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Not your father's bachelor pad

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With Dr. Who and cereal, a N. Wales home of his own

Brendan Detwiler's house defies expectations of how a bachelor pad should look.

The classic porch-fronted house in a quaint neighborhood of North Wales is neither a soulless landscape of sleek and minimalist leathers, nor a portrait of shag rugs and boxy double-reclining seats.

Instead, the atmosphere pulses with Detwiler's unique styling: a masterful mix of comfort, flair, and antiques. Even more so, the house evokes his penchant for nostalgia while playing host to his artistic anomalies.

Enchanting objects, colorful collections, and fascinating replicas created by Detwiler dwell throughout. It's a man cave of curious.

"I've always liked things that are old and from my past," says Detwiler, 47, smiling. "And I enjoy creating things."

Detwiler, whose day job is working in the loan department of Bryn Mawr Trust, happened upon the house in 2009, in the midst of the thundering recession, which allowed him to purchase it during a buyer's market.

"I didn't have a lot of cash to work with. The owners had staged it nicely, and the price was right. It drew me in," he says.

Upon entering the structure, built in 1917, visitors are confronted at the bottom of the stairs by Detwiler's remarkable reproduction of the Dalek, an extraterrestrial made famous on Doctor Who, the long-running British sci-fi series.

"I've been a fan of the show for years," he says.

It took Detwiler seven months to construct the shiny, brass-hued cyborg, using particle board, wood, and Bondo (a plastic body filler used on cars and boats), and an additional seven months to build the red Dalek that guards the dining room.

Another Doctor Who artifact, the Tardis, resides in the backyard. Detwiler built the blue police box, used by the doctor to jet through time and space, out of PVC material.

In the dining room stands a life-size figure of Punch, the smug tobacconist character popularized by the cigar brand of the same name.

"We used to go to the Mercer Museum when I was growing up. I was fascinated by a Punch figure there," Detwiler says.

Just below the ceiling, a shelf holds his Mego Toy action figures. Relying on modern technology, Detwiler made vintage-like boxes for each figure.

He also made box reproductions of cereals he loved as a kid: Honeycomb; Boo Berry; Frankenberry; and more. The art form celebrates the pulp illustrations, yellowy hues, and scripted glyphs of yesteryear.

No doubt, the real masterpiece is Detwiler's expertly crafted, scale model of the Shore house his family owned in Ocean City when he was a kid.

"I was a teenager when it was sold. I knew I'd want to remember it," Detwiler says.

At the time, he took 15 pictures of the two-bedroom cottage with his Kodak Instamatic and was able to clone the house from them.

Each of the rooms and items (with the exception of the toilet and the black rotary telephone) was handmade by him, including the kitchen's fruit-and-vegetable wallpaper, wall paneling, window flower boxes, yellow jalousie door, and bunk beds.

Making art isn't Detwiler's only pastime. He's also a collector of antiques and scours thrift stores when he can. A 1930s Zenith TV and refinished cabinet occupy the living room, along with an early American sofa and rocker rescued from Impact Thrift Stores.

The dining room boasts a century-old mirror and buffet belonging to Detwiler's paternal grandfather, as well as a cherry desk from the old J.B. Van Sciver Furniture Co. that he picked up for $50. Adding intrigue: period black-and-white aerial snapshots of North Wales and an old fire extinguisher.

Shelves hanging in the stairwell hold his vast assortment of vintage beers cans, many collected on eBay. From various nooks and crannies, the spritely, devilish elf, Kamar Dickens, is seen peeking at passersby.

More proof of Detwiler's love of the old is the mid-century Formica-and-metal dinette table and wooden chairs in the gray-and-white kitchen (with the exception of its black appliances). His collections of retro trivets and refrigerator magnets add whimsy to the room.

Detwiler's early roots are embedded in North Wales because he grew up in the area. But these days, other attributes about the town make him want to stay.

"There's a breakfast cafe within walking distance. Plus, the train station is close," he notes. "It's a nice, quiet town."


The living room (left) and dining room, complete with a cigar store Punch in the middle. He used to see such a figure at the Mercer Museum.

A scale model of Detwiler's grandparents' Ocean City, N.J, cottage. The roof comes off to show how the cottage looked inside.

The decor includes Brendan Detwiler's own reproductions of boxes of cereals he loved as a kid.

In the backyard, a replica of a time machine from "Dr. Who."

Brendan Detwiler and a row of his Mego action figures from the '70s.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Laughlin, Catherine (2016-01-10). Not your father's bachelor pad. The Philadelphia Inquirer p. J8.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Laughlin, Catherine. "Not your father's bachelor pad." The Philadelphia Inquirer [add city] 2016-01-10, J8. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Laughlin, Catherine. "Not your father's bachelor pad." The Philadelphia Inquirer, edition, sec., 2016-01-10
  • Turabian: Laughlin, Catherine. "Not your father's bachelor pad." The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2016-01-10, section, J8 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Not your father's bachelor pad | url= | work=The Philadelphia Inquirer | pages=J8 | date=2016-01-10 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Not your father's bachelor pad | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 December 2023}}</ref>