New—And Instantly Improved

A Pike Creek owner goes from plain vanilla to sumptuous, thanks to a bit of wrought iron and other fine design choices.

(page 1 of 3)

Family room walls are faux-finished to resemble Tuscan plaster. (Photograph by John Lewis)A new house is not a home. It’s a bare canvas. The  thought of personalizing a new property—a five-bedroom, 5,200-square-foot Toll Brothers colonial kind of property—can be intimidating.

Intimidating, that is, unless you’re a petite but gutsy mother of three like Linda Mulvihill. Four years ago, when Mulvihill, a consultant at GB At Your Service!, and her husband, Mark, an anesthesiologist at Christiana Hospital, bought the Chesapeake-style house, they became part of North Star Chase, a new subdivision with a Newark zip code and a Pike Creek feel.

Decorating duties fell to Linda, and all went smoothly—until she halted construction.

“I said, ‘Stop. What are you doing?’” seconds before builders pounded wooden spindles into the steps of her two-story, grand staircase, Mulvihill says. She nearly ripped the drills from their hands. “I wanted wrought iron and I was going to get it.”

An Italian crystal chandelier helps the formal dining room to sparkle. (Photograph by John Lewis)Indeed, Mulvihill got the wrought-iron spindles. Then she opted to carry the element from the inside to the outside, distinguishing the home from other similarly sized properties in the neighborhood. Wrought-iron gates now surround a garden of roses and wildflowers, then guide a curved path toward the columned portico entrance. The iron is reintroduced in the foyer’s staircase, so when you enter the home, you feel as if you’ve brought a bit of the garden with you.

Mulvihill’s goal was to combine Asian and Italian influences for a casually elegant feel. To make it happen, she hired Joyce Keeney, senior designer and founder of Interior Concepts in Hockessin. The two found ways to blend the cultures with color and texture. Mulvihill loves red, so Keeney blended strong hues with subdued colors found in carpets, throw pillows and drapes. Keeney and Mulvihill created cohesiveness by purchasing most of the furniture from EJ Victor Upholstery, based in North Carolina, and most of the lighting fixtures from Fine Art Lamps, based in Florida.

“I always try to make things comfortable, but they end up looking more formal than I want,” Mulvihill says. “Joyce helped me blend the formal with the comfortable.”

The kitchen’s dining area is a great spot for family meals and for doing homework. (Photograph by John Lewis)Upon entering the home, the eye is drawn immediately to the living room at right, where a jeweled chandelier hangs over a black Yamaha grand player piano. The living room is formal yet warm, appropriate for entertaining colleagues and for sipping hot chocolate with the kids.



Page 2: New–And Instantly Improved