Small Features, Big Impact

Designing a custom home, renovation, or addition gives you the opportunity to take full control of your future living space. From the big details down to the tiniest features, you have the ability to tailor your space in a way that complements your lifestyle and transforms your house into your home.

However, the most impactful design decisions often come from the seemingly small, personal touches that are added with careful consideration. From monograms and millwork to dovecotes and cupolas, we are highlighting six details that will enhance the personality of your home.


Monograms allow your family to leave an elegant, personal mark on your home for future generations. Traditionally, monograms were used on cloth or furniture, but there are also creative ways to permanently incorporate monograms into the home itself. This can include adding your family’s initials to wood, metal, or tiled elements of your home.

Multipurpose Millwork

Looking at the millwork in your home with a critical eye could allow you to take something of utility and transform it into a design statement. Whether camouflaging doors, appliances, entertainment equipment, or extra storage space, multipurpose millwork allows you limitless possibilities in your home. This could include hidden doors that close off a room when needed or neatly tuck away to open a space. Multipurpose millwork is all about versatility in design.


Despite their beauty, beams in early homes were functional in nature — they were a critical structural component to a sturdy home. If you enjoy the charm of ceiling beams, there are ways to incorporate beams in a purely decorative way. An array of styles ranges from reclaimed hand-hewn beams and re-sawn beams to new wood and painted beams. Whichever style you choose, beams are a design detail that can speak volumes. Beams can lend a deep rustic energy to a home, bring a sense of strength to a room when precisely cut or painted, or create drama in a formal space when added to vaulted ceilings.

Fireplace Design

Fireplaces add warmth to a space both figuratively and functionally. They act as a centerpiece for design and can dictate the overall experience of a room. For example, a graceful, polished fireplace can emphasize a formal space, while a cozy, rustic one creates a relaxed environment. Fireplaces are also versatile and can be designed for almost any room in the house including living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms.


Cupolas were traditionally used on barn roofs to help keep everything inside cool and dry, especially hay. In recent times, cupolas are also used as a creative way to bring more character to a home. Cupolas can be designed with glass windowpanes to allow more light into a room, adorned with shapes that echo the architectural style of the house, or topped with weathervanes or finials that show off the personality and interests of the homeowners. If you are considering adding a cupola to your home, be sure to have fun with the design.

Gable Details

Many design features that we see in homes today originated from a practical need. Louvered vents were traditionally used for attic ventilation and airflow regulation, while dovecotes created small nooks to house domesticated messenger birds. When detailing gables, the incorporation of an overhang, louvered vent, or dovecote can help bring additional charm and character to your home’s exterior. While these elements may be used purely for ornamentation, present-day interpretations of traditional design details can still serve a functional purpose, such as holding modern mechanical systems or creatively hiding attic vents and other small spaces created by pitched roofs.

A simple touch goes a long way

At Period, our design team works closely in collaboration with homeowners to incorporate thoughtful architectural details into the home. Sometimes the seemingly small design decisions are the ones that can tailor a home the most, so don’t underestimate the power of simple touches to elevate your home from a good design to a great design. Thoughtful personalization is one of many bespoke characteristics that contribute to making your house feel like a home.

Home Design with Furry Friends in Mind

Pets fill our homes with love, loyalty, and joy. They make us laugh with their bizarre quirks and touch our hearts with their keen understanding of human emotion. Being a pet owner is a lifestyle and ensuring the design of your home matches the needs of you and your tail-wagging companion is important to consider when given the opportunity to design, or redesign, your home.

Having a pet shouldn’t mean waving goodbye to elevated design. These are three critical questions to consider that will help you elegantly reclaim your living space while enhancing your pet’s home experience and your own.

Question #1: Does your pet have free range of the home or do they need a contained area?

The beginning of the design process is the best time to discuss all the ways you and your pets use your home. Maybe you don’t want Daisy in the dining room during dinner, or Buddy burrowing through bedrooms when everyone is out of the house. Understanding these expectations early in the design process means we can tailor your home to your needs. Through this planning, we incorporate architectural elements that enhance the experience of your home while also creating a space that works for your lifestyle.

Two common canine-friendly home additions are pet gates and Dutch doors. With thoughtful design, gates can add a beautiful touch to a room without even being recognized for their intended purpose. Dutch doors come with versatility. Close both sections when you’re looking for privacy or leave the top section open when you want to keep an eye on your pet or just need a quick sectioned-off area of your home for muddy paws.

Question #2: What does bath time look like?

Every other facet of caring for your companion comes with great joy, but bath time can be a struggle without a dedicated washing area. Even if your pet is well behaved and loves baths, bending over for a prolonged amount of time is likely to leave you with a backache for days.  For this reason, we pay particular attention to grooming needs.

If you don’t like sending Gracie to the groomer and plan to bathe her yourself, we want to make sure you are both comfortable, so bubble-time is a breeze. Having a dedicated pet shower, or even a dedicated animal zone in your home, makes regular bath time much easier.

Animal showers can be designed with a raised platform for smaller pets allowing you to quickly wash them without bending over. For large pets, especially for big dog breeds, a walk-in shower with retractable faucets help to contain the craziness that may come when bath time begins. This design allows you to avoid lifting them into and out of the wash area or wrestle them to keep them in the shower. If you’re upgrading to a dog shower from outdoor hose baths, then you’ll have the added benefit of being able to adjust the water temperature. When bath time is over, having a contained dog area allows them to step right out of the shower and into a part of the house where they can air-dry without getting the rest of the house wet in the process.

Question #3: What kind of outdoor access do you want your pet to have?

A third major design element to consider is the kind of outdoor access you want your pets to have. Can Bailey bounce in and out of the house as he pleases? Is Piper not to put a paw anywhere near your garden?

At the beginning of our design process, we start with a master plan – an overhead view of the layout of the property. With a general idea of outdoor space, we are able to designate if pets will have access to roam the landscape as they wish, or if there should be designated spaces for them to explore. By incorporating these areas, like wide open dog runs or covered patios, specifically with pets in mind, we are able to ensure an elevated experience within the other spaces reserved for homeowners’ exclusive use.

Accessing these pet-centric spaces could mean considering the placement of a pet door. By incorporating a pet door in the initial design, it helps to plan out the dog-specific areas of the home, both inside and out. Deciding the location of these spaces also allows us to ensure there are plenty of windows in the design that allow supervision while furry friends frolic.

A home for every member of your family

Every family has a unique lifestyle, with differing personal style preferences, interests, and needs. At Period Architecture, we work early in the design process to learn about your family’s lifestyle to create a design best suited for your needs, without sacrificing style or comfort. Many families we work with have busy lives with children and a four-legged friend running around their yards. Our team considers the needs of every one of your family members, including the furry ones, throughout the design process to compose a home experience that you will enjoy for years to come.

Second Annual 12 Days of Giving

Join us in spreading holiday joy!

This year we are excited to host another 12 Days of Giving holiday toy drive benefitting CityTeam. Please consider joining our firm in donating children’s toys to spread Christmas cheer in the Philadelphia area.

To participate, drop off unwrapped toys to our offices in Malvern and Doylestown, or simply follow the link below to the Amazon Wish List and your donations will be sent directly to our office. We will deliver the toys to CityTeam in Chester, PA, the week of December 18th.

We were overwhelmed by the participation and interest in last year’s drive, and hope to donate even more this year! If you’re interested in learning more about CityTeam, their mission, or donating to this organization directly, visit their website at

Visit the Amazon Wish List here: Period Architecture’s 12 Days of Giving

2023 Chester County Day House Tour

We are delighted to sponsor and participate in the 82nd annual Chester County Day House Tour this year on Saturday, October 7th. In addition to being a Gold Sponsor, we are proud to have three properties featured along the tour, including our very own office in Malvern as well as two historic homes that were designed and renovated with the expertise of our team.

The nation’s oldest house tour, Chester County Day is organized by the Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital. Each year, the tour provides visitors with an opportunity to witness historic sites and scenes familiar to Revolutionary-Era figures like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. This tour embodies the core values of our firm in its dedication to preserving and celebrating history through the built environment. We are thrilled to play a role in Chester County Day’s continued efforts to showcase these timeless homes.

Continue reading below as we delve into the history and design process behind each of our featured properties on this year’s house tour and don’t forget to purchase your tickets by visiting:


Chester County Day - Period Architecture Chester County Office

Less than a week after the Battle of the Brandywine in September of 1777, George Washington and his men clashed again with British troops at the Battle of the Clouds. Washington’s men surrounded the farmhouse now occupied by Period Architecture as they prepared to battle British troops located to the south.

Edward Kennison was the constable of Whiteland Township in 1711 and the proprietor of Malvern’s White Horse Tavern from 1722 – 1735. His farm, located along Church Road, has stood as a silent spectator to historic moments and everyday lives of Pennsylvanians since revolutionary times. Historical records show this building has served many purposes since Kennison’s time, as a tavern, general store, hospital, private residence and now a professional office.

The central portion of the farmhouse is believed to have been built in the 1740s, with two additions created on either side in later years. The home is constructed of locally sourced fieldstone, with three doors marking three eras of additions. Inside, the central room features a bake oven, walk-in fireplace once used as the main source for cooking. A small drawer under the window facing Swedesford Road harkens back to the building’s time as a storefront.

The addition closest to Church Road features two fireplaces with federal style millwork on the main level. Today it is used as a library and conference room, filled with books that inspire the traditional vernacular architecture found in Period Architecture’s designs. The two-story addition to the East is differentiated by its shed roofline on the exterior with its first level utilized as a modern-day kitchen when occupied as a residence in the 20th and 21st centuries. The space, now used as a print room and kitchenette, features the original wood beams and random-width hardwood flooring.

When Period Architecture acquired the property in 2017, the firm made minor changes to the home including choosing a more historically appropriate color palette, allowing the original character and features to shine through. Custom wrought iron strap hinges were created for the main entry door and powder room to replicate colonial era hardware. The historical details throughout the building are often used as inspiration and models for the firm’s clients looking to add similar character to their homes. The Edward Kennison House has stood the test of time and continues to be a shining example of early American design.


Nestled within 1.9 private acres of wooded land in Malvern, the 1814 Schoolhouse Residence honors its early history as a place for learning while fulfilling its new role as a place for family.

Soon after the first Welsh and English settlers homesteaded in Great Valley, they established schools to educate their children. The Presbyterian Congregation of Tredyffrin, established in 1714 and still serving the local community today, began one of the first schools in the area operating out of one of the church buildings. In 1814, the congregation constructed this schoolhouse across the street. After the end of the Civil War, the population in the community increased as the Pennsylvania Railroad developed small towns along the main line. As a result, more schools were required to accommodate the increasing number of students in the area. Reflected on the datestone on the exterior façade, in 1886, the schoolhouse joined the Tredyffrin public school system and was known as “Tredyffrin Public School No. 3” or simply “The Presbyterian School,” although it only contained one classroom and employed one teacher at a time. 

The primary school operated for the next 40 years until the fall of 1927 when two new schools opened in the area and the Presbyterian School, one of the last one-room schools in Tredyffrin, was closed and sold. In the years since its closure, the schoolhouse has been converted into a residence, with its current owners purchasing the home in the summer of 2015.

In 2020, the now 4,800-square-foot home received a renovation and addition designed by Period Architecture and constructed by E.C. Trethewey Builders. Prior to the addition, the footprint of the home existed within the confines of the original schoolhouse. To create a more functional family home with centralized, cozy gathering spaces, the floorplan was reorganized and expanded. Notably, the kitchen and family room were relocated to the two-and-a-half story addition. These new living spaces feature abundant sunshine and scenic views of the property previously obstructed by a dense stucco façade.

An example of historic adaptive reuse, the 1814 Schoolhouse Residence renovation incorporates traditional architectural details into the new design, always placing its history at the forefront. From the front, the Pennsylvania schoolhouse silhouette is highlighted while the addition sits discreetly behind. The original vertical board porch gable siding, exposed rafters and column details were incorporated throughout the addition’s exterior. Inspired by the style of its 1886 counterpart, a new datestone on the family room stone chimney marks the additions moment in time.

On the interior, two nineteenth-century school desk chairs are proudly displayed in the foyer as an homage to the home’s past life as a schoolhouse. While the building itself has undergone many changes in form throughout the decades, it remains a nurturing space for learning and growth.


One mile from Valley Forge National Park stands Three-Throned Manor. Standing along old Nutts Road in Valley Forge, this property witnessed George Washington on his many trips to Bull Tavern during the Revolutionary War. The original road can still be seen on the property as the flat area of the lawn immediately in front of the stone wall. Originally constructed in 1802 by John Gwinn, the home is a wonderful representation of an eighteenth-century Chester County farmhouse.

The home has seen many occupants in its 200+ years as well as different ways to utilize the space such as an inn and later a country store. With its two front doors, the main door enters the central hall and family living area, the other into what might have been the common rooms of the inn which are the current dining room and kitchen. In 1860, Joseph Valentine opened a country store in the home, probably using the current dining room as the store, with the current kitchen as the storeroom. There is a smoke house in the attic that was used during this time which features Mr. Valentine’s name written on the slide for the stove pie in the door to the smoke house.

A typical building technique of the era, the stones were quarried directly from the property, in an area just north of the house, currently occupied by an apple orchard. The best stones were reserved for use at the front of the home, next best placed on the sides, and the rear utilized the oddly sized or shaped stones. Additionally, the most expensive, time-consuming German pointing was used on the front and sides of the home, with plainer, less expensive pointing on the rear. The stones on the rear of the home were covered with horsehair plaster but has since been removed to expose the beauty of the stone.

A remarkable feature of this property, and its cheeky namesake, is the original stone privy. It is a “three-holer” and has been restored for modern use for firewood storage. The roof and seats have been reconstructed utilizing mature wood; however, the door is original to the structure. 

In 2014, the current homeowners enlisted Period Architecture and Devon Construction to reimagine the home to better suit their everyday lives. The renovation and two-story addition were designed to create a safer and more private family entrance as well as provide the necessary space for a growing family. The new spaces include a sun-filled breakfast room, ample kitchen to prepare meals and hurry off the kids to school, a family room large enough for everyone to gather, along with a primary suite, mudroom, and garage. The new spaces respect the original character of the home by incorporating similar materials such as reclaimed wood beams, character grade random width hardwood floors, herringbone antique brick floors, restored fireplace mantels, beadboard wainscot and exposed interior stone walls. The home now tells the tale of an eighteenth-century home expanded over time to suit modern-day lifestyles.