Set In Stone
A Dover couple converts a 1960s brick rancher into a modern-day castle on a lake. And talk about a view.
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Custom natural cherry cabinets were crafted by Jeff Taylor, a Magnolia woodworker. His one-of-a-kind approach enabled the homeowners to specify such amenities as a built-in hutch with a beadboard backsplash and upper cabinets fronted in wavy glass that looks as if it might have been made in the 18th century.
She liked Taylor’s work so much she also asked him to make a furniture-style vanity with bun feet for a powder room and bookcases for the lower-level family room.
Filling your Rolodex with the names of gifted people in the trades is an important launching point for any home renovation. The homeowners take it a step further, relying on the pros for input in making decisions.
“It pays to ask people who do things for a living what they think of the products you are considering,” she says. “Which kitchen faucet do you get the most repair calls on? Which would you install in your own home?”
To sew valances to frame the windows, she turned to Connie Freer of Material Matters in Dover, whom she has worked with for years. For access to high-end wallpapers, she went to Lucy Findlay and Valla Rogers of Partners in Design, a firm on the city’s historic Loockerman Street.
To camouflage a low ceiling in a guest bath, Findlay and Rogers suggested covering it in a vine pattern that coordinates with the floral paper on the walls. “The pattern makes the ceiling flow with the walls so the low feeling goes away,” she says.
Damon Pla, a decorative painter from Ocean View, added unique artistic touches throughout the house, including masks of Comedy and Tragedy in the home theater. He painted wispy clouds on the vaulted ceiling of the lofty hideaway, adding a whimsical replica of the plane the home owner pilots.
The cupola also provided a home for a circa 1950 traffic light that once directed motorists at an intersection on Del. 42 in Cheswold. It hangs in the peak of the cupola as a whimsical take on a chandelier. The stairs leading to the space are pine, with a wood banister and contrasting wrought iron spindles.
“I like the contrast of the wood and the iron,” she says. “It gives it an updated edge.”
Downstairs, there is a fanciful wine tasting room. Steps that once led to the outside are now sheathed in tile, a cool place for wine storage and display. Lanterns illuminate stone walls and small kegs—another collection—lend to the ambiance. On either side of the room, Pla painted murals depicting winery views, one approaching and the other departing.
To complete the vignette, the homeowner will plant a fig tree outside the window. “It will give people the feeling of looking out at the Italian countryside,” she says.
After a yearlong renovation, the rancher on Silver Lake is no longer the same house the homeowner lived in with his folks. Yet he is certain his parents would appreciate their son’s unique interpretation of the family home.
“No question, they would love it,” he says.
GET THE LOOK
- Group like objects together. That could mean different items decorated in the same technique, as in a tole tray, screen and box, or articles that share a common color, as in Wedgwood and flow blue china.
- Make the most of the setting. In this house in Dover, windows are situated to maximize views of Silver Lake.
- Consult your inner architect. The homeowners made a statement with such details as arched passageways, soaring ceilings and a cupola.
- Create a harmonious contrast. Consider teaming wrought iron spindles with a wooden banister instead of traditional wooden spindles.
- Round out your Rolodex. Seek out the best tradespeople, as well as providers of furniture, accessories and design services. Don’t just ask for estimates. Ask for their insights on various products and techniques.