Peek Inside a Dreamy Designer Show House

There is no shortage of inspiring ideas to be found inside this Henlopen Acres space.


The Designer Show House, a bi-annual must-attend event sponsored by the Village Improvement Association in Rehoboth Beach, offers 6,000 square feet of interior inspiration, as well as almost an acre of outdoor delights.

It’s an opportunity for regional designers to showcase their talents and a great way for visitors to gather ideas to take home. Picture a vibrant microcosm of styles, from formal to rustic, stately to whimsical, all under one roof.

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Inspired by the laid-back West Indies vibe, the sunken living room is a play of strong bold lines and soft sandy colors, with richly layered textures and accents that suggest a well-lived life.

The space is the work of Kate FitzGerald-Wilks of Timeless Design in Landenberg, Pa., who also designed the dining room. 

Two vintage stick bamboo chairs are painted black to emphasize their graphic frames. The strong pattern of the Kuba cloth pillow on each seat is a foil for the bold Ralph Lauren zebra-stripe pillows on the slipcovered camel-backed sofa. A mid-century hutch with a strong black silhouette is reimagined as a swank cocktail bar. 

A pair of sculptural metal and glass console tables flank the fireplace. Wood mirrors crowned with a faux tortoise shell rest against sandy textural wallpaper. Modern sculpture and art mingle with gilded antique books and treasures collected from around the world.   

“Every dining room should have some drama,” says FitzGerald-Wilks, who ups the wow factor with a backdrop of 200 wine bottles and a showstopper Dolcetti chandelier made from a mix of shells and crystals reminiscent of sea glass. An 8-foot-long reclaimed wine rack sits atop a buffet. 

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The room’s colors are soft creams and tans countered with a punch of emerald green in the chandelier and wine bottles. The window is framed by a pair of woven ikat print panels. 

Let there be light

An airy sunroom was designed by Alfred Wolf Home, a new venture for the team from Design Center of Rehoboth (DCOR). (The name hails from a combination of names, Alfred Michael and Edwin Wolf.)

To create a light-filled, contemporary transition between the house and garden, the designers removed the existing French doors and window grills, painted the room various shades of white and French gray-green, and mixed textural elements of white canvas, iron and marble.

The family room

DCOR retained the warmth of the paneling and fireplace stone in the family room, which was the launch pad for the soft khaki and cream palette. The room is nattily dressed with herringbone, tweed and leather fabrics, offset with tortoise shell wood finishes and artwork of local tidal scenes.

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Mary Stewart of M. Stewart Interiors in Bear designed the upstairs hobby room she calls Just Us. 

The painters’ nook

“It is a shared space where family members indulge in their favorite pastimes. The mom paints, the dad has interests in photography, the kids read, play chess and build Lego structures,” she says. “The painted pieces are cherished family heirlooms updated for a modern look. The room is painted simply white to showcase the paintings by Nadia Zychal.”

Nile Johnson of Kennett Square, Pa., designed the paneled, second-floor library, inspired by the “laid-back yet cosmopolitan tones of Rehoboth.” Decorated in layers of sandy tans, it’s an updated interpretation of a classic space.

Feels good

Inspired by exuberantly patterned fabrics, Cyndi and Ron Oronzio and Cathie Sheetz of Dreamweaver Interiors of Rehoboth Beach decorated a bedroom and bath.

“When we found out that Robert Allen could take any of their fabrics and turn them into wallpaper, we knew right away that we wanted to have a fabric accent wall,” Cyndi Oronzio says. “Once we had chosen the print for that, the rest of the pieces started to fall into place.”

The team selected fabrics that add depth to the rooms through crisp patterns, contrasting textures and detailed embroidery. 

“After we decided on the bright coral pink for the accent color, we knew we wanted to go in a fun feminine direction, so we added the accent of rhinestones, which began with the lamps, then got pulled through to the rest of the room,” she says. 

Brenda Carder of blcINTERIORS of Rehoboth Beach decorated a small guest bedroom that blends natural cotton and linen fabrics with a mix of metal and reclaimed wood. Crown moldings add an element of formality and architectural detail.

“Since this room has limited sunlight, I kept it light and bright,” Carder says. “However, for interest and depth, I added an accent wall in deep navy blue. Touches of bright yellow provide a bit of warmth.”  

The display of art on the second floor features work by Libby Zando of Zando Designs and Art Affects in Milton, as well as paintings by award-winning regional artists.

Boardwalk Builders of Rehoboth transformed a hallway into a gallery space by adding wainscot paneling in an updated cottage aesthetic that visually widened the hallway and created the sense of being in a room.  

Mark A. Polo of the Urban Dweller in Boonton, N.J., designed the serene master suite.

The master suite

“At the end of the day we all want to be comforted,” he says. “This room achieves that with soft textural colors, from taupe to blue, and furniture that is upholstered to accentuate the softness of the room.”

Taupe draperies are constructed of a combination of embroidered sheer linen and silk edged in leather and freshwater pearls. Blonde floors are softened with a long fiber rug.

Outdoors, Erin Walls and Justin Bartels of Bella Terra Landscaping in Lincoln recycled existing flagstone patios and walkways and added a variety of new stones to create a Celtic-inspired design. The layout creates an illusion of separate spaces, producing a grand area designed for social gatherings, as well as sweeping curves and secluded nooks that offer quiet retreats.  

Creative Concepts Furniture of Lewes and Ocean View furnished the patios as a series of outdoor rooms in bright coastal colors. 

It’s easy for visitors to imagine themselves in the setting: a sectional for lounging, a small loveseat for a sunny spot, a dining area that can seat six, and a pair of lounge chairs for a private hangout space. 

The Village Improvement Association Designer Show House 2016 is located at 52 Rolling Road in Henlopen Acres. The house will be open May 5–8, May 12–15 and May 19–22, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tickets are $25. The event benefits the VIA. Learn more at

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