When John, a financier, and Maria Schneider, an artist, bought their house in 2005, the postmodern style was still in vogue.
Despite the black walls and gold trim in the kitchen and elsewhere, the couple chose the 5,000-square-foot house and moved to Gladwyne with their 2-year-old daughter.
They liked the three-acre, leafy green property because it offered privacy and a quiet, light-filled place where Maria could paint. It also was a convenient commute to Center City.
"We like cities very much," Maria said, "but there are other things we wanted, and this is as close as we could get."
Maria came to the United States from Madrid to study business and then transferred to the Art Students League of New York. She met John through friends. The couple lived in Haverford before moving to Gladwyne.
John and Maria were impressed by the open quality of the design by Philadelphia architect Edward Geddes. The four-bedroom house was built on one floor with a basement work space.
"That is what I wanted — my studio in a basement room with a round seating area next to a large window," she said.
What they didn't like were the gaudy metal decorations and a metal fence between the living room and entrance.
"It had black and gold in the foyer, and there was a wall facing you as you first came in the entrance," Maria said. "The kitchen cabinets were all black, and there was a metal fence between the living room and the entrance area. There were also touches of avocado green in the kitchen."
The couple hired Tom Purdy and Linda O'Gwynn of Purdy O'Gwynn Architects of Philadelphia to redesign the house. They started by replacing the windows in the living room, family room, and elsewhere with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors to give a spectacular view of the green fields outside. The architects' design also included clerestory windows to admit light from just below the 10-foot ceilings.
In the kitchen, the black cabinets were replaced with a light maple, and the walls were painted a neutral color.
"We love maple," Maria said. "All our cabinets and walls are maple."
A dark, wooden wall that confronted anyone coming in the entrance was removed, and the foyer walls were taken away to create a clear view of the home's landscape. Mirrored walls were also removed to cut down on the glare.
The exterior siding was replaced with cedar, which now surrounds the stone on the outside of the house.
The home is filled with Maria's oil paintings, including one of a horse in the dining room hanging over the buffet and another of dancers in the family room.
In a round, sunken sitting area in her basement studio, she displays what she calls her "invisible cities" paintings.
"I use digital manipulation, laser engraving, and LED lighting to create simple urban narratives from architectural views that reflect the contrasting realities of cities," she said. "I use current and old imagery bringing to the present the history of what is invisible and digitally manipulate these architectural views. … I like to think of it as the history of cities."
Maria, who is "offended by clutter," said she loves the clean, sparse appearance of her home since the redesign.