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Tired of the Beach Scene, a DC Couple Finds Respite in the West Virginia Mountains

Even just looking at this hot tub is relaxing.

Tired of the Beach Scene, a DC Couple Finds Respite in the West Virginia Mountains
The house has two levels of wraparound decks, perfect for taking in spectacular sunsets.

For years, Tim Fink and Joe Vealencis had gone in with friends on summer rentals in Rehoboth Beach. But by 2014, they felt they’d outgrown that scene.

“We wanted something that was a little slower,” says Vealencis, who works in government relations. “There’s almost like a battle rhythm associated with having a house in Rehoboth.”

In search of a more tranquil road-trip destination, the couple booked a weekend in Lost River, West Virginia—a getaway near the George Washington National Forest in the Appalachians that’s especially popular with Washington’s LGBTQ community.

“We found the pace and the community to be charming and welcoming,” says Fink, who sells commercial furniture. So just for fun, he and Vealencis spent a day house-hunting. “We were really surprised at how affordable it was.”

The couple had talked casually about buying a second home at some point in the future. Then a local developer showed them a house he was building that had breathtaking views of the mountains. “It was one of those things: In your gut, you just knew,” says Fink.

He was taken by the place’s aesthetic—“a good mix of comfortable and cabin that also feels appropriately modern”—while Vealencis, who loves to cook and entertain, was drawn to its big kitchen and open floor plan. Though they initially worried about spending so many weekends away from their DC social life, they host friends frequently. “We like to share it,” says Vealencis.

The brand-new house didn’t need any work, but they’ve made small improvements—such as adding a downstairs wet bar made by a local craftsman and installing a patio with a fire pit. “Sometimes Tim and I just sit out there and count shooting stars,” says Vealencis.

“Our lives are kind of a marathon in DC,” says Fink. “Lost River feels like a totally stress-free place.”

Owners Tim Fink and Joe Vealencis have made small upgrades to their house, such as adding a hot tub to one of the screened-in porches.
As a 40th-birthday gift to Vealencis, Fink tracked down the antique American flag over the living-room fireplace. It flew at a Union camp during the Civil War and has a large center star that signifies West Virginia’s path to statehood.

Why Lost River?

It’s easy to get off the grid: There’s wi-fi, of course, but as Fink explains, “You have to be intentionally connected, which is nice.”

It’s not too far: It’s about 2½ hours from DC.

Fink and Vealencis with their lab-chow mix, Jack.

This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.