ON OFF’S POND
Henry David Thoreau had Walden Pond, but if he lived here and now, this Linwood home would suit the naturalist.
Reported by Atlantic City Magazine (January, 1999)
Once upon a time, not so long ago and not so far away, in a little town called Linwood there was a little house on a big pond. The pond was home to mallards, swans, giant sea bass, frogs, herons, egrets, and crabs. Ducks climbed onto the grass, waddled around, or sat preening their feathers on the sun-drenched lawn while squirrels romped nearby chasing each other up the towering oak trees.
The setting was idyllic, but alas the house was too small. The owners could not bring themselves to move; they did not want to leave the peaceful enchantment of the pond. So they called upon a magician to turn the little dwelling into a big beautiful homestead. Architect Stephen Fenwick commenced his alchemy and entreated a man known to assist in metamorphoses of this nature, Scott Georgetti of Georgetti Construction.
Together, the wizards turned the little house into a palatial structure without disquieting the wildlife. Off’s pond is fed by the runoff from Patcong Creek and consequently has saltwater fish and fowl. It takes its name from the Off family, the owner of a large tract of land surrounding the inland waterway. This land was sold to a developer who in the 1960s built a community of Colonial style homes with streets curved to follow the contour of the small lake.
Seeing the house, situated as it is on a picturesque, tree-lined cul-de-sac overlooking one of the most beautiful ponds in the area, you know why the owners could not leave this panoramic spot. Like its surroundings, the home has an aura of enchantment. Approaching, you sense that time is standing still and once inside you wish it only could.
Remodeling also involved personal sacrifices; one imposition was moving out for several months while renovations took place. Even trees were uprooted an put aside to make room for heavy equipment. Lang’s Garden market took precautions to preserve the natural wooded surroundings during construction and provided a more structured, colorful landscape at the entrance.
A red brick path now leads to the protected gabled doorway, and red cedar shingles cover the old red brick and aluminum siding. Tall white columns add elegance to the new expansive look of the front of the house while the diverse roofline is more readily appreciated from the rear. At the back, a meandering mahogany deck stretches to the southern end of the property, wraps around the kitchen, and connects to the outdoor pool. In a more formal mode, a brick patio with relaxing views of the water beckons from outside the living room. Mature trees bordering the edge of the pond shade the pool house, deck, and patio.
Windows custom made by Weathershield, at least 60 in number and variety ranging from circular, oval, crescent, French doors, and sliders that look like French doors, replace all the old standard ones. The strategic placement of the glass portals is to allow the surrounding woods to be part of the interior.
The indoor color scheme imitates the outdoors with a profusion of greens, browns, yellows and blues. Furnishings throughout are an example of the “Arts and Crafts” style that evolved in the late 1800s in reaction to the fussiness of the Victorian period. Typical are handcrafted furniture, natural textiles, metalwork and ceramics with an eye for simplicity of form and usefulness, thereby, elevating everyday household objects to the status of decorative art.
The owner designed the family room lounge chair, bookcases, the master bed, as well as the paper, wood, and metal sconces used in the foyer, dining room, and family room. The soft lighting on the rich grain evokes a quiet beauty while the natural oak floors ramble endlessly throughout the rooms, adding to the sensation that Mother nature has stepped inside.
Once inside the main entry, it is difficult to imagine that the front door was previously in the middle of the living room. Now it opens to a two-story foyer. Oak railings designed by the owner harness the oak stairway that climbs to the balcony overhead. The outdoors remains visible through the window at the opposite end of the hall and the overhead casement, which washes the foyer in sunlight.
To the left of the hall sits the family room. Clean lines of cherry and maple furnishings, simple natural fabrics, and sparse use of accessories is again characteristic of the Arts and Crafts design style favored by the owners. The walls mimic the same khaki color incorporated in the foyer, as does the muted pattern on the sofa and oversized chair, while the custom-made recliner lounge and enormous ottoman sport rusty colored aged leather.
The lush front lawn is within view while a glance to the adjacent wall opens an effusive view of the kidney-shaped pool just beyond the deck. The family room flows into the kitchen dining area featuring a large table made with church floorboards from Mexico. From here and the adjoining kitchen, you may glimpse the pool and pond. Bright white wooden cabinets, green marble countertops, and shiny stainless steel appliances lead us back to the hall.
Here, a corridor of cherry wood cupboards lead to the dining room, which is literally three glass walls sitting on the threshold of the estuary. Dressed in marble, glass, and steel, it makes a perfect setting for dining al fresco without exposure to the elements.
The living room continues the theme of undressed window walls and French doors that open to the patio. An oak carved mantle, another owner inspired design, inset with handmade tile likenesses of the wildlife found in Off’s pond, takes prominence. With expansive vistas of the landscape and the warmth of the fireplace, this room is a delight any season of the year.
The path to the upstairs master bedroom suite takes you past two children’s bedrooms and a guest room. Enter the private world of two adults whose appreciation of their environs is immediately discernible. The bedroom and adjacent sitting room echo the color of the sun while the bathroom is bathed in seafoam green. The polished oak floor shimmers in sunlight, the trees peek in the windows, and the pond unfolds before your gaze. It is difficult to fathom where each room ends and the small lake begins. The effect is astounding uncomplicated serenity. How pleasant it must be to awake every morning on Off’s pond.