Green Friendly Living

A lively palette makes Tom and Chris King’s home a mirror of nature.

The Kings built their home in Wolfe Pointe in 2004. They display works by local artists such as Marilyn Bauman and the late Howard Schroeder throughout their home. Photograph by John LewisTom and Chris King like to go green—olive green, avocado green, mint green, pistachio green and a soothing sea green. “I am a green freak,” Chris confesses. The cabinetry in the great room-living room and country kitchen? Green. The walls in one guest bedroom? Green. And the Cape Cod home’s exterior? You guessed it—green.

But thanks to a blend of patterns, textures and other colors, including creamy white and peach, the greens never overwhelm the decor. Instead, they complement and draw attention to Kings’ wooded lot—full of loblolly pines and holly trees—in the Wolfe Pointe neighborhood in Lewes. Generously sized windows provide restful views of the landscape from most rooms. “I chose all my colors from the woods, the trees and the pine cones,” Chris says.

The home, built in 2004, is one of seven Lewes-area properties the Kings have had built. They’ve lived in five and built two to sell. The Kings’ house-hopping has centered on Lewes, where Tom’s family has long owned King’s Ice Cream on Second Street. (There is another location in Milton.) Chris is a retired Cape Henlopen High School English and drama teacher who clearly has a knack for interior design—and spotting resell potential. “We got the bug,” Chris says of their move from the Madison Avenue duplex they remodeled to Wolfe Runne to Cape Shores to Wolfe Pointe, where they’ve lived in two homes. The first lured a bidder as soon as they moved in.

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An upstairs bedroom features facing antique beds. Photograph by John Lewis“Some friends said, ‘We want to buy your house,’ and we kept putting them off,” Chris recalls. The friends had looked all over Lewes for a first-floor master bedroom, which is part of both the Kings’ Wolfe Pointe homes, but found none they liked. A year after moving in, the Kings signed a contract with their friends on their current property, but they remained in the first a year longer while Klabe Custom Homes in Lewes worked its magic.

The home, designed by Jennifer McCann of Tranquil Waters Design in White Stone, Virginia—formerly of Lewes—shares a similar layout to the Kings’ first Wolfe Pointe house. Chris wanted just enough changes so their friends’ home could retain its distinctive character in the neighborhood.

Since both the Kings’ daughter and son have moved out, they decided to divide the sleeping areas. The master bedroom is off the great room and kitchen. Another first-floor bedroom on the opposite end of the house could serve as an in-law suite with the conversion of the Kings’ shared office to a den.

Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bath. The suite would make for another mother-in-law suite, but for now it is the domain of the Kings’ three grandchildren, who regularly spend Friday nights there. The girls share a room in which two antique beds face each other. Since the great room has a higher ceiling than the other downstairs rooms, you must step up to enter the second bedroom, which makes for a dramatic entrance.

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Four of Lewes artist Pat Staby’s whimsical pillows adorn a guest bed. One of the pillows pictures Tom and Chris, of King’s Ice Cream, with an ice cream cone. Photograph by John LewisA dedicated staircase near the kitchen leads to a second-floor TV room and bath, which could become yet another private living quarters. In all, the 4 ½-bath home could conceivably offer six bedrooms, if you converted the office and TV room.

Visitors to the Kings’ home may immediately appreciate the couple’s choice of comfortable yet elegant furniture, including comfy floral-patterned sofas and plush leather chairs that make you want to curl up with a book. It’s all warm and welcoming.

There is a certain sturdiness to all the pieces, which is enhanced by custom cabinetry designed by John Nelson. In the great room, a corner cupboard cleverly hides the TV and another holds the bar. Open the bar door, and lights come on to illuminate a tidy row of glassware.

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A white-painted bed in the master bedroom proves a rare exception to the  refinished oak furniture found throughout the home. Photograph by John LewisLocal artisan Darryl DuBre built the tiger maple hutch in the dining room, whose surface feels as smooth and glossy as marble. The tiger maple is an anomaly in the dining room, which is dominated by antique oak furniture collected over the years. “We always liked the oak because it’s warmer” than many other woods, Chris says.

Her father refinished the pieces, which come primarily from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, where Chris was born. Though the dining room chairs are a medley of styles, their common material and finish make them appear uniform. The couple bucked the trend in the master bedroom, where a white-painted bed resides. “I wanted a king,” Chris says. Yet the bed, strewn with pillows, still boasts a country sensibility.

The environment helped spark Chris’ decision to promote the country motif, which is perhaps most evident in the kitchen. Here, Nelson installed custom cabinets whose ornamentation makes them look more like furniture than standard cupboards. The top cabinets have glass fronts, which make a fitting showcase for Chris’ china and pottery.

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A dedicated staircase near the dining room leads to a second-floor TV room and bath. The tiger maple hutch in the dining room, built by local artisan Darryl DuBre, displays some of the homeowners’ collection of china. Photograph by John LewisHer collection is artfully arranged throughout the first floor. Custom-built cabinets on either side of the fireplace are stages for green-hued McCoy pottery and Yellow Ware—which in this case includes green bowls. The fireside arrangement also highlights plates from Holland, found in a Georgetown antiques store. The Dutch pieces interested Chris because her daughter for 11 years lived in Holland—she was with the Dutch National Ballet—and married a Dutchman. (He now manages the ice cream stores.) In the dining room, DuBre’s hutch holds French china that belonged to Chris’ great aunt.

The Kings’ design makes room for modern appointments. Chris chose Corian for all her homes’ countertops. “I think it’s warmer and I like the way it looks.” Since it’s just the two of them, she selected a Fisher Paykel two-drawer dishwasher, anticipating fewer dishes. But because they entertain so often, they primarily use both drawers. The microwave also acts as a convection oven. One modern appliance, a drip coffee maker, is noticeably absent. The Kings prefer the flavor that their silver percolator provides.

Among the home’s many highlights is a brick-floored sun porch, which the Kings enclosed in 2008 so they could enjoy it all year. It’s both heated and air-conditioned. The peaceful room, outfitted with wicker and wrought iron furniture, looks out at a stand of trees, where the Kings in September held their son’s rehearsal dinner. “We spend a lot of time out here when we have company,” Chris says. “We have so much family, we have to have several different eating areas.”

Though the Kings don’t plan to move anytime soon, they agree that their current home is not their last stop. They are already letting their imaginations run wild. “With our next house,” Chris says, “we are thinking of doing simple lines with a Frank Lloyd Wright influence.” The Kings also plan to build their next house with environmentally friendly materials. “We want to take advantage of some of the new technologies,” Tom says.

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