Article courtesy of Bucks County Magazine
Riverside Retreat Transformation
By Beth S. Buxbaum
For 43 years Wayne and Linda Masters owned and operated Llama Mama Good Farm and CSA from their 1836 farmhouse in Marlboro, New Jersey. In addition to growing the crops they housed a variety of farm animals, including llamas. A few years ago they decided to look for a summer home and began exploring properties in Bucks County. New Hope was a top choice. With its close proximity to their Marlboro home they were comfortable with the travel time. Both were familiar with the area since they used to bike the Delaware Canal path in the 1990s. Wayne and Linda began looking and eventually found just the right property for their summer home. In 2017 they purchased this charming, renovated Bucks County home that sits along the Delaware River and backs up to the historic Delaware Canal and Towpath.
After appreciating the beauty and calm of their to their New Hope retreat for a few years, Wayne and Linda began to reflect on their decision to have a summer home. With the realization that the farm was getting to be too much, they decided it was time to make a permanent change. “We are getting older and it was becoming more challenging since we did all the work on the farm ourselves,” Linda explains. In addition to the farm, Wayne also owned a chain of The Game Room Stores. They came to the conclusion that they wanted to retire and live here year-round. After selling the farm, they handed over The Game Room Store chain to their kids to run. With all these plans in place, their thoughts turned to their New Hope residence.
Wayne and Linda were excited to start a new chapter together. In preparation for their permanent move to New Hope, they wanted to make some changes to the house. Wayne interviewed several contractors to redesign some of the living space. He selected Daryl Rost, of Rost Artisan Design Build, for his unique and creative craftsmanship and skill. This project would be their forever home. Daryl’s characterization is that this is their “feet first house,” with the reference that they will be carried out feet first. With that thought in mind Wayne and Linda began to consider how they wanted to re-style their new home.
The original 1790 two-room structure has had several renovations throughout the years that have transformed the home. What is now the core of the house was the result of an addition built in 1900. Documentation and personal accounts have noted that the original 1790 structure was, at one time, a studio for New Hope Impressionist Edward Redfield. Wayne and Linda are intrigued with the house’s history and are always gleaning new information. They were aware of the area’s history of flooding. Wayne mentions that they have first-hand knowledge about how the 1955 flood ravaged the house. Their neighbor’s grandfather used to live in the house. He relayed to Wayne and Linda the story his grandfather shared with him and a few photos of the house after the storm. An entire face of the house was torn off and the house was floors deep in high waters from the overflow of the Delaware River.
As a matter of fact, Daryl’s inspection revealed extensive damage with rotting wood and insect damage from all the flooding over the years. Daryl suggested they lift the house to protect the property from flooding. He orchestrated this with a huge hydraulic lift that raised the entire house by 13- and–a-half feet. “We lifted the house in stages, he adds. This was an amazing production to witness, according to Wayne, as he describes how the entire front of the house was removed temporarily for the lift. Daryl explains that he had to create a new foundation and then put back the original 1790 section on the first floor. From all the damage, it was necessary to create new floor structures. Wayne and Linda witnessed the entire project from the lift to the renovations from their temporary residence next to the house. An old mule barn on the property was gutted and transformed into a cottage for the Wayne and Linda to live in while their house was renovated. This structure now functions as a garage and guest cottage.
In 2020 the planning stages were in full swing with Daryl Rost at the helm. Once all the damage was addressed the renovation began from floor to floor. Lifting the house created a new first floor and shifted the original floors. Daryl had some open space to define. He expanded and re-designed these rooms while maintaining the basic footprint on the other levels. “I did the whole design process with Wayne and Linda,” Daryl explains, “to make sure I understood what they wanted.” What drew them to this house were the open footprint and the many floor-to-ceiling windows affording them endless views of the river and landscape. Even with a prior owner’s renovations there were some aesthetic and structural changes on their to-do list. Expanding space was the goal to satisfy Wayne and Linda’s desire for a more natural and airy flow. In Daryl’s artistic style he also suggested a few original, custom features to add a unique touch to several of the rooms.
On the new first level, Daryl repurposed part of the original 1790 two room structure to be a workshop and garage. In another area of the first floor, the remaining space was transformed into a guest bedroom suite. Evidence of the original 1790 structure is a wall constructed with cement and river pebbles that was an exterior wall. The bathroom is finished with an enclosed walk-in shower accented with a pebbled floor and striking black onyx glass walls with veins of earth tones. Covering one wall is an expansive counter topped with onyx. For the first level much of the footprint was untouched while creating an entirely new space.
The second level, formerly the first floor that housed the oil burner and water filtration system, was completely redone. Daryl suggested that they stretch their imaginations in this area. “I prompted them to come up with something that they would each enjoy,” Daryl adds.
After designing a new entranceway Daryl responded to their suggestions and added two new spaces. The entry opens with a bar and game room for Wayne. In one corner of this space is the wet bar with a quartz top illuminated with red lights. Daryl finished the cabinets with a metal coating, one of his signature applications. Against an adjacent wall is one side of a two-sided metal enclosed fireplace. Wayne filled this game room with his favorite collection pieces including a pinball machine, jukebox and barber’s chair.
Transitioning from the game room is a newly designed hallway leading to the next area. This custom room is Linda’s new laundry and sewing room accented with Bucks County soapstone counters and sink. At the end of the hallway is a powder room finished with white tile walls and a floating vessel sink and shelf that Daryl fashioned from an old piece of wood.
Flowing to the left of this section is an expansive two-story living room with an imposing Palladian window. This room has walls of floor-to-ceiling windows for endless views of the river and beyond. One feature that was in the original living room was a huge stone fireplace with big boulders. “They could not lift the fireplace,” adds Wayne, “so it never made it to the second floor.” In its place Daryl built a two-sided fireplace encased in a recessed metal box to protect the big screen television. Another feature that Daryl suggested was to install an elevator on this level with a window to observe the change in the structural levels of the house. Beyond the living room is the main bedroom suite. For a more rustic feel Daryl covered the focus wall with reclaimed mushroom wood. “I designed this room to appear to be part of the original 1790 house,” Daryl adds. Part of this space is a new bathroom finished with an enclosed walk-in shower with a pebbled floor and striking white onyx walls with lines of earth tones. A finishing touch is the addition of a terrace overlooking the river.
For the third floor the renovations were the most extensive. On this level the kitchen, dining area and breakfast nook were redone. Daryl added a cathedral ceiling to this floor for a more ethereal feel. The dimensions of the dining area were expanded to float out and overlook the two-story living room. From the dining area you have a spectacular view of the river through the living room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. A total renovation of the kitchen added a custom center island topped with zebra wood. A wall of white cabinetry complements the space and is blended with a unique white onyx backsplash above the stove. An entire wall of white cabinetry contrasts well with the Bucks County soapstone countertops and sink. Along the right wall of this expansive room is a beehive-oven-inspired fireplace with a live edge walnut mantel. Tucked into the rear of this level is the breakfast nook and coffee station. Another interesting feature of this space is a custom floating spiral staircase leading to the loft, which is a cozy sitting area.
From the loft to the first floor guest bedroom, this home’s interior has been artistically altered, adding features and accents for a more contemporary feel. Transformations have also occurred on the exterior. To fully appreciate the setting of their property from the outside, Daryl built a series of multi-level decks with unobstructed views of the river and lots of opportunities for relaxing or entertaining. In the front of the house they built a brick patio surrounded by a stone wall and terraced landscaping with groupings of foliage and flowers. From the total house lift to the final touches, each detail added to an overall refresh. Renovations took two years to complete. Wayne and Linda moved into the house in October of 2022. Whether cozy or grand, Wayne and Linda enjoyed Daryl’s input and artistic flare during the extensive transformation of their home. Daryl’s use of natural and reclaimed materials and his creative applications add another level in his design process.
Wayne and Linda are basking in all the interior natural light as they take in the views just a few steps from their front door. Relaxed and content, they take many strolls along the towpath enjoying the crisp fall breezes and the palette of fall colors dotting their landscape.
Beth S. Buxbaum is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.