When Warren and Mary Sprake went house hunting 10 years ago they didn't know Northfield from North Wildwood. They were living in Long Island with their 1-year-old daughter, Hope, when Warren took a job with K. Hovnanian builders and had to relocate to Atlantic County.
"I had no idea Northfield even existed," says Mary, who is originally from Brooklyn. "For me, Seaside Heights was South Jersey."
Today, more than a decade after the couple bought a new house in Sutton Woods, the couple is intimately familiar with Northfield. And they couldn't be happier about their choice of house and community.
"It's probably the nicest residential neighborhood in Northfield," says Warren, who grew up in Newark. "It has an excellent school system and we like the proximity to the ocean and everything the shore has to offer."
Located off Mill Road, Sutton Woods is a community of well-maintained single family homes developed by K. Hovnanian. Warren and Mary's 4-bedroom, 21/2 -bath center hall colonial had just been completed when they bought it in March 2002.
"It was pretty basic when we moved in," says Warren. "We added a lot of trim, installed hardwood floors and landscaping."
The trim includes fancy wainscoting in the dining room, kitchen and stairway. The hardwood floors are wide planks and extend throughout the first floor and master bedroom suite.
While the lot is not particularly large, the house features an ample 2,800 square feet of living space including a fully finished basement. The front door opens into a two-story foyer. To the right is a bonus room that was once a playroom but now serves as Warren's office. To the left a living room opens into a formal dining room with a bayed window and tray ceiling. The living room is currently used as a music room for 11-year-old Hope, who is proficient on guitar and has recently taken up the ukulele.
The eat-in kitchen was recently upgraded and now features 42-inch cabinets, granite counters and new maple floors. It's open to a family room with a gas fireplace flanked by built-in shelves and cabinets.
At the top of the staircase is a loft area that could be a den or bedroom. In addition to the master, there are three second floor bedrooms, two of which are reserved for Hope.
"She uses one for sleeping and another for playing with her friends," Mary says. "We have lots of space, so she gets as many bedrooms as she wants." Pull down steps in one of the bedrooms lead to a storage attic.
Three walk-in closets in the master suite have more closet space than Mary and Warren can use. In fact, Mary uses one of the closets as an ironing room. Two of the walk-ins are on either side of a spacious sitting area separated from the bedroom by French doors. The master bath has a large soaking tub and a walk-in shower
The finished English basement has Berber carpeting and includes a gym and a sitting area to play video games and watch TV. "It has full-sized windows so it doesn't feel like you're in a basement," Warren says.
Other features include a first-floor laundry room, a two-car attached garage and two zones of natural gas heat and central air conditioning. Outside, a fenced back yard has a slate stone patio and a row of tall arborvitaes that provide a privacy screen.
Warren and Mary are in no hurry to sell their house but they are contemplating a move closer to Warren's current job with a company based in Edgewood that builds commercial and residential apartments.
Mary, for one, isn't eager to leave Sutton Woods at all.
"I love it here," she says. "I have a lot of friends. I love living near the beach and the schools are great."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $399,000, call Lisa Alper Russo of Coldwell Banker, 609-289-2384.
Living space: 2,800 square feet
Taxes (2011): $11,200