An Ambler dream house nine years in the making

From the outside, Michael and Deborah Anthony’s home in Ambler appears to be a simple ranch style, but grand interior windows unite the indoors with the outdoors.

Michael Steven Anthony found a 1.5-acre lot surrounded by walnut trees in 2000, but it wasn’t easy building the home/office of his dreams there.

“I used to visit the site in my truck whenever I could and look at the site next to the pond and envision what it would be like to live in a house there and be able to look at that view all the time,” said Anthony, a professional builder whose family lived in a Glenside development when he bought the land off Route 309 in Ambler.

Approval involved “many hearings” and took about nine years, he said.

“We had to fill in a creek, clear trees, and obtain permission to build eight feet above the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline that transverses our property,” Anthony said.

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Interior colors and furnishings were chosen to complement the woods surrounding the house.

Finally, as he has done for clients of his company, Michael Steven Anthony LLC, Anthony drew up plans for his own property and worked with architect Philip Rodgers of Lenhardt & Rodgers of Fort Washington to convert them to architectural specifications.

With hurdles conquered, Anthony built a 5,000-square-foot home and office. His neighbors “will never change,” he said, because there aren’t any.

On initial approach up a long driveway, the house appears to be a simple rancher in the woods. But after entering the front door and seeing the view, “simple” no longer applies.

An arched window that almost fills the front of the 500-square-foot great room provides a dramatic view resembling a mural of green and brown.

“I see deer many times each day,” Anthony said. “I think they are attracted by the Rose Creek running under the property.”

The great room’s rattan furniture and shiny wooden floors seem to complement the view. “The beige walls make the outside more vivid,” he said.

To further draw attention to the vista, the living room sofa is set at an angle on a small blue-and-white patterned rug pointing to the window. A round table in the far corner of the great room can be enlarged when the Anthony children and grandchildren visit.

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Michael Steven Anthony says the compact kitchen off the great room is perfect for him and his wife.

The kitchen is set in a corner of the great room. “Most of the time we eat at the island,” Anthony said. “A lot of people want a larger kitchen area, but we have everything we want here for our meals in this 200-square-foot space.”

Anthony designed what he calls “an English telephone booth” to serve as the entrance to the master bedroom. It shields the bedroom area from sound, including Anthony’s guitar group playing in his study nearby.

Anthony’s wife, Deborah, a retired social worker, has her own study, which doubles as a guest room. It’s furnished in the same wicker and beige as the rest of the house.

Outside the kitchen door is a covered area to protect people coming into the house. “All Deborah asked for was the porte cochère, so people getting in and out of cars wouldn’t get wet,” Anthony said.

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Like the main house, Michael Steven Anthony’s detached office offers dramatic views of the woods.

Anthony’s work space is in a separate building connected by a covered driveway to the main house.

Anthony, who has had careers as a scuba diver, carpenter, skydiver, merchant marine and  cabinet maker, enjoys riding a motorcycle. And, with the full past that he’s had, he designed the house with the future in mind.

“It is smart to think about what could be ahead,” he said.

The light switches are positioned so they can be operated by someone in a wheelchair and doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. Plus, the entry has no stairs.

“I like to think of everything,” he said. “Of course, I made sure my garage was big enough for two cars and my Harley motorcycle.”

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Michael Steven Anthony designed the garage to accommodate his equipment and motorcycles.

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