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This Chateau Country Home Is Ideal for Entertaining

A Centreville couple keeps a sparkling space for entertaining that charms for a variety of events, from book clubs to poker nights.


For nearly 10 years, Audrey and Doug Loew have lived in a lovely French manor-style home on four bucolic acres in the heart of Chateau Country. Like its owners, the house loves a party, especially during the holidays, when the couple decks the halls with glittering silver ornaments and gold-tone reindeer candelabra. The open gallery-style foyer (with an adjoining cloak room) is perfect for welcoming guests. Wrapped packages are stacked on the stairs, and a mosaic mirrored-glass panther sports a gold bow. Audrey chills the bubbly in a silver tureen that was passed down from her mother.

The Loews get the most out their party space year-round, whether it’s birthday parties for grandchildren, book club for Audrey or poker night for Doug.

The home’s elegant dining room and living room accommodate formal get-togethers, while a well-appointed kitchen and welcoming family room anchor casual gatherings. But none of the existing spaces fit Audrey’s vision of an ideal party setting. She wanted an airy, light-filled room with a massive center island that could serve as bar, buffet, dining place or game table. “Everyone always wound up around the kitchen island—and it just isn’t big enough for everyone to be comfortable,” she says.

Audrey chills the bubbly in a silver tureen that was passed down from her mother.

The inspiration for what would become a grand party room was just outside—a central courtyard with beautiful views of the property. To transform the courtyard into a designated indoor entertaining space, the Loews turned to Joe Marra, a custom builder in Greenville, Delaware. Measuring 24 feet square, the new room is large enough to accommodate a crowd, yet it feels intimate enough for a candlelit dinner for two. Topped with gray-veined white quartz, a central island seats 14 guests in counter-height chairs upholstered in plush, velvety charcoal. Pull-out drawers, artfully concealed in the base cabinet, provide extra storage.

Arched floor-to-ceiling windows are reminiscent of the historic main conservatory at Longwood Gardens. “It’s a little bit of Longwood, with fun built into it,” Audrey says.

Topped with gray-veined white quartz, a central island seats 14 guests in counter-height chairs upholstered in plush, velvety charcoal.

The island is flanked by two banks of built-in dove-gray cabinetry, one outfitted with climate-controlled wine storage and the other equipped with a beverage fridge. Designed by Waterbury Kitchen and Bath of Kennett Square, the cabinets have custom drawers for champagne flutes, wine glasses and other barware. Snowy-white porcelain floor tiles are 24 inches square, minimizing grout lines and maximizing the spacious vibe. Steps leading into the room were fabricated to mimic the veined quartz on the island and honed to eliminate the slippery surface.

The party room reflects Audrey’s love of symmetry and sparkle, with a glamorous palette of black, white and gray and mixed-metal gold-and-silver accents. Arched floor-to-ceiling windows are reminiscent of the historic main conservatory at Longwood Gardens. “It’s a little bit of Longwood, with fun built into it,” Audrey says.

Because the French doors and windows command so much of the space, choosing a color for the millwork was a major design decision. The builder encouraged Audrey to make a bold choice and paint the millwork black. “I’m glad I did,” she says. “When you have the choice of being safe or going for drama, I say go with the drama.”

Wrapped packages are stacked on the stairs, and a mosaic mirrored-glass panther sports a gold bow.

A pair of satin brass chandeliers with crystals in varying shapes and sizes twinkle above the island. The fixtures arrived in boxes, and Audrey put them together, meticulously wiring each crystal. “I needed a manicure afterward, but I enjoyed every minute of it,” she says.

Instead of recessing a bar sink into the countertop, the Loews opted for a vessel of Swarovski crystal that refracts diamonds of light around the room. “I went back and forth, looking at sinks in various colors and finishes,” Audrey says. “Crystal was the perfect choice—that piece of jewelry that really finishes off an outfit.”

The three sets of French doors that originally led to the courtyard now connect the space to the main house. “Because they were exposed to the elements, the brass handles were weathered,” Doug says. “We had them restored, and now they shine like new.”

The courtyard’s original flagstone slabs have a new life, too. Half the pavers now reside happily outside the party room on a patio. The rest of the stone went home with one of the Loews’ two daughters.

The Loews get the most out their party space year-round, whether it’s birthday parties for grandchildren, book club for Audrey or poker night for Doug. “We love to have our morning coffee here and enjoy the light streaming in,” Audrey says. “It’s our favorite place to be.”

Marra Homes

Kennett Pike, Greenville, Delaware, (302) 654-0800, marrahomes.com

Waterbury Kitchen and Bath

818 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, (610) 444-9190, waterburydesign.com


The Perfect Party

5 planning tips from accomplished hostess Audrey Loew.

1. Think ahead.

That means prepping food, decorating the house and selecting your wardrobe well before the big day. “Save the day of the party for last-minute things. I like to sit down 10 minutes before my guests arrive, take a deep breath, and enjoy a glass of champagne.”

2. Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance.

“If you’re in the kitchen cooking, your guests will feel like they have to be there, too.”

3. When putting together a playlist, make it instrumental.

“Songs with lyrics tend to interfere with conversations.”

4. Create mood lighting.

Install dimmer switches on chandeliers and recessed lighting. “And light lots of candles.”

5. More than 20 guests? Hire help.

A server and a bartender can also stay after the party to help clean up.

Related: This Chateau Country Estate Is Stately and Stunning

Eileen Smith Dallabrida

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