White outside, color everywhere else in this Villanova makeover

With the red brick painted white, Erinn and Matt Wiley’s home in Villanova resembles the north entrance of the White House in Washington.

With a second child on the way, Erinn and Matt Wiley knew they had to move from their small house in Bryn Mawr.

Erinn had in mind a New England-style home with cedar shakes and a wraparound porch, “something with an unusual floor plan,” she says. Matt, though, “had his heart set on a center-hall Colonial.”

Camera icon GENEVA HEFFERNAN
Erinn Wiley, who has an interior design firm, turned her imagination loose in a 1950s Colonial in Villanova.

He found his dream house in Villanova. The two-story brick Colonial with black shutters was on a quiet cul-de-sac. The Wileys could walk their three dogs and teach their two daughters to ride bikes without worrying about traffic.

The couple purchased the house in 2010 after Matt made a major concession to Erinn, who owns an interior design firm: She could paint the red brick white.

The house, with its four columns, now resembles an elegant, small-scale version of the White House’s north entrance.

Inside, the Wileys’ house is filled with color.  A lacquered red door opens into a center hall furnished with a Persian rug and two gilt mirrors reflecting bright-pink lamps, purple orchids, and porcelain Chinese lions resting on mahogany tea tables.

Erinn says her tastes reflect those of her paternal grandmother, who collected Asian artifacts, and her maternal grandmother, an interior designer who loved bold colors.

Her dining room table and buffet display pieces of blue-and-white Canton ware. The master bedroom is papered with Chinese country scenes in aqua and white. The sage wallpaper in the powder room features fanciful Chinese dragons, and wine drapes on the staircase landing are topped with a pagoda-shaped valance. She chose the deep coral in a Chinese-print window swag for the walls in the family room.

Her mother, Janine McGuire, is also an interior designer and an accomplished artist. The Wiley home showcases many of  McGuire’s multihued acrylic paintings.

Erinn “loves the juxtaposition” of abstract art displayed in antique frames in rooms with traditional furniture. A soft-green sofa and floral-print chairs in the living room pick up colors in her mother’s painting of full-bloom roses over the marble fireplace.

Camera icon GENEVA HEFFERNAN
One of Erinn Wiley’s favorite places, the living room features paintings by Wiley’s mother.

The Wileys’ home was custom-built in the early 1950s, with oak flooring, wainscoting, and ceiling moldings, and fine details such as brass door knobs.  In the 1970s, the attached garage was converted into a family room, and a porch into a solarium. A backyard pool was added, and a detached garage with a pool house was constructed on the acre-and-a-half property.

More recently, though, the house began to deteriorate. “We bought a money pit,” Erinn says.

The Wileys replaced heating and air-conditioning systems, restored damaged plaster, and refinished floors. A new septic system had to be installed before they moved in.

The work postponed a plan to enlarge the kitchen. Erinn settled for an update, adding a farm sink, chrome pulls to the white cabinets, and granite counter tops.

Recently, the Wileys combined two bedrooms to create a master bedroom with a dressing room and a bath with a walk-in shower and a soaking tub. The second floor includes a bath and two bedrooms for daughters Merritt, 9, and Keller, 7, and a guest bedroom and bath.

Erinn considered shades of lilac for the  master bedroom, but Matt wanted something more masculine. They compromised on aqua and white. Matt, who is a vice president for a pharmaceutical company, chose sedate navy blue for his office off the center hall, instead of a bright color that Erinn would have preferred.

Matt persuaded his wife to keep the Steinway piano that had belonged to a previous owner because he wanted the girls to learn to play. The basketball hoop in the front driveway and the large-screen television on the patio were not in Erinn’s design plan, but Matt and the girls like them. And Erinn concedes that she enjoys a glass of wine while watching the evening news on the patio in nice weather.

Erinn, 44, and Matt, 45, met on a blind date when both were living in Baltimore. They married in 2007.

“Matt is a good sport” about most of her ideas, Erinn says, though he did think the pink lamps “were a little crazy.”

Camera icon GENEVA HEFFERNAN
She wanted lilac. He wanted something more masculine. They compromised on aqua and white.

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