Just Listed: Mid-Century Split-Level in Rydal
This house may date to the exact midpoint of the 20th century, but its owner decided to channel several other centuries in decorating it.
The years after World War II saw a wave of massive transformations sweep the country: Mass suburbs like Levittown. Mass higher education via the GI Bill of Rights.
And in the world of architecture and design, two separate but related trends: the spread of the simpler, cleaner architectural style we now call “mid-century modern” and the spread of the curvy, colorful design former Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Thomas Hine dubbed “Populuxe.”
Concurrent with these trends was another: the revival of elaborate wallpaper patterns akin to the rich designs of the 18th century. The difference is, this time, instead of pastoral or exotic scenery, these wallpaper patterns featured metallic colors and geometric and floral patterns.
You will find some of this in this Rydal midcentury split-level house for sale. Make that “you will find a lot of this in this Rydal mid-century split-level house for sale.”
Note also that I just called it “mid-century,” not “mid-century modern.”
That’s because its owner, who had this split-level built in 1950, clearly had visions of some century other than the last one in mind.
As this photo of the main floor should demonstrate, inside this mid-century modern split-level, the owner decided to go for baroque.
I’m not sure whether the palace that inspired the main living area’s decor is in Italy or in France, but that decor contains nods to both countries — lighting, drapery, carpet, furniture, you name it.
Ditto the cabinetry in the dining area. This opulence would look right at home in one of those Gilded Age mansions down the road in Cheltenham, but it seems a bit out of place in a 1950 split-level.
In addition to going for baroque, the owner turned several rooms in this house into gardens with a variety of floral wallpapers. The foyer, as you probably noticed, was decked with floral wallpaper; so is the eat-in kitchen, whose color scheme is very much a mid-century period piece.
But speaking of period pieces, while the oven, refrigerator, dishwasher and cooktop have all been replaced since this house was built, there remain some 1950s classics that you too might want to retain when you remodel this house, as I imagine you will want to. Check out the vintage range hood, for instance, or the radio and intercom system on the wall. (Clues to the function of the two metal drawers on the wall to the right of the cooktop are greatly appreciated.)
The decor in the bedrooms upstairs is generally less exuberant, but there is one exception: this child’s bedroom, a vision in pink with (yes) floral paper on its walls and dazzling (vertigo-inducing?) geometric-pattern wallpaper on the ceiling.
Wait, I spoke too soon.
While the primary bedroom and bathroom are restrained by comparison, the primary suite contains another explosion in its dressing room, this one filled with tropical birds.
(Like the house as a whole, all of its bathrooms have been meticulously maintained and retain their mid-century modern-crossed-with-French Provincial style. Including the powder room on the lower level, which features colorful metallic wallpaper in a fish-scale pattern.)
The lower-level family room, on the other hand, is a Fifties contemporary classic, with a full wet bar and dark plywood paneling.
But the owner couldn’t resist putting a little classical style in unusual colors in here, too, with the fireplace surround and built-in shelving that pick up the blue of the chairs and carpet.
Sliding doors lead from the family room to a large, nicely landscaped rear patio and backyard.
And there’s another rec room and bar in the walkout basement another half-floor below the family room.
This part of Abington Township appears to have several mid-century ranchers and split-levels that have managed to survive into our time in their original form; we featured a house similar to this one but built 12 years later two years ago this month.
With some judicious renovations, you could turn this Rydal mid-century split-level house for sale into a cultural artifact on par with that Abington house. All you need to do is dial down the baroque and flowers. Put those in that large, nicely landscaped backyard instead.
THE FINE PRINT
BATHS: 2 full, 1 half
SQUARE FEET: 3,050
SALE PRICE: $524,900
1471 Autumn Rd., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046 [Eric Maher | Keller Williams Real Estate — Blue Bell]