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Buyers Seek Out House of Their Youth

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By Kathleen Lynn

buyers_home_of_youth(MCT)—The home you grew up in creates the framework for the home you choose as an adult—whether you end up someplace very similar, or seek out its opposite. And for some people, the answer is a place that manages to offer both the familiar and the completely different, locked together like a puzzle.

The Record asked readers to share how their childhood homes affected their adult choices; here are some responses:

Convenient Quaintness: Growing up, Dean Mastrojohn loved the “quaint, small-town feel” of Dumont, N.J. But the location wasn’t ideal: Getting anywhere—highways, shopping malls, New York City—took at least 15 minutes longer because the town can be reached only by local roads. He and his wife also wanted a more traditional home than the ranch he grew up in.

“I was looking for something similar, but yet very different at the same time,” says Mastrojohn, a corporate affairs specialist.

The couple found their answer in Maywood, N.J., where in 2004 they bought a Cape Cod that they later expanded into a colonial.

“In Maywood, I can literally walk out my front door and get to the Bergen Town Center in five minutes by foot,” Mastrojohn says. “Even getting to the George Washington Bridge during my morning commute to New York is so much easier — a ride right up Route 4, as opposed to a long haul on a bus down Teaneck Road.”

Even better, Mastrojohn says his family still enjoys the warmth of a small community.

“I knew I’d want my child to know what it feels like to grow up in a town where everyone knows your name and neighbors are always there to lend a hand, if needed,” he says. “I can now tell you that my 4-year-old son, Nicholas, now gets to enjoy that same exact feeling in beautiful, small-town Maywood. Plus, if we’re still here years from now, he won’t have to worry about it taking him forever to run an errand.”

Big and Busy: Karen Topjian, an Englewood, N.J., interior designer, grew up in the 1950s in a large Victorian home in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., that was always buzzing with activity. She was one of six children, and her parents liked to entertain. So the place was never empty.

After she married and began a family, Topjian and her husband searched for a place that captured some of the warmth and character of her childhood home.

“I didn’t really want a large Victorian,” she says. “They’re lovely, but I was looking for a different look. But I knew I wanted it to be old.”

She ended up in a Tudor in Englewood, where she lived almost three decades while raising three children. Over the years, she upgraded the electrical and plumbing systems and reinsulated and expanded the home. She wasn’t intimidated by the repair issues that come with older homes because she had watched her parents fearlessly tackle renovations to their Victorian.

“The home captured the spirit of my childhood home,” she says. “It didn’t have to be a replica, but it had to capture the spirit.”

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