Recent empty nesters Don and Kim Riley were ready to begin the next chapter of their life together. Part of that transition was transforming their longtime home in West Chester into a relaxing retreat where they could entertain family and friends. Their renovation story starts with a blank page of sorts. They were intent on reimagining the entire first floor of the two-story house. “We wanted and needed an updated look,” says Don. “The last time we made upgrades was before 2000. We felt it was about time we modernized.”
The Rileys began by installing a coffered ceiling in a den adjoining the large kitchen and dining area. Then they called Philadelphia-based interior designer Glenna Stone. She took the owners’ wish list and created a comprehensive plan befitting their airy, polished design sensibility.
Although they didn’t know it, the Rileys couldn’t have picked a more serendipitous time to renovate. Most of the project wrapped up just before COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates, meaning the Rileys got to cocoon in a cheerful, light-filled home. “Don was the envy of his friends with his new home office,” Stone says. “He has the best background for Zoom calls.”
In the open-concept kitchen and breakfast area, the streamlined white cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, with a top tier of lighted, glass-fronted cupboards where decorative vases and bowls are displayed. The couple’s morning ritual is now elevated with a built-in coffee maker and a custom pull-out drawer for mugs and coffee beans. A large furniture-style island topped with quartzite provides seating for four, plus storage and an integrated oven. “It offers the practicality of a wall oven, without being front-and-center visually,” Stone notes.
In the breakfast area, a round pedestal table surrounded by comfy upholstered chairs ushers in views of the pool and manicured gardens. Natural light streams through the French doors. “It’s bright and happy, just like Kim and Don,” Stone says.
Improving the flow of the home was a priority. Stone started from the ground up, replacing tile flooring in the foyer, kitchen and breakfast areas with hardwoods, visually connecting those spaces with the existing floors in the adjoining rooms. The passageway between the living room and formal dining room was broadened to improve sightlines from the foyer.
Now that the kids are grown, there are no worries about maintaining a pale color scheme. Taupe, gray, blue and white create a serene sense of cohesiveness throughout the first floor. “With staying mainly neutral, we have the option at any time to change up the accessories—like pictures, pillows, throws— and totally change the room,” Kim says.
“With staying mainly neutral, we have the option at any time to change up the accessories and totally change the room.”
—Homeowner Kim Riley
A long wall between the breakfast area and den was formerly occupied by a buffet that had become a seldom-used catch-all. It’s now home to a custom dry bar. Upper cabinets display glassware. A refrigerator drawer, wine fridge and custom storage are tucked under a countertop crafted from a slab of walnut. Its strategic location bridges the two rooms, offering wine for casual dinners at home and cocktails for guests congregating in the den. “We love to have friends and family over, especially in the summer months,” Kim says. “Adding the bar to an unused wall was one of our best choices.”
The owners opted to keep their formal dining table and chairs, the latter updated with blue upholstered seats. Stone gave the room a tailored, sophisticated look, adding custom draperies and wallpaper in a circle motif. Previously, the only lighting in the room was a pair of lamps on the buffet. Now, a polished nickel chandelier with a large drum shade sparkles above the table. Wall sconces are stationed over a new buffet.
In the adjoining living room, the tone is traditional and welcoming. Nail-head trim enhances cozy armchairs. A large blank wall above the sofa provides space for eight maps of places where the Rileys have lived and vacationed. Guests are welcomed into a refreshed foyer, where wallpaper was replaced with millwork and paneling. The staircase was updated by straightening a curve at the foot of the steps. Spindles were replaced with transitional square balusters.
“Kim and Don have an appreciation for the details that really make a space. Millwork elevates the room and gives it a sense of something unique.”
—Interior designer Glenna Stone
In the den, the initial inspiration for the makeover, Stone designed a modern take on a traditional mantel with an inset of Carrarra marble set in a herringbone pattern. Throw pillows on the sofa are accented with leather trim. Millwork on the walls compliments the coffered ceiling. “Kim and Don have an appreciation for the details that really make a space. Millwork elevates the room and gives it a sense of something unique,” Stone says. “It’s very livable—and very much them.”
As for the Rileys, they’re enjoying their lighter, brighter surroundings. “Glenna and her team had out-of-the-box ideas we wouldn’t have thought of,” says Don. “They knew from the start what our vision was, even if we didn’t know what it was yet.”