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Victorian Splendor
01/09/2008 - By By Michael Berman • Photography by Kathleen Hennessy

Victorian Splendor

A modern take on the charm of yesteryear


A walk in the brambles might have one filling a basket with luscious wild blackberries in late summer at the secluded Victorian-inspired home of John and Joan Kelly of Colts Neck. Having met in 1962, as children, at the annual Groundhog Hop at Monmouth Regional High School, it was not until 1986 that they married on that uniquely American holiday, Groundhog Day. Joan, a lifelong educator and administrator for the last six years, is Superintendent of Schools in West Long Branch, and has a passionate interest in historic homes.
John and Joan, originally from the Monmouth County area, were looking for a lot on which to create their dream home. Having spent the last 10 years living in and restoring a classic turn-of-the-century Victorian in Haddonfield, they were familiar with the challenges of renovating a historic home. They purchased a lot in Colts Neck and chose contractor Richard Gatto to help them realize their vision. The 5,400-square-foot home took shape quickly, as the Kellys had strong ideas about the look and layout of their modern Victorian. Set on 1.8 acres of heavily wooded property, they carved out a little slice of
private heaven by choosing to leave as much of the natural flora and wooded character of the lot as possible. They sketched out a floor plan with their contractor, and were off and running.
The Kellys were very involved with the entire building process, making frequent trips up from Haddonfield to monitor the construction. The home took 8 months to construct and then the fun began in earnest. The Kellys tirelessly researched period-specific Victorian wallpaper designs and appropriate stenciling techniques, which John employed liberally throughout the home. Joan “likes to be creative,” and happily spent her time thumbing through design books and magazines. The results of their passions speak for themselves. A home of grand scale, intimate spaces, and Victorian charm now serves as a perfect place for friends and family to gather and enjoy the fruits of their creative labors.
The goal was to create a home with classic Victorian elements, but also to seamlessly work in a modern approach for comfort and convenience. Their choice of Colts Neck for the location of their home was easy. John and Joan find Colts Neck’s proximity to New York and Philadelphia a real plus. They also like spending relaxed summer days in Belmar and consider Colts Neck’s school system to be superior. Joan related that the old saying in real estate “location, location, location” certainly applies equally to a fine school system, which helps maintain strong property values.


Photo Gallery

Click here for Slideshow. You can also click on any of the photos to start slideshow.
  • The formal parlor features a warm red-tone wall color treatment and oak flooring with inlaid borders for added period interest. The raised panel wainscoting is also oak and is stained to a warm chestnut color.  The focal point of this room, and many other

    The formal parlor features a warm red-tone wall color treatment and oak flooring with inlaid borders for added period interest. The raised panel wainscoting is also oak and is stained to a warm chestnut color. The focal point of this room, and many other

  • The classic wingback chairs invite guests to relax and share memories of family and friends.  Family photos find a welcoming home atop a period marble occasional table.

    The classic wingback chairs invite guests to relax and share memories of family and friends. Family photos find a welcoming home atop a period marble occasional table.

  • Glassware and lace, along with other unique accessories, create many areas of visual interest throughout the Kelly home.

    Glassware and lace, along with other unique accessories, create many areas of visual interest throughout the Kelly home.

Slideshow »



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