A House at the Lake–Almost

Inspired by their favorite vacation spot, the Goloskovs turn their year-round home into a getaway.

A painting of belted Galway cattle, like the
ones that graze just down the road, hangs
above the mantel in the gathering room.
Photograph by John M. Lewis


For many years, Joan Goloskov lived in Wilmington, enjoying city life with her husband, Stan, and their young daughter.

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But each year, for two idyllic weeks, the family would head to Sebago Lake in southwestern Maine, where they found peace among the pines and tranquil waters.

After each visit, the family would reflect on their vacation and share the same thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to live in the country year-round?

“We loved our time up there so much, we were thinking of something that would bridge that gap the other 11½ months of the year,” Joan says.

For five years, the Goloskovs searched without success for just the right property.

Then Stan pedaled by what would become the couple’s country home as he biked along a rural road just over the Pennsylvania line.

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But he never would have imagined it was his dream house.

Waist-high grass surrounded the property, which had been empty for three years. A “For Sale” sign had fallen over long ago.

At 6,000 square feet, the country house was more than twice the size of the Goloskovs’ city home. And the couple’s daughter, then a junior in high school, would be leaving the nest within the next few years.

But sometimes, upsizing is the best fit.

“Because of the layout, this house was just right for us,” Joan says. “In the city, we watched TV in one room, hung out in the kitchen and slept in the bedrooms. In this house, we use all the space, every room.”

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Still, the Goloskovs had to convince themselves the house was worth the effort it would take to make it livable.

“When we came through, the owner was gracious enough to let us bring tradespeople with us,” Joan recalls. “We came in with roofers, carpenters, hardwood floor installers, you name it.”

Happily, they discovered the house was constructed with sturdy steel beams. The roof and the electrical systems were sound.

But some changes would have to be made immediately, such as ripping out the dated carpet in the bathrooms and putting down floors of ceramic tile. That was 11 years ago, and only the first of what would be many projects the Goloskovs would undertake as they transformed the house inside and out.

The dining table, made of tiger maple,
came from a furniture maker in Virginia.
Photograph by John M. Lewis

The kitchen already featured such niceties as a custom tile on the backsplash and counter top of the central island. The space required only a few upgrades, including the installation of a wine refrigerator. Formica counter tops were replaced with Corian.

Goloskov consulted with interior designer Nancy Conklin of Wilmington to help pull the living spaces together.

“Working with Nancy was terrific,” she says. “She understands what I want and enhances my style.”

Conklin suggested bridging the space between the kitchen and gathering room with a cozy seating area with two inviting upholstered chairs, which were ideal for reading or enjoying a view of the woods.

A soft beige glaze on the walls in the foyer, dining room and gathering space gives an open floor plan a sense of continuity. It’s a sophisticated alternative to plain Jane white walls, with a subtly shaded palette that is palest in the foyer and deepest in the gathering room.

“It’s all the same color,” Goloskov says. “The decorative painter just modified the glaze.”

The gathering room is decorated in a classic hunt theme, with a leather sofa, a pair of tapestry chairs with gracefully carved arms and legs, and an armoire hand painted in a pastoral scene. A painting of belted Galway cattle, a rendition of the distinctive black and white herd grazing just down the road, hangs above the mantel of a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.

Joan and Nigel enjoy the library.
Photograph by John M. Lewis

To complement the room’s soaring ceiling, Goloskov commissioned a shop in St. Michaels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to make a large chandelier from twigs and electric candles.

“I always know what my next project will be, and I’m on the lookout for things that will complement that project,” she says.

Sometimes, Goloskov buys on instinct. At a shop in Maine, she bought more than a dozen hand-carved wooden balls—every ball in the store—certain she would find the right place for them. The balls, painted in geometric black-and-red patterns, met their perfect match in a rustic wine basket, which she placed under a sofa table crafted from an antique door.

In the dining room, her collection of tureens is displayed in a corner cupboard with a barrel back made in 1790. Its mellow wood, dentil moldings, graceful proportions and original hardware make it her favorite piece in the house.

“When they put me in the nursing home and say, ‘You can only bring one thing,’ this will be it,” she says.

A large country dining table with a distinctively grained tiger maple top came from a furniture maker in Virginia.

“We picked the style of leg and the size of the top,” Goloskov says. “He put it together and drove it up to us.”

The couple is keen on art, especially pieces that conjure images of their favorite places. A field of sunflowers reminds them of France. A portrait of a moose is reminiscent of Maine. An autumnal mask in the shape of leaves—mounted on a forked bough from the woods outside—was discovered in Venice. 

Tall windows provide great views
of surrounding woods.
Photograph by John M. Lewis

“I carried it on the plane with me because I was afraid it would break,” Goloskov recalls.

The couple outfitted a large first-floor master suite with spacious, custom his and hers closets, gifts they gave to each other. Thoughtfully planned storage spares them the task of moving off-season clothing. It also keeps the bedroom streamlined and serene, without dressers or bureaus.

Upstairs, there are two welcoming guest rooms, each with a private bath.

“We have a lot of friends from out of town, and our daughter and her husband visit, too,” Goloskov says. “It’s great that when they visit they can have their own space.”

A walkout lower level provides room for home offices, as well as informal entertaining. The couple transformed one of their many closets into a wet bar. Outside, there’s a fire pit and a patio for al fresco dining.

“There’s a great flow between the two levels for entertaining,” Goloskov says. “There are people upstairs, people on the deck, people by the fire pit.”

The busy empty nesters—she’s a real estate agent, he’s a dentist—sweat off the stress of their careers in a home gym, a room that gets a daily workout.

Their delight in the gym inspired the Goloskovs to make plans for their latest project, a sauna for two. When that’s complete, they’ll move on to the next home improvement, continuing to refine their plan.

“My husband says when a house is no longer a work in progress, it’s time to move,” she says.


Recreate the feeling of a favorite vacation place in your year-round home.

The Goloskovs, who love Sebago Lake in Maine, infused their decor with natural woodsy touches.

Try before you buy. The Goloskovs are appreciators of art. They’ve learned that one way to ensure a good match between art and collector is to live with a piece before making a decision. Many galleries and museums rent or loan art to prospective owners. Frequently, the rental fee is applied toward the purchase price.

Integrate the outdoors. Views of the woods around the couple’s home create a lovely vista that changes with the seasons.

Organization is beautiful. The Goloskovs built large his and hers closets in their master suite, enabling them to streamline their bedroom and designate a seating area.

 —Eileen Smith Dallabrida


In the market for a golf cart?
L.H. Webb & Sons Market’s got ’em.
Photograph by Amanda Waide

Beyond Plants
Looking for a new golf cart? Good cuppa joe? Local nurseries offer more than greenery.  A random sampling…

When the wind howls and the skies remain gray, the local garden center is rarely on your list of stops. But it should be. Several garden centers offer more than plants, containers and potting soil.

The owners of Old Country Gardens (414 Wilson Road, Wilmington, 652-3317) hit the gift shows in January for orders that start arriving in February. Along with spring wreaths, artificial orchids and pottery, you’ll find the latest for your table, including ceramic and glass statues. “You’ll never know what you’ll run into,” says president Steve Keulmann.

Ronny’s Garden World (

5580 Dupont Pkwy., Smyrna

, 653-6288) is famous for holiday decorations. Visit its Trim-a-Tree Shop to find just about anything you could need. Ronny’s will re-open in the spring.

L.H. Webb & Sons Market (6975 Bay Road, Frederica, 335-5841) carries an impressive array of jams, relishes and preserves, including products from Braswell, in addition to garden goodies. The shop will re-open in March.

Walls Farm & Garden Center (

833 S. Dupont Hwy., Milford

, 422-4565) sells woodstoves, pellet stoves and Frigidaire appliances. And that’s not all. “We do four-wheelers, golf carts—we’ve got like so many different things here,” says salesman Mark Ford.

Always the Garden (1215 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, 798-6030) sells seasonal flags and wind chimes all year. Come March, the shop will start selling Yankee Candle’s spring fragrances.

Wind chimes are on display year round at J. Franklin Styer Nurseries (914 Baltimore Pike, Concordville, Pa., 610-459-2500). The store also carries indoor and outdoor statuary, indoor wall decorations, a limited selection of jewelry, fountains, decorative lighting, and glassware. Novelty items include reproductions of antique balance toys. Vice president Michael Petrie also makes birdhouses.           —Pam George


Students at work.

Painting in Numbers
In transforming a church, a group of students learns painting techniques that could transform their homes.

Would-be faux painters can get real through the Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program, a hands-on initiative that helps budding artists learn techniques, then apply them to projects that beautify worthy spaces.

The program was inspired by Bernadette Forese, a master faux painter from

Kennett Square

who collaborated with Marlow and Brita DeBars, master decorative painters from Connecticut. Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program’s first project created European-style finishes for the interior of St. Cornelius Catholic Church in Chadds Ford.

In what turned out to be a divine partnership, top decorative painters taught 38 apprentices, who traveled from as far as Canada, paying a fee to brush up on such techniques as wood graining, marbling, gold leafing, stenciling, mural and sky painting, glazing and Venetian plaster.

The techniques can beautify sacred spaces and commercial places, as well as the homes of do-it-yourselfers. By giving the students hands-on, real-wall experience, the church interior was transformed from a stark, all-white contemporary setting to a grand, many-layered tableau.

Students and instructors will hold a program at the church on January 26 at noon to discuss their work. St. Cornelius is at 160 Ridge Road in Chadds Ford. For more information about the program, call Forese at (610) 368-3899 or visit www.DPAP.org.

                             —Eileen Smith Dallabrida


Star man Sean Landers owns www.AmishStars.com.

Decorating’s Big Star
For the origins of those five-pointed Amish stars that decorate so many area homes and barns, look to Amish country. But don’t look to the Amish.

It’s the less traditional contemporaries of the Amish—Mennonite and mainstream Lutheran Germans—who laid the groundwork for the barn stars through the tradition of illuminated fraktur documents that mark important events such as marriages.

Fraktur is an old style of art and lettering. The stylized stars, birds and plants of fraktur found their way onto what we now know as hex signs, then were painted onto homes and barns. Single stars then emerged, showing up on German barns in the 1800s, either for aesthetic beauty or to mark the work of specific builders.

The stars grew in popularity after the Civil War. That popularity expanded with the rise of Lancaster County tourism in the 1940s, when local craftspeople started churning out individual hex signs and other memorabilia for sale to visitors. The stars gradually evolved into three-dimensional wooden creations. By the 1970s, discarded tin roof panels became a popular medium, adding an “antique” element.

The Amish connection isn’t entirely inaccurate, just not historic, says Sean Landers, owner of Newark-based AmishStars.com. No fools when it comes to the whims of commerce among the “English,” many Lancaster County Amish saw a niche to fill, thus began churning out the stars for sale to tourists and gift shops.

Landers does a brisk trade in the stars. He found his craftsmen—five sons and their father—selling them on the side of the road. He now employs them, when they aren’t occupied with farm business, to create the stars from old tin shingles.

                                         —Scott Pruden


Carolina Street Garden and Home in Fenwick Island
stays sunny all year.

How to Enjoy Summer Now
Winter can mean warmth, just by making a few changes in your home.

Though it will be months until you see the first daffodil, you can experience all that spring brings just by making some changes to your decor now. Dee Dee Phillips, owner of Carolina Street Garden and Home in Fenwick Island, offers these tips.

Force bulbs Most spring-blooming bulbs—hyacinths, tulips, narcissus, grape hyacinths and crocuses—can be made to bloom early. Many flowering trees and shrubs, including forsythia, can also be forced to bloom.

Add greenery inside Fill an attractive container with evergreens to bring the outside in. Don’t forget to spray them with a product like Wilt-Pruf, which seals moisture into the leaves.

Use outdoor Things indoors Birdhouses make novel wall-hangings. Weathervanes and concrete finials look handsome on the mantel or beside the fireplace and remind you of lush gardens. Garden benches only need a slip-covered cushion for winter residence in an entryway.

Consider window treatments “Window treatments are often too costly to switch out in winter,” Phillips says. If you’re thinking about buying new ones, look for those that allow plenty of light, which is welcome in winter. Shutters fit the bill.

Use sunny colors Lemony yellows, limes and bright oranges can liven up a cold day. Carolina Street carries furniture by Lee Industries, which features some vivid patterns as well as cooler colors. “They make wonderful slipcovers that you can switch out come summer,” Phillips says.

—Pam George




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