Where Hope Resides
A celebrity chef finds her (almost) perfect home in Bryn Mawr.
Photos by John Lewis
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Hope Cohen’s culinary career began in her teens, when she opened her own catering business. Since then, the chef has been a consultant for some of the area’s top restaurants. From 2003 to 2009, she hosted the Comcast Network’s The Chef’s Kitchen, and she’s now writing her first cookbook, Hope Cooks Fast, Fresh and Simple.
So it’s somewhat ironic that the least favorite room in her new Bryn Mawr home is the kitchen. Though the previous owner recently installed new cabinetry and granite countertops, the space is small and narrow, with limited work areas—and there’s no island, which is standard in most modern kitchens.
The kitchen was able to accommodate her professional Wolf stove and stainless steel refrigerator, so Cohen is making do with what she has—for now. “Some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to have operated out of the smallest kitchens,” says Cohen. “It doesn’t keep them—or me—from turning out great food.”
While Cohen isn’t currently engaged in a major kitchen renovation, she still dreams of her ideal space. The plan is to extend the kitchen into the adjoining eat-in area and family room, to make it one enormous gourmet show-stopper.
“I want a huge island in the center where I could teach cooking classes—and a pantry,” she says. “I’ve already had an architect over, and we’ve figured out the whole layout.”
But until she’s ready to take on such a major project, Cohen is enjoying the rest of the home she’s been gradually settling into since February 2009. Ten years prior, she’d been living with her son and daughter in a carriage house on the historic Harriton House property in Bryn Mawr. “The house was on 16 acres,” says Cohen. “We loved it there, but we were growing out of it. We needed more room.”
Little did Cohen know that her search for her next home would lead her to a 100-year-old stone Colonial right next door. She wanted to retain all of its charming original details—including the woodwork—while personalizing the rooms with her own “modern classic” twist. Now, the home’s sleek aesthetic—with its soft-gray, white and muted-bronze color palette, plus the furniture’s clean lines—gives it the feel of a hip boutique hotel.
Splashes of color come courtesy of Cohen’s eclectic art collection. “I really like neutrals,” she says. “Using these colors gives the house a calm vibe, which is what I really wanted. I have a very busy career, and I wanted my home to be an oasis.”
With a clear idea of what she wanted, Cohen consulted with an interior designer to help with details like furniture scale, room layouts and fabrics. Adding to the home’s relaxed feel, a life-size, Ming-style Buddha sits in the living room. The piece is at least 150 years old. “My mom had a Buddha in our house,” says Cohen. “I saw it in an antique shop in New York City and had to have it.”
Cohen even had a base made to raise the Buddha off the floor and give the impression that it’s surveying the living room. “Although I don’t use this room often, I walk through here to get to my office,” she says. “So I get to see the Buddha every day.”