A new spin on an old house

A Villanova couple whose life revolves around vintage records make music a theme in their home.

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in the entertainment room on the second floor is left over from the house's previous life as a springhouse. The decor reflects the owners' taste. "We see furniture as art," Million said.

The couple call it "Rock-and-Roll Meets Louis XIV," and if that doesn't make sense to you, well, you'd just have to see the house. Or at least look at pictures of it.

Duke Ellington once referred to his music as "beyond category," and that term could as easily be applied to the Villanova home of Harold Gold and Max I. Million.

Wedged on a one-acre plot between Route 320 and the fifth tee of the Radnor Valley Country Club, this house could be in the Italian or French countryside. Only the squeal of tires as a car takes the blind curve too fast near their driveway says anything to the contrary. Or perhaps it is the occasional golfer's shout of joy or anguish.

"It's a storybook setting," Million said. "An oasis unto itself."

Inside, period furniture blends with musical motifs - there are pictures of Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles, some looking familiar because they were originally on famous LPs, as in vinyl. "We see furniture as art," Million said.

The couple own Gold Million Records on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, selling vintage LPs and art objects made by Million from vinyl and record jackets. LP collectors may remember their old Plastic Fantastic store in Ardmore.

Gold and Million - that's her real name - bought the place in 2000 after looking for three years. "When we saw it," said Gold, "we knew within a half hour that it was ours. It had the bones we needed. We pretty much gutted the interior."

But the "bones" were interesting and unusual. The place had been the springhouse of the manor house at the country club and there was - and is - little that is conventional about it.

There were Palladian windows on the second floor along with a terrace with a statue of Michelangelo's David. There were black finials on the retaining wall surrounding the property. The couple left those touches but painted the stucco facade with what Gold calls "MGM Red," mixed to duplicate a color he saw on an MGM record album.

Wisteria covers a natural arbor outside, and the couple mixed the plantings so there would be color outside year round. There's also a small swimming pool, a gazebo, and a wooden bridge over a creek.

The couple also installed some very practical touches, including an inside door to the garage and large mirrors across from the entrance on 320 (Sproul Road) to allow guests - and themselves - to leave safely by what would otherwise be a treacherous exit.

Inside, they left the original free-floating oak staircase, sunken living room, and formal dining room, but improvised from there. It took two years to furnish. They used an architect, but did the design themselves.

"Every room overlooks a garden," Million said. The garden motif is incorporated inside by using potted ficus trees in several rooms.

The dining room features crown moldings and a glass chandelier dropping from a ceiling medallion. There are French Aubusson rugs throughout the house.

The black downstairs powder room is walled with a series of mirrors that give the illusion of being in a funhouse. Which, to some extent, is the case. Since the dominant colors are black and white, the second upstairs bathroom is in white. The kitchen appliances are black as is the blown-up movie poster of King Kong.

Much of the serious work was done upstairs, where the couple converted what had been an in-law apartment into a huge master bedroom, raising the ceilings from seven feet to 13 feet. The master bathroom didn't have room for the black Jacuzzi, so they stuck that in the bedroom as well.

The house emphasizes both symmetry and visual jokes and puns. Where there was only one bookcase along the wall in the downstairs living room, the couple installed a second. The door leading to the upstairs closet was matched by a duplicate that hides a full-length mirror. Where one wall alternates with windows and pictures - some of them her work - Million put heavy, gilded frames around both the images and the windows, making the windows look like a framed scene.

The place looks full but not cluttered, no mean feat when one considers the amount of furniture and art in what is really a modest-sized home.

The couple have solved this problem by having what amounts to rotating exhibits between the home and Gold Million Records. "That's the nice thing about having a house and a store," Gold said. I

 


Paul Jablow, a former Inquirer reporter and editor, lives and writes in Bryn Mawr.