Phil and Debbie Geiseler's back yard is crawling with fiddler crabs. But don't get the wrong idea. That back yard includes a large stretch of wetlands that extend from their manicured lawn all the way to Landing Creek, a tributary of the Great Egg Harbor River. It's the wetlands that are home to thousands of the tiny crustaceans identified by their one extra big claw.
The crabs are best viewed from the narrow boardwalk that extends from the edge of the meadowland to the creek. But the best view of the wetlands is from the porch that wraps around the Geiselers' 4,100-square-foot custom home; or from the balcony off the master bedroom; or maybe from the rooftop deck.
The Geiselers were living in Linwood when they bought the 4.2 acre mostly wooded lot in Egg Harbor Township seven years ago. At the time, they had a 17-month-old son and another one on the way. Phil, a custom builder based in Ocean City, had never built a home for himself and his family.
The lot is one of seven properties in a subdivision surrounded by meadowlands off Somers Point-Mays Landing Road. Phil chose the lot with the highest elevation to build his Nantucket-style home.
The house stands in a clearing surrounded by woodlands at the end of a 400-foot long blacktop and concrete driveway. A gap in the treeline provides a sensational view of the wetlands and Landing Creek, which, according to Phil, is fully navigable and has eight feet of water at low tide.
Phil designed the 4-bedroom, 4-bath house himself with the help of architect Jim Chadwick. It features an exterior sheathed in Cedar Impressions vinyl shingles and a two-story Victorian turret. The wraparound covered porch has a mahogany deck, bluestone columns and a vinyl beadboard ceiling.
An elegant front door made of mahogany skinned fiberglass opens into an enormous great room with solid teak floors that includes a living room, dining room and kitchen.
"We wanted a nautical look," says Phil, who captains his own 55-foot Ocean Yacht. "Every door in the house has a transom window."
The nautical theme is enhanced by the stuffed gamefish displayed throughout the house. Phil and Debbie are both avid deep sea anglers and among their trophies are a 40-pound striped bass and an 88-pound white marlin that Debbie landed in the Wilmington Canyon.
The great room has a gas fireplace and half walls with granite counters that set off the dining room from the living room.
The kitchen has 42-inch custom cabinets, Dynamic Blue granite counters, a stainless steel 6-burner Viking range that runs on propane gas, and oil rubbed bronze fixtures. Other upscale features include under counter and over counter lighting and Travertine tile backsplashes.
French doors in the kitchen lead to a small screened porch that has as ceiling fan and gas grill.
A full bathroom on the first-floor has a walk-in shower and vessel sink. It's right next to a room with built-in cherry bookshelves that Phil uses as an office but could also be a fifth bedroom.
An oak staircase off the foyer area is enclosed in the turret. It leads to the second floor, where there are four large bedrooms and a laundry room. A hall bathroom is equipped with a whirlpool tub.
Double doors open to a spacious master suite. The master bath has under-the-floor radiant heat and an oversized steam shower with multiple jets and stereo speakers. The master bedroom has access to a balcony overlooking the back yard and wetlands.
"It's nice sitting out here in the morning with a cup of coffee," Phil says.
From the balcony a mahogany staircase ascends to the rooftop deck which is plumbed, wired and framed to support an 8-person hot tub. There's also gas service for a grill, and wiring for lights and stereo components.
The finished basement has teak floors, a full bath with limestone walls, and a custom bar made of doors salvaged from The S.S. Arcadia, a steam-powered ocean liner built in 1953.
Other amenities include Andersen windows, security cameras, central vac and baseboard hot water heat. There's a backyard fire pit and an attached two-car garage with mahogany doors that is entered from the side.
When they sell the house, the Geiselers plan to renovate a house they purchased in Egg Harbor Township.
"I bought a fixer upper on the water," Phil says. "It's another challenge but I'm a builder and that's what I do."
An open house at this property, which is listed for $639,000, will be held Sunday, Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information and directions call Tom Kimble of Balsley Losco Real Estate, 609-839-2154.
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