Always Just Right
Careful attention to period pieces and thoughtful renovation make this Pennwood palace perfect all year round.
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They installed white, raised-panel cabinets, granite countertops and professional-style stainless steel appliances. But they retained most of the original layout, including a second sink that can serve as a bar for entertaining.
“It was in an ideal location and the plumbing was already there,” says Peni, a financial consultant. “We were so fortunate that the house had so many nice features that were ahead of its time.”
In the expansive family room, the Warrens maintained the glazed knotty pine paneling and built-in cabinetry, but raised the 8-foot ceiling, breaking into the attic to create a dramatic, 11-foot tray ceiling. The crowning touch is an eight-arm chandelier with Italianate detailing and a plaster medallion.
“I’m a traditional person, but not period perfect,” Peni says. “I like an element of surprise, and I think a great chandelier makes a much bigger impression than a ceiling fan.”
Another unexpected touch is a cocktail table fashioned from a hammered brass tray from India mounted on a stand that came into the family in the 1950s, when relatives were teaching abroad.
Over the mantel hangs an equestrian drawing by Rehoboth Beach artist Becky Raubacher, whose name Warren already knew well from her childhood in Harrington. “Her father was my seventh-grade art teacher,” she says. It isn’t surprising that she was drawn to a rendering of a horse. Peni is the daughter of Ned Galentine, well-known in harness racing circles as a driver, trainer and judge.
The discovery of a framed drawing of cargo being loaded onto ships was pure serendipity. “We had taken another picture to the framers—and this was behind it,” Peni recalls. It is signed by American artist Henry Raleigh, the most celebrated illustrator of the 1920s.
A vintage photo vignette is dedicated to film siren Ava Gardner, who was a classmate of Mel’s father at what was then Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, North Carolina.
The exquisitely carved Italianate armoire was handed down by Mel’s aunt. Too large to make it up the stairs, it found a home in the family room, where Peni uses it as a gift-wrap station.
Marble-topped Victorian tables collected by Mel’s father lend an air of formality in the serene living room, where white upholstered sofas are grouped on a creamy carpet. The carved, built-in corner cupboards were salvaged from an 18th-century house in Chestertown, Maryland.
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