Collin Whelan lived in the historic district of South Wayne for much of his youth. "My dad was constantly working on the house," he says, "which sparked my interest in old homes."
He met his wife, Colleen, who also grew up in Wayne, at Radnor High School — "He was 14 and I was 15," she says. When they married in 2007 and moved to the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, they hoped someday to return to Wayne to raise a family.
The couple began house hunting after daughter Aislyn was born seven years ago. When nothing was immediately available in Wayne, they searched all over the Main Line. "We probably looked at 25 to 30 houses," Collin says. In 2013, they found a 1905 house in the North Wayne Historic District.
Wayne was one of more than a dozen communities developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Pennsylvania Railroad investors to encourage commuter use of rail lines. Investors hired prominent architects such as L.V. Boyd, who designed the Whelans' residence.
Boyd's three-story gambrel-roofed structure featured a bay window and a handsome columned porch. The house had a nice front lawn and a backyard for the Whelans' pug, Jack. There was an elegant foyer, dining room and living room, but the kitchen was tiny.
"The refrigerator stuck out into the room. There wasn't even space for a microwave," Colleen recalls. Plus the upstairs bedrooms were small, and there was no bath on the third floor.
In January the Whelans began a five-month project to add a three-story addition. By then, their family included a second daughter, Adelyn.
Collin, 36, who is project superintendent for the real estate development company MLP Ventures, was his own general contractor. Colleen, 37, who is with a vendor representative firm that sells products to QVC, was the interior designer. They worked with Forest View Carpentry and Santa HVAC, among others.
Now, a new side entrance opens into an airy white kitchen. Instead of protruding, the refrigerator is built into Amish-crafted, Kingwood cabinetry. Two-year-old Adelyn likes pushing a button to access the microwave, now tucked into a drawer. The family makes frequent use of a water spigot added over the stove to fill pots for cooking pasta, the girls' favorite food.
Colleen chose a neutral bisque for most walls. The dining room has white wainscoting to accent the white and dove gray wallpaper above. Shades were added to original crystal and glass sconces and the chandelier. Colleen added her own touch to furniture that had belonged to Collin's parents. She antiqued a table and chairs with white chalk paint and painted the buffet and sideboard a pale aqua. Chairs in the kitchen and the upholstered ottoman in the living room are also aqua.
The Whelans enlarged the original powder room and created storage in the old kitchen space. Oak floors were refinished.
The second-floor addition includes a master bedroom and bath, complete with shower jets, which the girls love, Colleen says.
The children's area has lots of accents — quilts, rugs, furniture — in Aislyn's favorite color, orange. Their bathroom even has an orange faucet. Collin had "ugly green" tile floors and walls resurfaced white.
The third floor has an office and playroom. The addition has an open space awaiting installation of a bathroom and larger play area.
The archway in the new side entrance mimics the front. Siding made of Allura fiber cement product matches the original wood siding on the free-standing garage. Exterior changes and additions were approved by Radnor Township's Historic and Architectural Review Board. Colleen chose indigo blue paint for the siding.
"I wanted it to pop," she says.
Everyone was involved in selecting the décor. Daughter Adelyn found a large gold jack, an homage to their dog, to display in the living room. And Collin made the case to keep a seductive brass mermaid holding a tray that he purchased when he was single. It stands beside the front Dutch door.
"It's a great place to put keys," he insists.