Delaware Home: A Charming Chateau
The homeowners’ French Country style exudes personal accents and whimsy.
The dining room table is made from a sheet of clear glass stationed atop Asian fish bowls from Hong Kong.
Audrey Loew admires French architecture for its elegant lines and sophisticated symmetry. Happily, she didn’t have to cross the Atlantic to find a home that reflects her European sensibilities. Her petite slice of France is located, fittingly, in Chateau Country, that lovely and lofty crescent of northern New Castle County. Initially, Loew and her husband, Doug, dropped out of the bidding when multiple offers were placed on the property. But when the original sale fell through, they circled back and soon the house was theirs. “A happy ending,” she says. Making her home a place of joy is her overarching decorating theme. The Loews’ house is a place of beauty, comfort and tranquility—with a generous dash of whimsy. “I believe everyone should surround themselves with the things they love,” she says. “My home is my haven, and I always look forward to being there.”
The two-story, 5,150-square-foot manor house reflects a French Country style with a balanced stucco facade, tall windows, twin chimneys and a large exterior forecourt. Built by Dewson Construction of Wilmington, the home was the 2001 winner of the Delaware Contractors Association. Excellence in Construction award. In addition to its architectural charm, the house offers many of the must-have amenities on the couple’s wish list: a grand foyer in which to welcome guests, a large kitchen that can accommodate family and friends, and a sumptuous, first-floor master suite with his and hers walk-in closets. Other attributes also resonated with the Loews: wide, arched portals between the rooms on the first floor for easy traffic flow, multiple open-air terraces, a cloakroom off the foyer where party guests can readily hang their coats and a heated, three-car garage. A dramatic, sweeping staircase is crowned with an illuminated rotunda. The ice cream on the gateau, so to speak: The property is located near the retirement community where Audrey’s parents live.
Audrey Loew replaced the kitchen’s center island with a statement piece that features mahogany corbels opulently carved with acanthus leaves.
Still, making the house their own required some changes. The Loews appreciated the spacious kitchen, outfitted with granite counter tops and classic white cabinetry, but wanted to enhance the French vibe. Audrey put her individual mark on the space by replacing the center island with a statement piece that features mahogany. corbels opulently carved with acanthus leaves. The contrasting top is crafted from a double-thick slab of quartz with veining reminiscent of marble, but without the maintenance issues of stone. A curved double-ogee edge is the finishing touch. The island is as functional as it is beautiful, accommodating a convection oven and casual seating for four. Overhead is a bronze chandelier with black silk shades lined in gold. “The island is so elegant it needed a chandelier over it,” she says. Even a visit to the laundry room is a visual treat, with shimmering wallpaper printed with images of peacocks. “It reminds me of Versailles,” she says. “If you are going to do laundry, you might as well give it a little glamour.”
The house reflects a French Country style and features a grand foyer.
There are French-inspired accents throughout the house, including recurring images of peacocks and other birds. The chairs that surround the mahogany table in the informal dining area are dressed in skirted slipcovers. Topiaries and groupings of moss-covered balls look as if they sprang from manicured gardens in Paris. Loew delights in both shimmer and color, touches that infuse furniture and accessories with nuance and light. She often transforms pieces she buys into one-of-a-kind objects, hand-painting metallic gold accents on the carvings on a wood console table and highlighting the tail feathers of a bronze peacock statue with a few strokes of blue. “I get out my little paint brush and add my own finishing touches,” she says. “Paint can make something completely new and different.” In the foyer, Loew added luster to a standing wood screen by highlighting crosspieces with antiqued bronze paint. In the family room, a black fireplace screen becomes a sculptural focal point with a coat of lighter, brighter paint that shows its curves and angles to better advantage.
She has a gift for mixing valuable and unique objects with everyday items, a trick of the trade long used by top interior designers. In the family room, she showcases Frederick Remington bronzes of a cowboy and a Native American on horseback. Salmon-colored pillows trimmed in tassel fringe are a sophisticated and subliminal link to the rouge marble on the fireplace surround. The decorative urns on the mantel are vases she purchased at HomeGoods and painted emerald green. The “lids” are Christmas tree ornaments. “I love shopping for things for the house,” she says. “I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, of finding something that I know will be just right.” Loew created an interesting design for her dining table, a large, rectangular sheet of clear glass stationed on top of two massive Asian fish bowls. Finding bowls large enough required extensive research, but she finally located an importer who carried just the right pieces. “So I ordered them from Hong Kong— and then I held my breath until they arrived safely,” she recalls.
The palette in the living room is soft and dreamy, an airy tableau of cloud white.
A desk the Loews bought at an estate sale 30 years ago had been tucked away in the basement of their old house for decades. Audrey found just the right spot for it in the second-floor bonus room of their new home. Serendipitously, a custom, 10-foot-long valance from their previous house was a perfect fit for the window above the desk. “It’s my husband’s man cave—his home office, as well as a place to get together with the guys and play cards,” she says. Abundant windows and doors enhance the home’s connection with its four-acre setting. The window above the soaking tub in the master bathroom provides a view of a grove of magnolia trees. The step-down formal living room boasts three sets of tall arched doors with Palladian transoms leading to the terrace.
“I especially love French doors and how they beautifully connect outdoor living spaces with the interior rooms,” she says. The palette in the living room is soft and dreamy, an airy tableau of cloud white. A mirror over the mantel reflects sunlight streaming through the French doors. Loew gravitates toward the traditional hues of France—white, gold and blue, with a touch of leopard, her signature accent print. Like a scarf accenting an outfit, she finds ways to weave snippets of leopard throughout her decor, such as covering a trio of books displayed on shelves in her family room with leopard print paper. After a few months, she might find a new spot for the books, perhaps trading places with a grouping of miniature topiaries. “I am a lover of beautiful things—and I love figuring out new ways to enjoy them,” she says.