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Two Sides To Every Story: Donnelly-Bowler
08/23/2010 - By A.J. Perna

Two Sides To Every Story: Donnelly-Bowler

Photography by AK Photo / Al Kruper

Colts Neck Couple Strike A Balance
Between Formal and Casual

Walking past the fountain in the center of the circular driveway, up the granite steps, and through the arched front doors, first time visitors to the home of Matt Donnelly and Mary Beth Bowler gaze from side to side and take in the elegant grandeur of this spectacular space. Moving throughout most of the remainder of the  gleaming, uncluttered, expansive first floor, many would describe the feeling as formal. It is a home that exudes refined taste. The big surprise comes when guests  glance out the rear windows.

When Matt & Mary Beth purchased their nearly 10,000 square-foot home on two and one half acres from the original owner, back in 2003, they were quite content  with leaving the home as it was. The home was move-in ready and required no structural, design or architectural changes, as far as Matt & Mary Beth were  concerned. But, it was the finished, walk-out lower level, originally designed as separate living quarters with a full-range kitchen leading to an enormous backyard  that sparked some inspiration. They would concentrate on turning the rear portion of the property into a place for casual entertaining and fun. Matt will even go so far  as referring to the finished product as “party central.”

The first order of business was, of course, a pool, as well as a hot tub. Next up was lush landscaping with beautiful blooming foliage and fruit-bearing trees – plum,  peach and crabapple. From that point, the next logical step, for Matt, was a pool house. But, he wasn’t thinking about a run-of-the-mill, ordinary cabana; no, that  just wouldn’t do.

The result of Matt’s planning was over 1,900 square feet of “man cave,” complete with a fireplace, balcony, flat screen televisions, full bath, wine chiller, and  kitchenette. The total size had to be kept below 2,000 square-feet and no stove was installed to avoid having the pool house classified as a separate residence.  Matt and Mary Beth estimate that, thanks mainly to their kids, more than 50 parties - each with over 50 guests - have been successfully held in this backyard  entertainment Mecca.

Still, life is not all a party for Matt and Mary Beth. They enjoy more than their fair share of quiet, comfortable family time in the more “formal” areas of their home.  But, they worked so hard on the “casual” areas they can’t be blamed for enjoying the fruits of their labor.






Beyond the fountain and circular driveway, double solid-wood front doors are flanked by pairs of French doors, each leading to a terrace on either side.

















Feet stay warm all winter thanks to the radiant heating system under the floor tiles. In the two story foyer, huge tiles accented with smaller diamond shaped versions, extend  on past the curved oak staircase and on into the music room.

The exterior of the pool house was designed to echo the look of the main home, and is more than just a place to change out of a bathing suit after taking a dip in the 20x40  foot, heated salt-water swimming pool.

A stone water fall separates the pool area from the walk-out lower level. Thoughtfully-placed plantings change color throughout the year, actually morphing and varying the  overall look of the backyard as weeks and months pass.

A two-story field stone gas fireplace with a wood mantle towers above tile floors in the main gathering area of the pool house.

A white Kawai® baby-grand piano stands in the corner of the music room. Resting on top, though, is the room’s real conversation piece - A Fender Telecaster®, signed by  Bruce Springsteen. Matt was the highest bidder at an auction benefitting Rumson Country Day School. The guitar also came with a lesson from Bruce, himself.

Directly off of the cozy, breakfast area is an elevated deck, overlooking the backyard.

A simple chandelier over the large mahogany table hangs suspended from the center from an inset, oval dome. The size and shape of the shallow tray ceiling mimics the  pattern of the inlaid floor tiles.

Any chef would be happy to prepare a meal in the superbly efficient, gourmet kitchen. Granite countertops and built-in wet bar compliment the state-of-the-art stainless steel  appliances, including a Sub-Zero® refrigerator, double convection ovens and a six-burner gas cook top.

Natural light streams through the master bedroom windows and glistens off of rich hardwood floors under a deep tray ceiling. A couch takes residence where a traditional  footboard might be.

The Master Bath features a separate water closet, walk-in double shower with stone tile, granite counter tops and a sunken Kohler® jetted tub under a large picture window.


The Bar Room is the only truly casual space in the living areas of the main house. Exposed Canadian Maple beams extend beyond the fully stocked bar, across the room  from the stone fireplace, to the other side, just over a shuffleboard table.

An intricate inlaid tile rosette in the lower entryway sets a more laid-back tone for this area of the home.


Grand Designs Doors, Inc.Eagle Oaks

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