Paradise Found In Holmdel

Carolyn and John Eknoian met each other for the first time on a blind date. Carolyn had grown up in Manasquan and John spent his early days in Spring Lake, moving to Wall and attending high school there,  but they did not meet until college. When mutual friends arranged the meeting, John was attending Villanova studying accounting, while Carolyn was enrolled in a business administration program at  Rosemont College. This was one blind date where the couple hit it off. They both moved back to New Jersey after graduation and were married in 1996.

John was working in North Jersey at the time of their marriage and the newlyweds ended up buying a condo in Howell with a Freehold mailing address as their first home together. Their first daughter, Kate,  was born in 1999, followed by their son John in 2001. The couple was thinking of a bigger home, since their family was expanding. Also, since John senior had started working in New York City, commuting time was becoming an issue. John and Carolyn found a late 1980s vintage home in Holmdel that needed major renovations and updates to make it comfortable for the expanding Eknoian family, which would  soon include their son Bobby, born in 2002. They decided to live in the four bedroom, 2,600 square foot home while they renovated. John went along with the plan, but freely admits “it was Carolyn’s passion”  that got the job done.

Carolyn loves a challenge, has boundless energy and a solid creative vision. Her father was a commercial architect in New York City, and although he passed away in 1985 she traces her love of design and  architecture to him. She would need plenty of passion, because the project seemed to go on and on. She admits that after all the work and stress of living in a work zone for as along as it took, they might  have been better off knocking the house down and starting from scratch.

In 2008 the Eknoian family expanded to 6 with the addition of Sarah, and by 2010, when it came to their family home, John and Carolyn were thinking bigger would be better. The family is quite active and they  love to entertain, since most of John and Carolyn’s family remain in the area. With John coaching his son’s football teams (John himself had a memorable high school football career as a quarterback in Wall) and the girls’ cheerleading and active social life, a bigger home seemed like a good call – if only they could find the right home.

John was quite clear about his needs. He wanted a house “where it was all done,” move-in ready and to meet the requirements of their family without needing additions, renovations or upgrades. They both  wanted to stay in Holmdel: the schools were great, their children’s friends were all in town and the commute for John was manageable. Carolyn had started to look casually into what was available when a real  estate agent gave her a heads-up about a house that had not even hit the market yet, but was magnificent.

The 6,500 square foot, 6 bedroom, 6 bath home on 2.5 meticulously landscaped acres (featuring fabulous gardens) was an instant match for the Eknoian family. They had found a dream house for their family  and friends to enjoy without even changing their zip code.

The Eknoian landscape design and gardens combine color, pattern and texture to create a magical symphony of natural wonders. The great French Impressionist painter Claude Monet would be right at  home in this fabulous landscape design created by Dale Long of Farmingdale along with input from a perennial garden consultant. The Eknoian’s had worked with Dale on their previous house and were  thrilled when they learned that he had done their new home’s design for the previous owners as well. Maintenance and a commitment to beauty are needed to keep this kind of garden looking great, and Carolyn can often be seen here and there, weeding and trimming. The perennials featured in this masterpiece of natural wonders include: gerbera daisies, cone flowers, crepe myrtle, black-eyed susans,  lavender, grasses and purple spikes of Lythrum, among so many others. The natural design of the floral garden was inspired by flowers typical of the Jersey shore.

The exterior of the Eknoian home is cedar shingle and reminded John and Carolyn of the classic shore houses they grew up around. The exterior areas of this grand home allow for numerous entertaining  options including a magnificent pool, a decorative gazebo, a cook out grill/outdoor kitchen area and various spaces to curl up with a good book and relax surrounded by nature’s splendor.

The Eknoian home was originally built in 2002 and was designed with family in mind. Carolyn believes a home should be inviting and should not just feel like a showpiece. With four young children she is  proud this is a home where family and friends can truly enjoy being together. The two story vaulted entry way is light and bright featuring travertine flooring and a sweeping grand staircase. The sunken family  room is open to the kitchen and eating area to allow for casual conversation and a welcome open floor plan. Some of the decorative and comfortable furnishings (such as the leather sofa) came from the  Eknoian’s previous home, and some were purchased exclusively for this home. Plantation shutters allow for total control of natural light and splashes of color are provided by the  Oriental rug and plush fabric drapery.

The formal dining room is much used on family holidays and for large gatherings. The room features decorative ceiling moldings, a crystal chandelier and comfortable upholstered chairs to enjoy a grand meal  together. Ornately carved crown moldings continue the decorative theme and are painted in a soft antique white to help them stand out. A beautiful oriental rug in royal blue and crimson red ground this room in rich regal color and pattern.

The kitchen is the center of the Eknoian home. This gourmet’s delight features Wood-Mode custom kitchen cabinetry, a Viking stove top, Bosch dishwasher and Thermador wall ovens. The spacious center  island is granite-topped and allows for plenty of prep room. Carolyn is putting her stamp on the kitchen space by replacing the backsplash with a beautifully patterned Onyx and Carrara marble tile, which adds  visual interest to this elegantly designed kitchen space. John has Armenian roots and the family also has Italian roots, so coming together over food makes for enjoyable family time. Carolyn points out the round table where her family has meals together on a daily basis whenever possible so they stay connected as a family.

Each of the Eknoian children has their own personality, and their rooms reflect that personality in design and color. A beautiful wall mural adorns one girl’s room done in a pink paint theme. This decidedly feminine room also has plenty of space for stuffed animals and a doll house, as well as a pink plaid teepee for late night camping trips.

One of the boys’ rooms features stripes and a blue and red paint and fabric color theme. Wood blinds and plenty of room for guitars and amps make this a perfect guy hang out. The master bedroom is soft  and inviting, featuring a lavender color theme and well-appointed master bath. The painted furniture and gold accented bedroom furniture keep the mood light and bright, while a leaded glass decorative oval  window in the master bath adds a wellplaced classic touch.

The basement of the Eknoian family home is what sold John on this house as soon as he saw it. John often has his football team and their parents over for after-game or pre-game events and get- togethers.  John and the team must be doing something right, since the Holmdel Hornets won the Jersey Shore championship in 2013. The overall design offers plenty of room to stretch out and run game video on the  flat screen, or when study is over to play games on the pool or ping pong tables or play Pac Man vintage video games. A wine room offers adults the chance to toast to a game well played.

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16 Nov 2015

By Michael Berman