam Oberter Photography

Our favorite was the kitchen and dining room area. We created a new kitchen entry at the rear of the house to lead people through the kitchen, making it a vibrant social space. The brightly colored kitchen is separated from the dining room by a visually permeable partition, allowing the cooks to socialize.

The terrace was my other favorite space to design. We created a new, tiny entry to the kitchen and cut a 10-foot-wide French door into the living room. They both open onto the sunny backyard and terrace and provide a focal point from the interior living space.

The staircase was the most difficult space to design. We designed a custom chandelier that spans three stories and attracts your attention to visually pull you into the rest of the house. Creating a series of vignettes, like an art display and the multicolored globe display, along the staircase in conjunction with this custom-fabricated light fixture proved complex.

Colorful Chandelier Illuminates Traditional Stairway

Colorful Chandelier Illuminates Traditional Stairway

A stunning tiered chandelier illuminates this open staircase from top to bottom. The custom light fixture features glass pendants in bold, vivid colors, lending spunk and pizzazz to the classic stairway.

Photo by: Sam Oberter Photography

Sam Oberter Photography

Why did you paint the stairway bookcase cubbies?

The strong individual colors of the cubbies work in concert with the more subtle colors of the hanging lights.

What’s your favorite part of this design?

The best thing is that it can accommodate many people when entertaining. I also like how personal the design is to the family. Val Nehez spent lots of time looking at family photos, enlarging them, coloring them and turning them into art pieces. The rugs and ceramic fireplace surround were based on the husband’s fourth-grade artwork. This kind of attention to detail makes a home special.

My favorite element is the “surprise” splash of red under the kitchen hood. You only see it from a low angle, and it makes me smile every time I come across it.

Why did you choose the chandelier for the entryway?

We saw it as a mysterious punch of color that pulled your eye up. We designed it and had it fabricated by a local craftsperson.

How did you get the idea to use bread tags in the kitchen?

Colorful Bread Tag Art Piece Wows in Funky Kitchen

Colorful Bread Tag Art Piece Wows in Funky Kitchen

This funky kitchen features a unique 3-D installation of colorful bread tags. The installation, called Celebrate the Uncelebrated and designed by Paul Schultz, adds a bold splash of whimsy to the space.

Photo by: Sam Oberter Photography

Sam Oberter Photography

The homeowner found artist Paul Schultz’s work at her children’s school and loved it. Schultz is interested in the identities and lives of anonymous people. He created “Celebrate the Uncelebrated,” an assembly of bread bag tags that are sandwiched between layers of Lexan. Each colorful tag is different and has an expiration date (just like humans), yet their sum is a captivating whole.

What makes this project uniquely yours?

Most of our projects have strong colors. We are contemporary designers, so we favor a sleek style. Many of our staff started as carpenters and woodworkers, so our work tends to focus on natural materials and practical solutions to problems. The wood counters and slate floors reflect this ethos.

What tips do you have for using color?

I like more subdued colors in rooms. I also prefer less fad-driven, short-lived choices except where the materials can be changed out after you tire of them. For example, bold colors and pattern should be applied to paint and wallpaper, not tile and toilets.

What “hidden gems” are in your design?

The hidden gem for me was the dialogue that went on between my clients about the design of this house. They really worked together beautifully.

Contemporary Kitchen Boasts Bold Shots of Color

A fire engine red island pairs with a colorful 3-D artwork installation to bring this contemporary kitchen to life. White walls, shelves, cabinets and a white range hood keep the space feeling bright and open.

Colorful Bread Tag Art Piece Wows in Funky Kitchen

This funky kitchen features a unique 3-D installation of colorful bread tags. The installation, called Celebrate the Uncelebrated and designed by Paul Schultz, adds a bold splash of whimsy to the space.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

Contemporary Dining Room With High-Gloss Red Accent Wall

A fire engine red accent wall with a high-gloss, lacquered finish invigorates this contemporary dining room. Smaller splashes of color in the accent table and dining chairs add variation to the space's bold, vivid color palette.

Funky Blue Fireplace Surround Pairs With Classic White Mantel

A bold, vivid shade of royal blue surrounds the fireplace in this striking living room. The blue surround provides a lovely contrast — in both color and style — to the traditional white mantel.

Classic Foyer Features Fun Splashes of Vibrant Color

Colorful custom wallpaper pairs with a custom chandelier to make a striking first impression in this home's foyer. The vivid colors enliven the space and offset the home's traditional architecture.

Colorful Chandelier Illuminates Traditional Stairway

A stunning tiered chandelier illuminates this open staircase from top to bottom. The custom light fixture features glass pendants in bold, vivid colors, lending spunk and pizzazz to the classic stairway.

Colorful Shelving Pops Against Classic Wood Staircase

Colorful shelving surrounds a large window as you ascend this classic wood staircase. The shelves create a striking display while also providing functional storage space for books, toys and collectibles.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

Colorful Shelves With Vintage Flair

A large unit of wood shelves is backed with bold colors that coordinate with the vintage toys, collectibles and globes that fill it. The globes and maps are part of a large collection that belongs to the homeowner, who is a geography teacher.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

Sunny Yellow Bedroom Is Lively, Stylish

Vibrant yellow walls create an immediately fun and cheery atmosphere in this bedroom. Stylish, clean-lined furniture gives the room a contemporary look and feel.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

Transitional Master Bathroom With High-Contrast Palette

Navy blue pairs with crisp white for a high-contrast look in this gorgeous master bathroom. A classic white vanity and marble shower ensure the design is timeless, elegant and tasteful.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

Transitional Teen Bedroom With Romantic Feel

A modern white bed and stylish patterned wallpaper update this classic teen bedroom. A chandelier and gauzy canopy over the bed give the room a romantic feel.

Colonial Home Features Backyard Fit for Entertaining

The addition of a small entrance, new French doors and a brick patio with a mahogany pergola makes this backyard feel open and inviting — perfect for entertaining guests. The French doors and entrance provide easy access into the expanded kitchen and living room.

Photo By: Sam Oberter Photography

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Alan Metcalfe

Contact Me
Metcalfe Architecture and Design
www.metarchdesign.com/ AIA, LEED AP 211 N. 13th Street, Suite 503 Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-557-9200