It helps that Winnie happens to be a talented professional interior designer — she is the owner of Environments H.C., a design firm based in their former eastern Pennsylvania hometown.
“This is not our home. It belongs to the university,” Winnie King said. “The fun is having the students over. A house full of kids keeps us young.”
The home is a three-bedroom ranch-style house with a finished basement that features a second kitchen area.
King said entertaining is part of the job of being a president’s wife. Large and small dinner parties are common there — and the home was designed to accommodate.
From the foyer, it is difficult to decide where to look first.A wall of original art divides the entry to the kitchen and the family room. King has arranged most of her artwork on gallery crown molding so she can move pieces around at will.
Many of her favorite pieces were inexpensive antique-store finds. Others, such as the unique dining room table, are custom-made conversation pieces.
“I loved that it was free-form and unusual and nobody else would have one like it,” she said, adding that she likes things that aren’t “too serious.”
The table, made of English elm by Homestead Furniture in Ohio’s Amish Country, is a single piece of natural wood with a handmade iron base.
“I designed the iron base with them and chose the bronze finish to complement the table,” she said. “They are wonderful to work with.”Eight upholstered chairs with four different patterns (two of each), but similar palettes, surround the table.
“It’s curiously artistic. I like things to not match, but enhance each other. I like things to interest me,” King said. “Interestingly, David and I had dinner with the owner (of Homestead Furniture), Ernie Hershberger, and his family last week. It was a beautiful time of fellowship and yummy dishes. They have recently purchased some fantastic trees for slab tables … very exciting.”
In the kitchen, a well-traveled collection of Flow Blue, Staffordshire, transferware, Wedgewood and other antique blue-and-white china and pottery are accented by the bold, dusty emerald green color of the walls.
“I was inspired by the vintage blue and white, but I love the blue and green,” said King. “I’ve been collecting the blue and white for a long time. They’re not perfect. I love the layering of the pieces and imagining how they started.”A large, granite kitchen island is enhanced by glass pendant lighting with unusual bulbs, created at the Simon Pearce Studio in Vermont.
Artwork by children’s artist Lindsay Barrett George hangs in the kitchen, surrounded by antique dinnerware. Both the kitchen and the vaulted family room have a nature-lover’s view of the old Hoover farm, now the Fieldcrest property, and King said deer grazing in the backyard is common.
The family room can accommodate intimate gatherings or larger parties with just a swivel of some chairs and the addition of a table they add to an upholstered dining bench.The focal point is a painted fireplace accented with gold leaves, which King says “pops” with just the light of a candle in the room. The main hallway features a signed collection of art from Raymond Saunders’ early portfolio.
King said she enjoys creating tension between the fancy and the casual.
“We didn’t want ostentatious. That doesn’t fit with Malone to have a big, ornate house,” said King. “I just don’t take myself seriously and try to have fun.”