Philadelphia Home: Inside Nancy Levie’s Modern Bucks County Dream Home
Even though it’s getting dark outside—in the farm-dotted, wooden-bridged pocket of Buckingham Township, just outside New Hope, there are no streetlights—I can see the house from afar. Well, not exactly the house, but a heather and wildflower meadow that is Nancy Levie’s front yard. Two enormous columns made of piles of small rocks, arranged just so and encased in a sculptural metal grating, mark the entrance to the winding driveway. Then I see the greenhouse, which, when illuminated at dusk, seems to glow, and just beyond that, a small orchard. I’m here for the Levies’ annual themed party; this year, the theme is fitting: “County Fair Couture,” a perfect summation of the couple’s effortless blend of high design and country charm.
The whole scene is quite a departure from the Manhattan pied-à-terre Levie owns with her husband, a portfolio manager who appears to be the antithesis to art-inclined Nancy, who once helmed a fashion showroom in New York. But this is now their primary home—an 11-acre property deep in the heart of Bucks County, anchored by a shockingly modern house built in 1986 by then-relatively-unknown (and now renowned) architects Richard Olcott and Todd Schliemann. But the party I’ve just walked into isn’t in the house—it’s in the spectacular greenhouse just outside, an all-season 1,200-square-foot space designed by Groundswell’s David Fierabend.
In the beginning, Nancy and her husband just wanted a small patio; they’d gone through a handful of traditionally minded landscape architects before meeting Fierabend. He instinctually suggested the couple visit Terrain, the home-and-garden arm of the Urban Outfitters empire in Glen Mills. The very next morning, they did. Over brunch in Terrain’s greenhouse cafe, Nancy made the phone call: “David, forget the patio. I want you to build me this.”
And now I’m in a home that sort of feels as if you’re actually living in Terrain, or Anthropologie. Only better, because while the entire space brims with inspiring style ideas—an antique horse trough as a gurgling fountain in the greenhouse; an old toolbox as a counter-top organizer in the kitchen—it’s not all calculated so that you’re spurred to fork over $800 for a not-quite-vintage pendant light. It is, like Nancy, much more free-spirited than that: “My philosophy in life is, if I have a visceral reaction to something, I don’t stop to think where it will go or what I will wear it with. I just do it.” But she does plan ahead in some respects. The theme is already set for next year’s party: Nancy and Fierabend—now a dear friend and co-party planner—are conjuring up a fantastical grown-up version of … prom. In this place, which at night, under the lights, feels almost magical, anything is possible.