By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department
If Augie and Diana Renna's home in Galloway lacks curb appeal it's only because it can barely be seen from the curb. The sprawling 6,000-square-foot all stucco structure sits well back from Liebig Avenue on a heavily wooded 5-acre property.
With two luxurious master suites, a commercial grade gym and a lovely patio with a pool, greenhouse, gazebo and koi pond, it's the kind of property Realtors like to say would be perfect for a casino executive.
Augie, who actually is a casino executive, certainly thought so. He was smitten the moment he and Diana walked in the front door.
"As soon as I saw the foyer I fell in love with the house," he says. "It was my dream house."
About that foyer. On a scale of 10, it would rank about an 11. It's so large that it encompasses a formal dining room and sitting room with a two-sided fireplace (the other side faces the master bedroom). And the ceiling is high enough to accommodate the Rennas' 20-foot artificial Christmas tree. But size isn't everything. The floor is made of marble tile and a grand staircase leads up to an elegant balcony with wrought iron railings. This foyer even has a view. A triple window looks directly onto the fenced backyard patio and pool.
Augie was not alone in his enthusiasm.
"We loved the foyer and as we walked into each room it got better and better," says Diana, whose father, Michael Messina, owns the landmark Le Grande Fromage nightclub in Atlantic City.
Situated at the end of a long circular blacktop driveway, the house was built in 1998 for Michael Williams, founder of The Gutter Guys. The Rennas bought it in 2009.
"At the time the driveway wasn't paved and the foyer staircase wasn't there," Augie says. "The upstairs wasn't finished and there was no greenhouse, no gazebo, no pond."
The Rennas sunk about $250,000 into upgrades. They paved the driveway and added outdoor lighting. They installed the staircase in the foyer and added a second-floor master suite for their daughter, Rachael.
The floor plan is unusual in that the foyer opens directly into a spacious kitchen with cherry floors and cabinets and a circular center island with black granite counters. A sliding glass door leads to a covered porch with a tile floor that looks out over the fenced pool and patio.
Off the kitchen is a large formal family room with a wood-burning fireplace. The first floor also has an enormous full bathroom and three bedrooms including a master suite with access to the patio and a bathroom with marble tile floor and a corner walk-in shower with multiple sets of jets.
Another full bathroom accommodates a washer and dryer.
The beautifully finished basement takes up the entire footprint of the house and has about 2,500 square feet of living space. It features a den with lounge area, a regulation pool table, full wet bar, a gas fireplace, an extra-large half bath with a marble floor, and another room that Augie had planned to turn into a recording studio. There's also a tanning room equipped with a tanning bed, an office and Augie's favorite room, a fully equipped home gym with treadmills and an assortment of high-end workout machines.
Other amenities include a three-car side entry garage and an immense walk-in attic on the second floor.
The Rennas don't yet know where they'll go when they sell the house. Augie, who grew up in West Orange and played football at Montclair State College, has been in South Jersey for 37 years. He has worked for several casinos as a marketing executive and is currently considering job offers in three states. But with Rachael in college (she's a freshman at Syracuse) the full-time residents of the house are down to Augie, Diana, and their two cats, Simba and Timba. They'll be looking for a place a little bit smaller.
"We'll miss this place," Augie says. "In the summertime, when everything's in bloom and the pool's open with the fountain going and the lights are on, it's beautiful and very private. But there comes a time when you get a little bit older and you downsize to make it easier for yourself."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $789,000, call Tina Ercole LoBiondo of Farley & Ferry Real Estate, 609-501-3211.
Lot size: Five acres
6,000 square feet
Taxes (2012): $11,248