A spare and bright empty nest

Suzanne and Chuck Cruit relax in their kitchen, where they replaced the countertops with granite.
Suzanne and Chuck Cruit relax in their kitchen, where they replaced the countertops with granite. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 04, 2013

Most parents don't think of being a twosome again until the house is devoid of offspring. Not Suzanne and Chuck Cruit of Media.

Maybe it was because the Cruit nest had no one zip code for long. During the couple's 28 years of marriage, they have lived in Washington, D.C.; Huntington Beach, Calif.; Newtown Square, Delaware County; and East Goshen, Chester County.

With life's changes so clearly and chronologically documented, the Cruits didn't need a crystal ball to get an accurate picture of the future. Their house in East Goshen was a typical suburban dwelling, with four bedrooms. Suzanne and Chuck wanted much less square footage in their new home.

"When the kids got older and we started to think about the empty nest, we knew we needed a change," says Suzanne, a director for corporate and community relations at Penn State Great Valley. "We wanted to downsize and be in a walkable town, closer to Center City."

They started looking casually when their youngest was barely in high school in Chester County. In the interim, they discovered Media.

Its navigable streets reminded the Cruits of California (they'd been able to walk to the beach in Huntington Beach), and Chuck could easily commute to his job at Boeing, where he is director of intellectual property.

But there weren't that many single homes in Media - they took some time to find. And when the Cruits did find a 1929 cottage-style house, their youngest was still in high school, So Suzanne and Chuck, both about 50, jumped at the opportunity. They rented the place for a year, until their son graduated.

They moved into the house two years ago.

Reasons for the purchase are as different as the owners.

Says Chuck: "I love the street. It curves and drops off." He also likes how the house is perched on a hill; the backyard descends straight to a creek.

As for Suzanne, she likes how close the house is to town while still being in a quiet location. And a huge plus: the natural light that pours in through the eastern and southern exposures.

You will find no curtains in the Cruit house. "I like natural light," she says. "Curtains . . . are dust collectors."

With each change of address - this is their eighth home - Suzanne has found that she is becoming a fabric minimalist.

But this house's minimalist feel is not just the result of a lack of fabric - it's short on tchotchkes, too. There's a clean, spare feeling here, as if whoever does the dusting wants to come through and finish the job pronto.

What decorations do exist, however, are noteworthy.

The working fireplace is fronted with teal-colored Moravian tiles. On top of the mantel is a bowling ball covered with tiny teal mosaic tiles. Tiling is a hobby of Suzanne's - you'd never know it was a bowling ball without her telling you.

"Someone was giving them away on Craigslist," she says. "He had hundreds."

A nearby half-moon table, a thrift-store find, also has a mosaic-tile top. The colors perk up the more neutral tones of the living room.

What changes the Cruits have made - or haven't made - to their house have been carefully considered.

In the dining room, for example, the whole back wall has French-like windows, painted black, that look to the woods behind the house. The previous owners had encased the windows with what look like window boxes - but they were installed for warmth, not for flowers. The windows nearby are painted taupe.

"I like it, it works," Suzanne says. "The black has been there a long time."

But in the kitchen, the couple replaced the floor with a composite slate material. It looks like slate, but kneel down and touch it: "It feels good on your feet," Suzanne says, a change for the better.

For the countertops, "we had a blast picking out the granite" to match the existing cherry cabinets, Chuck says. There wasn't a lot to do, he adds, because the former owners took good care of the house.

He shows a visitor a piece of paper from decades past - it's possible their Media abode was a Sears kit house. Chuck already knows what he plans to do in retirement, still years away:

A bit of investigating.


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