Charles and Andrea "Andie" Iannuzzelli had just about given up their search for a very special house when they found one in January 2014 that met their every requirement.
"Our list of must-haves was very specific, starting with a Medford Lakes address, a ranch-style home on a lake, and a very large shower," Charles Iannuzzelli explains as he and his wife sit in the gracious dining room of the house that had everything they were looking for.
They almost couldn't believe their good fortune: The vintage 1955 house also was special in so many ways, from its charming log-and-chink exterior to its warm, welcoming feeling inside.
Best of all, the house had been lovingly expanded and improved by the previous owners, so it was in move-in condition for the Iannuzzellis.
The large shower in the skylighted master bathroom was a key element because the couple's older son, Nicholas, now 16, has a seizure disorder that makes assistance a necessity. A house without stairs also was a great aid toward his safety.
And younger son Christian, 14, who has a passion for performing, has plenty of places at home to learn lines for his roles in school and community theater. The vast Tuscan-style dining table is one of his favorite spots.
By last spring, the family had settled into a dwelling that is a remarkable combination of rusticity and elegance.
A cabin look and sensibility are wed to spaces with more formal charm and grace. The warmth of huge log beams, pine ceilings, and wood is evident at every turn.
"We love the different personalities of our home, and the little surprises," says Andie Iannuzzelli, a physician trained in nephrology who introduces her patients to complementary and holistic medicine. She is medical director of Medford Leas, a Quaker-affiliated continuing-care community in nearby Medford.
Charles Iannuzzelli, a consultant on disaster recovery who is basically on call 24/7 through the Northeast Corridor and New England when crises strike, shares his wife's love of the serenity that abounds both inside and outside this house. It sits adjacent to a lake and beach that is theirs to use as community residents and members of the Medford Lakes Colony Club.
The Iannuzzellis are grateful that the former owners not only expanded the house, which sits on a triple-sized lot, but also were so dedicated to creating a sanctuary on its heavily wooded grounds that they salvaged wood from an old barn in the Lancaster area to use in many interior spaces.
"Just about every surface in the kitchen is clad in that barn wood, and we all love it because it's indestructible," Andie Iannuzzelli says.
An all-seasons sunroom on one end of the house is clearly a place to kick back and enjoy the views, and it is well-used when the couple entertain. In less than a year, the Iannuzzellis already have hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, a Super Bowl party, and a philanthropic event.
"Entertaining here is great because the rooms are all in the right places," says Charles Iannuzzelli, who does his share of puttering now that he has the fringe benefit of a workshop right on the property.
If there is a show-stopper in this house, it's the massive lodge room. A dramatic space anchored by a massive stone fireplace with a mantle crafted of yew wood and a light fixture made of antlers, the room also features huge logs that serve as ceiling beams.
A boar's head from an adventure Christian had in Georgia with his grandfather was recently placed on one wall in the lodge.
"My father would not be discouraged from hanging it," Andie Iannuzzelli says, "so there it is."
Overall, lodge perfectly defines this welcoming space that is the central core of the house.
Even the hallways have unexpected alcoves, one of which is occupied by fishing rods and antique snowshoes. A full church pew resides in another hallway.
Art throughout is abundant and varied, some of it created by older residents at Medford Leas.
The boys' bedrooms are cozy and comfortable.
The master suite is luxurious but still rustic, thanks to log ceiling beams into which night lights have been embedded.
On a wall of this room is a reminder that love also lives here. "Kiss Me Goodnight," is the three-word message.
And it is reportedly heeded.