Transforming an East Falls Ranch into a European Dream Home
Bloomfield Architects redesigned this 1950’s house into a contemporary second residence.
The unique open-concept plan combines the kitchen, dining and living areas in the center of the home. Photos by Aliza Schlabach.
Most of the projects that cross Paul Bloomfield’s desk are anything but contemporary. So when a client in Europe asked the Wayne-based architect for his expertise in transforming a 1950s rancher in East Falls, he was all in—and so was Ardmore contractor Pete Maruca. “We essentially deconstructed it, then reconstructed it in a much more open format,” says Maruca.
“We very quickly arrived at a plan to create a common open space in the center of the home,” adds Bloomfield.
To do so, Bloomfield took out most of the interior walls, creating a central living space with multiple seating options, a dining area and a kitchen. Removing the attic opened up the ceiling. “Blowing out the ceiling is a testament to Paul’s creative design,” Maruca says. “That the clients dared to do that to a ranch is pretty wild. I’ve never seen it before—it’s particularly stunning.”
One bedroom features a platform canopy bed dressed in Belgian linens.
A shed dormer has a band of windows that stretches across the entire open space, providing plenty of natural light. At one end of the main room are two private living areas. One has bedrooms for guests and the clients’ adult children. The other is an apartment-like space with a master suite and an office that also doubles as a TV room.
Switzerland-based interior designer Leslie Sturm was thrilled to be a part of the project. A good friend of the family, she also worked with them on a previous home in Europe. “They have a very minimalistic and rather simple, effortless lifestyle,” Sturm says. “Their home in Europe is clean and uncluttered.”
With its white walls and natural oak-colored flooring, the family’s U.S. home is largely devoid of color. “They’re such clean, minimalistic people—in the way they dress, the way they are, the way they want to live,” says Sturm. “In Switzerland, we say, ‘We understood each other blind.’ We didn’t need much talking or explanation.”
But Sturm points out that the home still had to feel cozy. So while white dominates, some color can be found in the kitchen countertops, a theme that’s repeated on the fireplace hearth and two deep window seats on either side. The windows were a must for Sturm, who remains in awe of the home’s beautiful surroundings. “We don’t have seasons like this in Switzerland,” she says. “The windows are like huge paintings that are changing all the time. They bring in so much color and light.”
In keeping with the minimalist design, there’s very little trim throughout the home—no baseboards, no crown molding, the doors drywalled in place without any casings. “The lack of detail was so challenging,” says Maruca. “Everything had to be perfect, because it’s very unforgiving. With Paul’s help, we were able to pull it off.”
The home’s exterior, with its expansive patio area and fire pit.
With just one open living space, having places to gather became crucial. “The kitchen had to be an area where everyone could come together and everything is super-accessible,” says Sturm.
Sleek white cabinetry—free of pulls and handles—from German-based manufacturer Bulthaup was shipped and assembled on-site. The island and counters were topped with a faux-concrete material. “I wanted a contrast to the wooden floor,” says Sturm.
The concrete motif reoccurs in four hanging light fixtures above the island and table, and also on a set of shelves. Open shelving allowed Sturm to bring in more texture and natural color with artisan mugs and plates from Mud Australia and South Africa’s Wonki Ware. Off the island, iconic Wishbone chairs from Danish designer Hans J. Wegner surround a Bulthaup dining table.
In front of the fireplace, a pair of oversized sofas covered in white linen from Restoration Hardware provides an inviting setup. The linen on the sofa and the sisal area rug are a nice contrast to the wood floor and concrete-like counters. “I like the symmetry of the two sofas,” says Sturm. “You can curl up and read a book or drink your coffee.”
Sometimes, simple and minimalistic can prove to be the most challenging. In this case, everyone was happy in the end. “How the clients reacted when they first saw the completed design is a moment I’ll have with me forever,” says Sturm. “That’s what I work for.”
The lower level has a dedicated workout area and a sauna.
Wooden floors bring warmth to the master bathroom.