David Schueck and Al Schyman’s North Wilmington Cape Cod

Strategic lighting, a subdued, neutral palette and bright pops of accent color make a fixer-upper feel like a new house after a structure and décor makeover.



Owner David Schueck sits at the piano in his living room.

Photo by Ron Dubick

As David Schueck surveyed his expansive, 3,500-square-foot house, he experienced a revelation: He and his partner didn’t really need that much space. Why not move to a smaller home that would be a better fit?

“It was a lovely house but it didn’t make sense for us,” Schueck says. “All those huge rooms and all that furniture was just too much.”

Schueck figured the couple could live comfortably in about 2,500 square feet. He immediately launched a search for what he was certain would be their dream home, a jewel box that would sparkle with smart design and stylish details.

“We didn’t know where we were going,” he says. “We only knew we wanted smaller.”

In fact, the trend toward more efficient homes is growing as buyers gravitate toward properties that require less fuel to heat and cool and less physical energy to maintain. In a National Association of Home Builders survey, 59 percent of builders reported they were scaling down from McMansion proportions in response to consumer demand.

Schueck and his partner, Al Schyman, went house hunting with a meticulously defined wish list. Because they enjoy entertaining, they wanted a home with good flow and a well-equipped kitchen. A first-floor master suite was optimal, but they were willing to compromise on small guest rooms. They also required one room large enough to accommodate a grand piano for Schueck, who teaches piano and voice in addition to operating David Schueck Design Services.

Sizing Up Smaller Homes

The couple looked at more than 100 homes before making an offer on a Cape Cod on a sylvan street overlooking parkland in North Wilmington. The location was great but the house was dark and dated, with a warren of passageways and doors.

“I couldn’t see it, but David could,” Schyman says. “He has that special gift for seeing the potential in a home.”

Deciding just what to move to the new house required taking careful inventory of furniture, accessories and art. They pared back by posting larger pieces on Craig’s List and selling smaller items at yard sales.

“If you no longer need something, sell it or give it away,” Schueck advises. “Don’t clutter up your home or your life with possessions that no longer work for you.”

In the new house, he set about designing interiors that would showcase the couple’s best possessions, including a tall chest Schyman bought when he was working in Hong Kong and the lithograph of tigers that once hung in the office of Schueck’s grandfather. Also on the must-keep list were a Chippendale sofa—a classic piece he has reupholstered three times—and a clean-lined pair of contemporary black leather chairs.

“If you go with simpler things, you can always make them work,” he says.

Design Inspiration

Schueck’s influences are diverse and timeless. He is a devotee of Billy Baldwin, the Baltimore-bred decorator whose laid-back elegance captivated such clients as Cole Porter and Jackie O. He admires Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect who embraced the purity of the prairie, and Thomas Chippendale, the 18th-century London cabinet maker who also designed the rooms around his artfully carved pieces.

To attain the airy, inviting interior he envisioned, Schueck came up with a plan to open up the foyer by removing several doors. All he needed to restore the luster of the high-end cherry cabinetry in the kitchen was a little elbow grease. But the wall between the kitchen and the adjacent family room had to come down.

“I didn’t like cooking so far away from my guests,” he says. “I felt like a servant.”

He began the renovation process by interviewing four contractors. Schueck then went another round with the top two contenders before making his final choice.

At the top of the budget was money for a new roof and windows. After all, if the house wasn’t protected from the elements, all those improvements to the interior wouldn’t last long.

Painting the walls throughout the house yielded gallons of instant improvement. Dark wood flat-panel doors received a fresh coat of white paint.
“For walls, I like neutrals: sand, gray, some pale yellows,” he says. “Then accent with colors, pops of green or red, and add more color with plants.”

Tailored drapery panels frame the windows in the master bedroom. The homeowner removed the flashy gold canvas behind a framed Chinese wedding necklace and remounted it on a neutral backdrop that doesn’t compete with the intricacy of the piece. Serene hues on the walls and carpet establish a tranquil mood.

“Soothing grays and blues, floaty, relaxing colors,” he says.

Schueck has been interested in art and furniture since boyhood. “My grandmother would take me to auctions and teach me how to buy good furniture,” he says.

He was 7 years old when he spied a small wooden table at a sale. It was painted bright red but young David was struck by its sturdy grace. His grandmother encouraged him to bid on it—“and we won it for $25.”

The table was a fortuitous find. Beneath layers of paint, he discovered the original walnut finish. The piece is now in the master bedroom.

“I have taken that table with me everywhere I have ever lived,” he says. “There is always a place for it.”

Modern and Light

To give the Cape Cod a more contemporary vibe, he installed recessed lighting in the foyer and replaced sconces and chandeliers throughout the house. Out with gold and brass. In with nickel and stainless steel. “Modern and light,” he says.

He beautified a hall bathroom with a few nips and tucks rather than a full face lift. White, institutional floor tiles were ripped out and replaced with concrete for a fresh, urban sensibility. An aging double vanity was rejuvenated with a thorough sanding, followed by primer and taupe paint. The rich color and flawless finish make the piece look expensive rather than repurposed.

“I did some of the prep work but I hired a professional painter for the actual application,” he says. “I’ve found the only way to achieve that perfect surface is to leave it to the pros.”

Schueck took down a large, counter-to-ceiling mirror illuminated by a strip of Hollywood-style bulbs. He replaced them with sleek lighting sconces and a smaller beveled mirror more in keeping with the scale of the room. The big mirror now has a new home, mounted on the wall in a home gym.

The couple removed wood paneling from the walls in the family room, but retained the built-in cabinetry. Bricks salvaged from an addition built by the previous owner, found stacked in the basement, were incorporated into a new patio.

“We still have four bedrooms, only they are smaller,” Schueck says. “We found that we truly could live with less space—and live well.” 
 


GET THE LOOK

  • For a look that is eclectic but cohesive, mix old and new objects, but choose wood tones that are in the same range.
     
  • Display only your best and most meaningful pieces of art. Too many objects contribute to a sense of clutter.
     
  • Maintain a healthy balance. Avoid placing all your large objects on one side of the room. Consider floating your sofa rather than placing it against a wall.
     
  • Paint is the easiest, most economical way to establish a mood. But be judicious in painting an accent wall as it will automatically establish a focal point for the room.

 

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February 2016

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

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First Saturdays in the First State Programs and events on the first Saturday of each month. Sites are open, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., check website for details. Free admission. Something new every...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd N
43 The Green
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 302-739-9194
Contact Name: Sarah Zimmerman
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Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
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Kennett Township Building
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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

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More information

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
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View map »


Website »

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Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

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Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on February 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. The cost of the...

Cost: Call for information.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-629-6611x2446
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
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Cost: Depends on what you purchase

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30336 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Contact Name: Valery Cordrey
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Join us every Tuesday for this fun and educational enrichment activity. Students will learn to draw pictures from a variety of themes, including woodland animals, creatures by the sea, creepy...

Cost: $10

Where:
Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church
500 McKennans Church Rd
Room 206
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Join us every Tuesday for this fun and educational enrichment activity. Students will learn to draw pictures from a variety of themes, including woodland animals, creatures by the sea, creepy...

Cost: $10

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500 McKennans Church Rd
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Wilmington, DE  19808
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Participants must be at least 18 years old to register and be able to attend all sessions. For more information, contact Terry Towne, RN, at 744-6724, or teresa_towne@bayhealth.org...

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Bayhealth Kent General
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640 S. State St.
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, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

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Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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It's a jam session, it's a dance party, it's a live show—and it always features the hottest talent on the scene! Sittin' In is the free monthly jam session at the Kimmel...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kimmel Center - Commonwealth Plaza
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA  19102
View map »


Sponsor: Kimmel Center
Website »

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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, DE

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Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet each Thursday for a total of five...

Cost: $50

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Rd.
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
Contact Name: Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator
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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

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, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
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View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Playing folk, Americana and blues, Sand Creek is a central Delaware institution of a band.   Friends of Folk is a nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion and preservation...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
The Old State House
25 The Green
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 739-9194
Website »

More information

Art, the fourth element of hip-hop, comes alive for enthusiasts of both art and hip-hop. Let your inner creativity and love for hip-hop hit the canvas. "All I Need" is...

Cost: $40

Where:
Humpty's Dumplings
277 N Keswick Ave
Glenside, PA  19038
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Paint Nites
Telephone: 267-312-8339
Contact Name: Charisse R McGill
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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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Christiana Care at the New Castle Farmers Market Location: New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, Market Stage Area Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Routine screenings for...

Where:
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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Show More...
Show Less...

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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