Home: Natural Selection
”I had been living in a house that was black and white,” says Dr. Vanaja Ragavan. “I decided that when I moved into this one, I would live in color.” Ragavan, who grew up in India, travels around the world for her work, along the way amassing a museum-worthy collection of art glass, paintings and sculpture. She knew she wanted a backdrop for these. And she knew that she liked the oak trees and conservancy that abut her Bryn Mawr property.
So she hired architect Stephen Varenhorst to turn her circa-1960s house into an open, liveable art gallery. The home’s original layout had rooms radiating out like spokes from a center atrium, none relating to each other — and all feeling confined, dark and cut off from the landscape. Varenhorst raised ceilings, perforated walls, and reoriented the rooms to flow into one another and to interact with the grounds.
Collaborating with Varenhorst on the interior design, Ragavan was ruthless in her pursuit of the perfect yellows and oranges, dabbing every shade
in Benjamin Moore’s arsenal onto the walls, and scouting showrooms from Philadelphia to New York. She’s thrilled with the sunny, modern results, and with the extent of her own self-discovery. “I’m just a doctor,” she says. “Who knew I had a sense of design?”