Rooms to Roam

When family visits, this Lewes couple's spacious home is highly accommodating

By Lynn R. Parks | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the April 2014 Issue

On a gray winter day, as the occasional snowflake drifts from the sky, three deer wander through the woods behind the Hawkseye development near Lewes. They surely don’t realize it, but very close to their path, where the woods give way to Steve and Cathy Stanzione’s backyard, are several works of art.

The Stanziones’ daughter Rachel is a sculptor. And the ceramics she made more than two decades ago as part of her senior project in college — blue, brown and orange abstracts — are on display behind her parents’ home.

“I brought all her ceramics home when she finished school,” says Steve, who is watching the deers’ progress through glass doors. “I couldn’t throw them away. I kept them in the basement and when we moved here, I put them outside.”

The couple moved into their home in June. Former residents of Spring Lake, N.J., both are retired, she as a nurse practitioner and he as a hematologist. They moved to Delaware to take advantage of its low taxes, to Lewes because they wanted to be near the beach, and to Hawkseye because they like its proximity to town as well as to Cape Henlopen State Park and the Junction & Breakwater bicycle trail.

They first saw what would become their new home when it was still under construction by The Lewes Building Co. They immediately liked its layout, with an open floor plan as well as several reading nooks tucked here and there. When Cathy expressed concern that the kitchen was not as large as the one she was used to, Steve reminded her that as retirees, they probably wouldn’t be cooking as much as they had been. And when both worried that the 5,200-square-foot home was too small to accommodate their family — they have five adult children and 14 grandchildren — they decided to finish the full basement. Total living area of the house now is 6,700 square feet.

“This is a big house, but we are used to a big house,” Steve says. “And we use it all. I take showers in different places, just to make sure that everything is working right.”

It is from the basement that Steve and Cathy watch the three deer on that winter day. Steve says that when they first saw the basement, only one small part of it, nearest the stairs, was finished. “We walked down the steps and saw all that empty space, and I said, ‘Well, we’ve got to use all of this for something.’”

Blue Heron Builders, of Felton, did the finishing work in the basement. Now, that space is home to a living room (large enough for the Stanziones’ grand piano), as well as a wine cellar, a workroom, an exercise room, an office, a full bath and a storage area.

Upstairs, on the ground floor, are a great room, with living and dining areas and a kitchen, along with an office and the master bedroom suite. Next to the gas fireplace in the living area is a large, four-panel oil-on-canvas painting by the Stanziones’ son-in-law Glen Cebulash, an artist and a teacher at Wright State University near Dayton, Ohio. The painting depicts a group of housepainters, hard at work.

Just off the dining area is a screened porch that features a wood-burning fireplace. On nice days, Cathy says, she opens the doors and windows so that the porch and the dining area become one.

Countertops in the kitchen are gray-and-white marble. The sink’s single faucet, shaped like an upside-down J, can be turned on in the traditional way, with a lever, or the new-fangled way, with just the wave of a hand: Sensors embedded in the metal detect the motion and release, or stop, the flow of water.

Both the master bedroom and the living area have large windows that look out onto the backyard. The master bath also has gray-and-white marble countertops as well as marble tiles on the floor and walls. The entrance to the walk-in shower is tucked behind a floor-to-ceiling mirror.

Upstairs is a balcony that looks out over the great room. Reading nooks dot this space, one at the back of the house and two at the front. The largest nook features a built-in desk next to a set of double doors that open onto an exterior balcony at the front of the house.

Also upstairs are three guest bedrooms.

In mid-winter, on the same day that she and Steve see the deer, Cathy says she is gradually getting things placed in her new home as she wants them. With paintings and photographs still sitting in boxes, though, “it’s a work in progress.”

That’s not the case with the backyard. Rachel’s ceramic pieces are there to stay, regardless of sun, rain or snow, Steve says.

As for how the deer feel about that, they aren’t saying.

Lynn Parks writes from her home near Seaford, where deer occasionally visit the backyard.