For a man who spent much of his life building houses, you'd think John Van Epps would build one for his loving wife, Regina. But that's not the way he rolls. "I told her to find a house we can afford and we'll buy it but I'm not building one for you," John recalls. ""I refuse to sleep with my client."
Regina knows the real reason.
"He didn't want to build me a house because he knew we'd fight the whole time," she says.
John and Regina and their two kids, ages 7 and 12, were living in Galloway Township when they went looking for a bigger house 23 years ago. The found it in the Marmora section of Upper Township: a 5-bedroom, 3½ bath house custom built in the mid 1980s.
John, a longtime home builder, liked the fact that Upper Township had a good school system, low taxes and was just seven minutes from the beach in Ocean City.
There were other pluses.
"The streets are safe, there's not a lot of traffic and we have sidewalks," John says. 'The county sheriff lives right across the street."
Regina was captivated by the Victorian features of the house such as the bayed windows, wraparound porches and a rambling floor plan rife with nooks and crannies.
"It was designed by a casino executive's wife," she says. "She modeled it after her grandmother's house in Rhode Island."
Regina liked it so much that she decided to add some Victorian touches of her own. With the help of a book called How to create your own painted lady, she and John "Victorianized," the house. installing gingerbread trim and applying a four-color paint scheme of teal, salmon, peach and white.
"We did research to recreate the color combination," Regina says. "We even painted the front door purple. Not too many people have a purple door. It was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun, too."
The house occupies a ¾-acre corner lot on a quiet residential street off Shore Road that ends in a cul-de-sac. It was two years old when the Van Eppses bought it in 1989.
The exterior features real cedar siding with fishscale accents but the gingerbread trim is a made of a vinyl material called AZEC. Two covered porches, one of them screened, wrap around the front and back of the house.
The Victorian style is also evident in the interior. Hardwood floors are found throughout the house except for the foyer, which is a checkerboard pattern of black and white granite tile. The formal dining room has two built-in corner china cabinets, and a glass Victorian chandelier.
The doors are all solid wood with glass doorknobs and most of the rooms have crown molding. Forced air heat enters the house through ornate metal grates that resemble Victorian-era heat registers. Several walls are faux painted and the ceiling of the foyer has a mural depicting blue sky and clouds.
First floor rooms also include an eat-in kitchen with granite counters and a bayed window. French doors in the foyer open to a library. A formal living room has a gas fireplace with a faux painted rose marble surround while a powder room has a pedestal sink and flowery Victorian wallpaper. There's also a media room with access to a mudroom and a back staircase to a second floor bedroom suite.
From the foyer, an oak staircase leads to five second floor bedrooms including a master suite with a cathedral ceiling and a bay window. The updated master bath has rose quartz counters, granite tile floors and a combination whirlpool tub and double shower. A large walk-in closet is entered from the bathroom.
An extra large L-shaped bedroom above the garage has a private entrance and shares an oversized Jack-and-Jill bathroom with another bedroom.
"It lends itself very well to an in-law suite," John says.
Also on the second floor is a laundry nook and a full stairway to a large storage attic.
Outside, an oversized two-car attached garage is entered from the side. The fenced back yard has a paver patio and a storage shed made of Jersey white cedar.
The house has two zones of natural gas heat and central air conditioning. A laundry nook is located on the second floor. Water and septic are private.
Now that their children, Jake and Gemma, are married and out of the house, John and Regina are downsizing.
"The house is way too big for two people," says Regina. "We're getting a smaller place."
They won't be going far.
"One of our kids just had a baby and the other has one on the way," Regina says. "We're staying in the area."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $499,000, call Patrick A. Halliday of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors at 609-602-3917 or email Pat@PatrickHalliday.com
Where: Marmora, Upper Township
Size: 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths
Taxes (2011): $7,297