The Zevan family of Wynnewood, PA sure does love their books. Tracee and Steve, along with young sons Declan and Ronan, display all their favorite reads on the shelves of their restored ballroom living space within Redleaf Manor, located on the Pennsylvania Main Line. The historic 30,000-square-foot English Tudor Revival mansion was designed by architect Frank Furness and built in 1881. Redleaf Manor, named after the leaves of the ancient copper beech trees located on the property, was commissioned for Philadelphia millionaire William Henszey. In the modern era, the building has been converted into seven condominium units, of which the Zevan family occupies 1,080 square feet. Tracee, an interior architecture design assistant, envisioned expanding the existing floor-to-ceiling library look in the den and establishing an open, modern floorplan in the kitchen.
Once serving as the mansion’s ballroom when the manor was a single-family home, the space retains its 11-foot ceilings and leaded glass French doors and windows. The fireplace and crown moldings are original to the site as well. “It felt more like a Paris apartment than a condo in the suburbs,” recalls Tracee upon her first visit to the home. “It was love at first sight.” Other features needed renovation, like a poorly-patched ceiling layered in wallpaper, and a distinct lack of overhead lighting throughout. During three months of construction under the oversight of architect , the Zevan family stayed elsewhere in the building to keep an eye on the project.
In the updated ballroom, the whole family can hang out, share a meal, play board games, and entertain friends. They forewent a dining room table in favor of extra couch seating — a series of IKEA chairs pushed together, often reconfigured based on need. They eventually plan to add pocket doors and many library ladders to accommodate the tall ceilings. “What we lack in surface space, we make up for in vertical space,” Tracee notes, “And I’d like to utilize that to its fullest advantage.” The all-white home provides a feeling of serenity, and the color scheme makes the rooms feel larger. Still practical for kids because “everything is slipcovered, so it’s a trip to the washing machine when covers get dirty,” Tracee shares. When the work is done, she loves to sit in front of the fireplace, looking outside at the pristine grounds, with a cup of tea and her pick of many, many good books. —