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N.J. home echoes Bauhaus design

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Reminiscent of the pure, unadorned structures of the German Bauhaus architects, a Saddle River, N.J., home offers a sanctuary within the woods.

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HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Reminiscent of the pure, unadorned structures of the German Bauhaus architects, a Saddle River, N.J., home offers a sanctuary within the woods.

Neil and Ruth Kilstein found the home down a secluded road 23 years ago on what was then the property of an old estate, and the dense forest was dotted with mainly contemporary homes.

"It was the architecture," said Neil. "It was just different."

The cubic forms of the home, best seen from the back, cleverly hide six levels, five bedrooms and 7½ baths. A generous use of glass adds interest to the right angles.

Like the homes of the German architectural movement, the dwelling's exterior is free of fancy eaves and cornices. The humble facade is broken up by cantilevered rooms and decks that simultaneously provide a sense of balance.

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And while the outside provides seclusion, the interior is very open. Quarter- and half-walls and interior windows allow for views into other rooms and levels.

A free-standing staircase and an indoor atrium with a 30-foot ceiling form the heart of the house. Sunlight pours in from the skylight above onto several plants and the turning metal pieces of a kinetic sculpture.

The living room, which is open to the family room below, offers a cozy corner overlooking the back yard, in-ground pool and multiple decks, and has its own deck among the trees.

Statues and sculpture that the Kilsteins have collected from around the world bring color and excitement to the numerous niches and display shelves that are created by the quarter-walls.

With the clean lines of its metal cabinetry, the classic St. Charles kitchen appears timeless. The work area is ideal for entertaining, with two sinks and dishwashers, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer and a Jenn-Air grill. A pass-through visually connects it with the rest of the home.

Lush outdoor greenery forms a natural backdrop through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the family room, which has a fireplace, 12-foot-high ceiling, attached entertainment center and bookshelves accessed by a library ladder.

But the lowest level holds the home's biggest surprise: a regulation squash court, which can double as a racquetball court or a place for restless children to play.

To be fully surrounded in the beauty of the 2-acre forested property, two places top the list: the windowed sunroom off the dining room, or the stunning master bedroom with its atrium-like sitting area on the home's highest level.

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To create the unique spot, the Kilsteins hired an architect to bump out the room and fill the two corner walls with two stories of vertical windows.

"This is the place to be when it's snowing," said Ruth. "It's as if you could touch the trees."

The suite also offers his-and-hers full bathrooms and walk-in custom closets.

But perhaps the best places to enjoy the outside are on the tiered decks and the brick patio that follow the slope of the property down to the in-ground pool, each level framed by terraced planting areas.

All bedrooms have decks, skylights and full baths. A studio apartment has its own entrance over the four-car garage and a living area, bedroom area, kitchenette and full bath.

The home is listed for $2.25 million.

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