STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Foxwood Manor, the 41st Bucks County Designer House & Gardens, is memorably unusual for several reasons:
1. Instead of a house that’s on the market, or going to be on the market, the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown chose a recently purchased fixer-upper, built in 1830, that was reportedly in urgent need of renovation. Purchased last summer, a drywall upgrade to the house was only just completed April 19. According to Designer House chair Joy Levy, before the 30+ designers could get started on the 5,700-square-foot Warwick Township home, the homeowners (who haven’t moved in yet) had roofs, windows and doors to replace first.
2. The two carriage houses on the property’s nine acres offer a cafe serving light lunch fare in an upstairs apartment area, as well as copious boutique space where garages would ordinarily be. A previous owner of the property required 10 garages because he collected Porsches, Levy said. Six boutique vendors will have home furnishings, clothing, accessories, crafts and snacks for sale.
3. Because of the cluster of detached buildings — including a smokehouse that’s been colorfully re-imagined as an artist studio — it’s tricky figuring out where you’re supposed to enter the house. Don’t go to the front door, but around to the entrance at the south side of the house instead.
4. Behind the house is a private tennis court, around which several landscape designers radically beautified the perimeter. “It wasn’t just barren, it was messy,” said Emily Reuther of Five Senses Garden on the original condition of the space.
5. A strikingly-blue salt water swimming pool, also notably accented by gardens, as well as an appealing variety of poolside patio furnishings.
6. For the first time in the history of the Bucks County Designer House & Gardens, the homeowners actively collaborated with a few of the designers. With the house’s five bathrooms requiring renovation, the homeowners selected the plumbing fixtures and vanities. “In some cases we used the owner’s materials for other accessories, such as mirrors and lighting, but in others they were designer selections,” Levy added.
Designers reflect on this year’s project:
“The family wants to move in here.” — Kimberly Lux of Lux Interiors in Richboro on the 1,600-square-foot pool house that her design team transformed.
“He likes to collect, so he displays his things, and he layers it.” — Phillip Greenberg of Greenberg Interiors Inc. in East Norriton, imagining the man that would inhabit the “World Traveler’s Study.”
“You can delight, not only in the food … but in the company.” — Ann Marie Horn of Nellie Easton Design Inc. in Doylestown of the rustic “Dining Delight” formal dining room.
“It’s not functional for someone who likes to cook.” — Bucks County Designer House & Gardens chair Joy Levy on the way the retro kitchen appliances and farm sinks are spread out.
“You can bring in design talent to brighten up what you have in place.” — Merrie Turney of the Philadelphia Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association. Eight of their member designers brightened up the kitchen and adjoining sunroom.
“It’s a great cause, and it’s a great group of women that are running it.” — Fran Crotty of My Folksy Home in Glenside. She’s referring to the non-profit Village Improvement Association of Doylestown, and its ongoing mission to enhance the quality of life in the local community through service and education. A portion of the 2016 Designer House proceeds will be earmarked to expand Doylestown Hospital’s Richard A. Reif Heart Institute.
“We want you to feel like you’re at home.” — Lori Blomstrom of Veneshe Italian/Venetian Plastering in Easton of the receiving room/“grounding room,” featuring large geode crystals, throw pillows with images of foxes, polished plaster walls and a table made from a large tree root.
“We had to go with an old world style.” — Dustin Kuhns of Terra Flora Design Associates Inc. in Yardley of having a mature tree, a stone walkway and a brick/stone landscape wall on the shaded north side of the main house as a starting point to create.