Always Just Right
Careful attention to period pieces and thoughtful renovation make this Pennwood palace perfect all year round.
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Peni and Mel Warren have transformed their two-story, red-brick Colonial-style house in Dover from top to bottom, inside and out—all without extending the original footprint or taking down a single wall.
Built in 1974 in the upscale Pennwood neighborhood, the house offered such classic enticements as pegged hardwood floors, arched doorways with reeded columns and key pediments. The Warrens moved in with their two sons, Chase and Cameron, in 2000 and immediately embarked on what would become a 10-year plan, crossing a significant project off the list each year.
“We are the fourth—and final—owners,” Peni Warren says. “We don’t ever intend to leave.”
Their goal was to improve the house without compromising the original design, which offered large rooms, a circular flow conducive to family life and frequent entertaining, as well as a home office for Mel, an independent insurance agent. “We wanted to make the property more livable, not gut it,” Peni says.
Three days after settlement, the family began bringing the house into the 21st century. The first step was to repaint the Williamsburg blue woodwork and trim in warm white. “We had to get that blue out,” Peni recalls. “It felt icy and cold, not at all the cheerful, inviting feeling we wanted to create.”
The Warrens’ antidote to the blues was champagne, as in a light and airy palette that would provide an elegant neutral backdrop for art and family heirlooms.
That first year, their project was a major undertaking, a renovation of the kitchen and adjacent family room. In order to integrate the spaces, a pocket door between the rooms was replaced with a wide, open portal that facilitates the flow between the areas.
Expanding the opening also visually enlarges the kitchen, borrowing light and volume from both the family room and adjacent patio. To give the cook a visual connection with guests, the Warrens moved the cooktop from a counter fronting a wall to the peninsula facing the family room.
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