When the Bradberrys bought the house, their daughters were preteens. Now, one is in high school, one is in college, and one has just graduated from college. Their colorful bedrooms were part of the renovation of the second floor, where the servants once lived.
In redoing the entire house, the idea was to make a formal place more accommodating for an informal family, and to provide space for an occasionally used office. The process Jim calls the "lightening up" started in the yard.
"The only feature of the original backyard was an apron of asphalt where the car was kept unless a servant drove it," he says. "People didn't go in their yards much."
These days, the Bradberry cars are parked in the driveway in front of the house. Their former garage has been turned into a family room/great room by Jim, who says he also "rescued" the yard and turned the asphalt parking area into a garden and outdoor seating area.
"We designed a bluestone terrace and added a fish pond, as well as lattice trellises and new perennial flower beds," he says.
The terrace is flanked by the new family room, a space that, with its expansive French doors and glass, seems to be much more than the 450 square feet it measures. The Bradberrys took the garage and "opened it up," adding glass wall windows.
By combining the former garage area with the kitchen, Jim says, he created a single living space, using wainscoting and beams to knit the once-separate rooms together. White ceiling-to-floor shelves face the kitchen area, with two full wall windows on either side. The shelves are filled with books, a television, wicker baskets, and souvenir plates and bowls. A white sofa is adorned with a collection of cushions, and set near the sofa is a blond birch-wood table surrounded by black chairs.
The look is clean and open.
Jim says he appreciates uncluttered architecture - he has designed about 12 Quaker meetinghouses, including locations in West Chester and Princeton, and is working on the Chestnut Hill meeting.
"I am not a Quaker, but I like the way they value a kind of straightforward design," he says.
Jim and Nancy met at Auburn University and moved to Philadelphia, where he studied for his master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania. When a reporter stopped by recently, Nancy was on a trip to Singapore and Vietnam, but her influence on the house was easy to see.
"She loves black and white," Jim says. "The white forms a great backdrop for furniture and art." Much of the latter chronicles the Bradberrys' travels.
Covering one living-room wall, for example, is a reproduction map of the parks of Paris. Near the foyer, in black-framed 11- by 17-inch sections, hangs a copy of a 1747 Nolli map of Rome. Another wall has been taken over by New Yorker magazine covers from the 1940s and '50s that used to belong to his mother-in-law, Jim says. "She lived in Greenwich Village for a time."
In the living room, a white fireplace and a grand piano serve as focal points. A sofa and chairs in black offer contrast. The overall feel here is somewhat traditional, though the home's original owners might not think so. The fireplace is gas, and the sofa and chairs are black leather.
And there's that bicycle in the foyer.