LISTENING TO JOSEPH COMMORATA DESCRIBE
5 TRAILSIDE PLACE is like witnessing a renowned sommelier
elaborate on the subtle notes of a complex Bordeaux.
Just as the sommelier appreciates the composition
of a sophisticated wine, Commorata revels in the finer
aspects of an exquisite home ó and 5 Trailside Place is no
The quintessential European estate is on the market
in Saddle River, N.J., for $27.5 million. Itís approximately
20,000 square feet on 5 acres, which itself is unique; but
add a plethora of Parisian artifacts and authentic Old World-style architecture and construction, and youíve
got yourself a masterpiece.
"What was previously planned was a house that
would have sat in the front of the property in the
shape of a box," says Commorata, the co-owner of
Commorata & Berardi, a custom design/build company
based in Franklin Lakes, N.J. "We envisioned a
house full of light with a long gallery through it. Light
would filter through all of the rooms...A house that
was designed specifically for the property, to take
advantage of all the vistas." Commorata worked closely with the owners to
ensure that all of the elements they wanted were in
the design. That may be routine with customdesigned
homes, but travelling to Paris to find material
for a house is not so commonplace.
"A lot of the artifacts in the house came from
Paris," Commorata says. His partner, Anthony
Berardi, would visit the Paris flea market and send
photos of interesting items from the 17th and 18 century.
The result: "It sort of reminds you of the homes
that were built in the gilded age," Commorata says.
From the roof down to the wine cellar, this estateís
details are truly unbelievable.
"We were able to do this very, very steep French Normandy
roof, which is typical of the style," Commorata
says. "It looks very, very authentic."
The wrought-iron gates that lead into the wine cellar
are also from Paris, along with barrels from Bordeaux.
The cellarís ceiling ó along with ceiling of the kitchen
and great room ó is made of gorgeous antique wormy
chestnut. The walls are crafted of Parefeuille, a hand-made
terra-cotta rescued from old farmhouses and chateaux
"We liked it so much that we bought whatever they
had," Commorata says of the Parefeuille. "We purchased
this reclaimed material because of its patina, which has a
color range from ochre and wheat to rose, apricot and
moss. That blended with the warm antique wormy chestnut
ceiling and is just an absolute delight to see. The color
combinations are just unimaginable."
The inspiration for the estateís breakfast area was a
little closer to home. Commorata saw a brownstone in
New York Cityís Upper East Side that blew him away ó
he photographed it and showed it to the owners. The
curved glass design was incorporated into the breakfast
room, overlooking the pool, patio and courtyard.
Every single element in the residence is customized,
from the drive-through porte cochere bronze carriage
bumps to a stunning bronze 18th-century outdoor light
fixture. The windows and doors hail from a small Montreal
boutique. "None of the doors and windows in the
house came out of a book," Commorata says. "They
were all individually sketched and sent to the manufacturer
to create shop drawings. The garage doors, for
example, are solid mahogany. Theyíre not something
that youíll see anywhere."
Commorata says the owners designed the house
with a motive to get their children, grandchildren and
friends to visit. As a result, the home includes a video
arcade and childrenís play areas resembling a fairy tale
retreat complete with miniature play houses and a castle,
along with miniature cars and carriages to ride
on. For the older guests, a simulated golf driving range
uses todayís technology to simulate every golf course imaginable
without leaving the sanctuary of the house. If thatís not enough,
there is an outdoor palazzo and a vintage ice cream parlor, contiguous
to an award-winning art deco movie theater, with charming concession
"Itís not a house that you walk in and see a pretentious entry foyer
consisting of a routinely designed double bridle staircase," he says.
"This is a very comfortable house to live in."
With the character of a century-old building, itís hard to imagine
that 5 Trailside Place was just built in 2005.
"Most of the people who worked on the house were from Eastern
Europe," Commorata notes. "It was a consortium of very, very talented
people who really got an opportunity to express themselves.
Every room that we got into, everybody got excited about. Everybody
that was working there knew that this wasnít going to be just another
big house. This was going to be the jewel."
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