Couple Leaves Yorklyn; Creates Jewel in the City

Footprint of the convent-turned townhouse is an entire city block.



 Larry Bryce relaxes in front of the fireplace—a new addition to the old home.

For more than 10 years, Jeanne and Lawrence Bryce lived happily in the country, in a peaceful enclave in Yorklyn.

It was a lovely home, steeped in character, built in 1908 for managers of a snuff mill. Deer frolicked in green meadows across the lane. Only one thing was lacking.

“The city,” says Jeanne. “We missed the city.”

Years before, the couple had lived in the Highlands neighborhood in Wilmington, where they raised three teenagers.

In search of the ideal empty nest, they returned to their old neighborhood, which offers both tree-lined streets and ready access to shops and restaurants.

They found their new home in a community of semi-detached houses, originally a convent built in 1893 for the Sisters of the Visitation, an order of cloistered nuns. 

“After living in homes with some history, we gravitate toward places that have unique quirks,” Larry Bryce says.

The terra cotta roof that crowned the nunnery was removed when the property was redeveloped 20 years ago. Chunks of Brandywine granite walls were transported to a new convent in rural Massachusetts when the last two sisters, age 99 and 101, moved out in 1993. 

Blessedly, most of the walls remain, defining intimate garden courtyards. The community retains its original footprint, encompassing an entire city block.

In addition to charm and history, the three-story townhouse the Bryces bought offers modern amenities, including a spacious master bath with a jetted tub. A convenient, second-floor laundry room ticked another box on the couple’s wish list. An attached, two-car garage, a rare find in the city, was an added incentive.

“We love that the rooms are large and there’s a good flow,” Jeanne Bryce says. “There’s also great storage, including three big closets in the master bedroom.”

 

Making the House Their Own

Still, there was lots of work to be done before the Bryces would achieve their vision of a gracious city townhouse. 

Larry Bryce took his designs for built-in cabinetry and bookcases to London Grove Cabinetmakers, where his ideas were translated into custom millwork. They added crown molding. They replaced wall-to-wall carpeting on the second floor with oak floors that match the hardwoods on the first floor.

Their greatest challenge was adding a wood burning fireplace to the living room, which has no exterior walls to accommodate a chimney. The solution was to run a flue through an interior wall, a task that required exacting measurements.

The couple ordered the graceful mantel from a woodworker in Alabama, who shipped it to their door.

“It was the wrong size so we had to make some adjustments,” Larry Bryce says. “But when we sit in front of a crackling fire all the hassles we went through to get our fireplace just melt away.”

 

A Recipe for Success

Jeanne Bryce is an accomplished cook and the Bryces enjoy entertaining family and friends. Installing a new kitchen was at the top of their wish list.

To come up with a plan for an attractive, functional space, the couple turned to a trusted friend, Catherine Hodgins of Kitchens by Design in Fairville, Pa.

“They wanted a timeless kitchen, with simple white cabinets and polished nickel hardware,” Hodgins recalls. “They also love to work together at the sink, so we needed a sink that was large enough for two people to use comfortably.”

For starters, the wall defining a cramped nook adjacent to the kitchen was removed, creating a huge galley, 29 feet long and nine feet wide.

The existing kitchen was short on counter space, with a large, inefficient pantry cupboard and a seldom-used closet gobbling up square footage. Tearing out the cupboard provided a place to extend the counters, as well as upper and lower cabinets for storage. The closet was replaced with a glass-fronted upper cabinet and wood-fronted lower cabinet, a staging area for serving in the adjoining dining room.

Namibian green granite counters, a distinctive species of stone flecked with silver and black, ramp up the glamour quotient. The mosaic backsplash depicting a 16th-century map of the world was a floor sample at the tile shop.

“It was glued to the display board, so Larry soaked it off,” Jeanne Bryce recalls.

After lots of research, she chose an electric induction cooktop, which works by directly heating the pots and pans used to cook food.

“It’s as responsive as gas and the smooth surface is a dream to clean,” she says.

From left to right: The bench in the master bedroom was refreshed and renewed with a silky stripe fabric and double cording; In the formal dining room, contrasting shades of blue highlight the chair rail, with light blue above and navy below; The spacious living room; The mosaic backsplash depicting a 16th-century map of the world was a floor sample at a tile shop.

 

A Spin on the Color Wheel

When the couple bought their home the interior was a blank canvas, with white walls from top to bottom, except for a powder room painted vibrant turquoise.

Before they moved in, the Bryces settled on soft yellow for the foyer and living room and a soothing, gray-tinged blue called winter lake for the master bedroom.

“I am a believer in staying away from trendy colors because your room will look dated when the next trendy color comes along,” Jeanne says. “We pick colors because we like them, not because they are the latest style.”

In the formal dining room, contrasting shades of blue highlight the chair rail, with light blue above and navy below. 

In the kitchen, the walls are painted in Kitty Gray, a shade by Benjamin Moore that plays a cat-and-mouse game with changing light throughout the day. 

“Sometimes it’s charcoal, sometimes it’s green and sometimes it’s blueish,” she says.

 

Furnishing the House

In the living room, an elegant camel-back sofa upholstered in a subdued print of golden yellow and slate blue set the tone for the design.

“Start with one thing you love and then go from there,” Jeanne Bryce advises.

To give their home a sense of history, the Bryces have mixed antiques, reproductions and high-quality furniture discovered at second-hand and resale stores. Oriental rugs—“they go with everything,” she says—add a layer of warmth and color. 

The brass-and-glass cocktail table and Russian architectural renderings in the living room came from a favorite resource, Fabulous Finds in Centreville. The antique brass chandelier in the dining room, resplendent with etched-glass globes, reflects an era when Americans were transitioning between gas and electric light.

Larry Bryce is a bibliophile who loves having books around him. He organizes them, literally, by the book. The volumes in his collection of English literature are arranged chronologically on bookcases that flank the living room sofa, from ancient Irish sagas to the 20th century works of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. 

Jeanne Bryce, a gifted seamstress, sewed the pillows on the sofa in the living room and the floor-to-ceiling drapes in the dining room. The upholstered bench in the master bedroom was refreshed and renewed with a silky stripe fabric and double cording, the work of Jim Stafford at Creative Coverings in New Castle.

 

A Sunny Outlook

The couple enjoyed the screened porch on the back of the house, so much so that they decided to convert it into a sun room for year-round relaxation. Taylor Builders of Newport transformed the jot of a room, 11 feet by 12 feet, into a cozy retreat with heated tile floors. 

To maximize the view and access to the garden, the Bryces researched options at Chapman Windows and Doors in West Chester, ultimately combining products from three different manufacturers to get just the right fit.

“In the summer, we can open the casement windows and it’s very much like a screened porch,” Jeanne Bryce says.

Completing a series of projects requires hard work, patience and a willingness to endure the bumps in the road that accompany renovation. Larry Bryce recalls sitting among the boxes, eating his morning corn flakes with a plastic fork, the only utensil he could find. 

In the end, the couple created a home they treasure, their jewel in the city.

“If you are buying a house you will renovate, do as much as you can before you move in,” Jeanne Bryce advises. “And buy a good vacuum cleaner.”    

The antique brass chandelier in the dining room reflects an era when Americans were transitioning between gas and electric light.

Get th​e Look

  • Borrow light from adjoining spaces. With walls on both sides, the Bryce living room had only the doorway leading to a sun porch as a conduit for natural light. Their solution was to widen the doorway, add transom windows and install skylights in the sunroom, instantly brightening the living room and offering a view of the walled garden beyond.
  • Designate rooms to suit your lifestyle. As empty nesters, the Bryces don’t need lots of bedrooms. So they repurposed two guest rooms into spaces they can enjoy on a day-to-day basis. One room is now a spacious sewing room for Jeanne; another is a cozy den where the couple can read and watch TV.
  • Take a page from the classics. For a timeless look, embrace elements that never go out of style, such as Oriental rugs, fine art, subtly patterned fabrics, chairs arranged in pairs, crown moldings and hardwood floors. 
  • Create a master retreat. A pair of wing chairs or a settee tucked into the master bedroom will provide a comfy place to enjoy morning coffee, a relaxed setting for a couple to begin the day.
  • Optimize your space. The Bryces removed the wall defining a tiny breakfast nook adjacent to the kitchen, providing them with both room for casual dining, as well as a built-in desk and home office area.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

More information

Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

More information

Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
Website »

More information

Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module