By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department
The finished basement in Tom and Claire Kuhar's house in Mays Landing has 2,000 square feet of luxurious living space. It has hardwood floors, a full bar, a billiards room, a poker room, a sound studio and a custom 7 seat home theater. But until recently, it didn't have a bathroom.
"Everyone told me I needed to add a bathroom but I grew up in a 3-bedroom, 1-bath house in Clayton with less than 900 square feet," Tom recalls. "The house already had 3½ bathrooms. I was kind of embarrassed to add another one."
Tom eventually got over his guilt and installed the bathroom in the basement. It was the final touch on the magnificent 6,000 square-foot home he and Claire built on two wooded acres fronting the Great Egg Harbor River in 1996.
At the time, Tom was an executive with Ole Hanson and Sons, and was commuting to the new development at Blue Heron Pines from his home in Pittsgrove Township. He and Claire, a CPA, had specific criteria for the location of their new home.
"We wanted to be on a cul-de-sac in a community that was mostly built out already," Tom says. "We wanted a place that was either on the water or a golf course. And we wanted a wooded lot with at least an acre of property."
They found the ideal location in Winter Wood, a nearly completed 15-home subdivision off Somers Point-Mays Landing Road. The wooded lot they purchased featured two acres of thickly forested property on Pine Needles Drive and bordered the scenic Great Egg Harbor River.
"As soon as I started walking through the woods and catching glimpses of the water I said 'Wow, this could be really cool,'" Tom says. "We made an offer on the lot that same day."
With 4 bedrooms, 4½ baths and the enormous finished basement, the house the Kuhars built had plenty of room for their two children, ages 7 and 11. It also was brimming with upscale amenities that included random width oak plank floors, vaulted ceilings, walls of windows and beautiful wood molding, chair rails and wainscoting.
"We wanted comfortable not formal," Tom says. "We wanted a lot of wood."
From the street, a wide newly resurfaced driveway winds through the landscaped front yard. A spacious two-story foyer is highlighted by an elegant curved staircase. A large room off the foyer with a vaulted ceiling serves as an office for both Tom and Claire. There is no formal living room but there is a formal dining room.
The kitchen has a butcher block island table and Corian counters. A den off the kitchen has a cathedral ceiling and a fireplace with a gas insert and a floor-to-ceiling brick chimney. Glass doors open to a paver patio that overlooks a lush backyard lawn and the river.
The view of the river used to be partially obscured by trees but Tom says the derecho storm of 2012 knocked down 15 oak trees along the riverbank, which improved the view.
"The sunsets are absolutely breathtaking," Tom says.
The view can also be enjoyed from a tastefully furnished screened porch. A paver walkway leads from the patio to a gazebo and a massive tree house with lighting that the Kuhars built for their son. A path leads from the back yard to the river, where a canoe or kayak can be launched.
An elegant first floor master suite has a tray ceiling, two walk-in closets, a bathroom with a whirlpool tub and access to the raised backyard patio.
The second floor has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an exercise room that could be a den or another bedroom. One bedroom has a walk-in closet and a private bath.
Other amenities include a sound system with outdoor speakers, solid wood doors with brass hinges, a back staircase to the second floor and a heated three-car, side-entry garage.
"We didn't spare any expense," says Tom, who has owned several businesses over the years and is currently a commercial and residential real estate broker.
Tom and Claire, who will celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary in August, are now ready to downsize.
"Both of our kids are grown and live in Philadelphia so it's just the two of us," says Tom. "Ideally we'd like to have a property up here and another at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida where we now have an investment property. We've been living the American Dream for 17 years."
An open house at this property, which is listed for $999,950, will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, from noon to 2 p.m. For more information call Tom Kuhar (609-412-5821) or Richard Suthard (609-226-0400) of Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors.
Where: Mays Landing
Living space: 6,000 square feet
Taxes (2012): $14,306