Poconos weekend retreat becomes year-round home

Deb and Fred McQuiston, formerly of Audubon in Montgomery County, built a house on Arrowhead Lake for weekend use. Now they live there full time and plan to age in place.

Deb McQuiston wanted to live on the water, but “the Jersey Shore,” she says, “was too expensive and too busy.”

Instead of ocean waves, Deb and her husband, Fred, chose a view of a serene, tree-lined lake in the Pocono Mountains.

For five years, the McQuistons, who raised a son and daughter in Audubon in Montgomery County, used their new home at Arrowhead Lake as a weekend getaway. But for the last year, they have lived there full time. Both work from home: He as a contract software engineer and she as a CPA.

Deb and Fred prefer chilly mountain weather to the heat they endured in the early years of their marriage. The Ohio natives met while stationed in the Air Force in San Antonio and wed in 1978. After earning master’s degrees on the GI Bill in Texas, they moved East when Fred got a job in Blue Bell.

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
The exterior of the house is clad in vinyl siding made to look like New England clapboard. The second floor balcony faces Arrowhead Lake.

The McQuistons credit architectural designer Susan Abel and Liberty Homes Custom Builders for creating their attractive, maintenance-free, energy-efficient residence.

The two-story house includes a basement, screened-in porch, living, dining and kitchen areas, three bedrooms, 2½ baths, two-car garage, and his and hers offices.

The new home’s dormers, vertical window muntins, and three-paneled interior doors hark back to Arts and Crafts cottages built in the Poconos in the early 1900s.

The exterior of  the McQuistons’ home has practical gray vinyl siding made to look like New England clapboard. The ground and upper-floor decks and dark-stained interior floors are made from composite wood. Kitchen countertops and the fireplace are fabricated stone.

First-rate insulation and a geothermal heat pump helped win the home the Pocono Builders’ award for most energy-efficient house built in 2012.

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Deb McQuiston shopped online to find the distinctive light fixtures in the house. To brighten the house, she chose a cheerful gold paint.

To brighten winter gloom, Deb painted the living areas a cheerful gold. She views “spectacular sunsets” over the lake from a chocolate leather armchair positioned in front of a bank of windows. The chair and coral-and-rust upholstered sofas in the living area are new.

“The old sofas were full of critter hair,” Deb said. The McQuistons have two golden retrievers and two cats — all rescues.

The dining room table with copper insert came from the Audubon home. The table, new chairs, and a walnut buffet match walnut kitchen cabinets.

“I cook,” Deb said. “I clean up,” Fred said.

In the move, Deb kept furniture belonging to Fred’s family, including a library table, two end tables, a small desk, and a dentist cabinet that Fred’s father, a woodworker, filled with tools.

Upstairs, Deb made quilts for twin beds in guest bedrooms. The pale gold walls in one room pick up the gold in the rainbow-striped quilt. The second room has blue, beige, and brown quilts and blue walls. A turquoise-and-violet wall hanging in the stairwell was purchased on a trip to Turkey.

Deb decorated in Arts and Crafts style with textiles, art glass, and pottery she has collected for 40 years. She found amber glass pendant lights for over the kitchen counter and a blue glass fixture for the dining room online.

Outside on the upper deck, a copper concentric wind sculpture by Lyman Whitaker resembles an exotic plant. The artist has exhibited at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia.

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
The house has his and her offices. Both McQuistons work as home: Deb as a CPA and Fred as a contract software engineer.

The McQuistons landscaped their sloping property with rocks and gravel to prevent erosion. Deb planted deer-proof ferns, a Siberian cypress that turns from green to deep purple in winter, and pink bleeding hearts to attract hummingbirds. She transplanted 160 daffodil bulbs from her Audubon garden, and most bloomed. She admitted, though, “I don’t dare tell Fred the money I spent on plants that didn’t make it.”

Fred, 68, said he and Deb, 63, plan to work several more years and age in place in the mountains. The master bedroom and bath, with walk-in shower and grab bars, are on the first floor.

The Arrowhead Lake Community Association plows snowy roads in winter and in the summer maintains tennis courts, four lakeside beaches, and three swimming pools. Deb enjoys paddling her red kayak on the lake, and she and Fred are enthusiastic year-round walkers. The couple look forward to introducing their first grandchild, expected in August, to their mountain home.

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
The view from the back porch at Arrowhead Lake.

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