Everyone knows there’s nothing like family time at a Shore house. For the Baiada family, beach and babies are the perfect combination at their glorious Avalon Victorian.

ann-and-husband-porch-swingThe sweep of front porch at the Avalon home of Ann and Mark Baiada seems to beg visitors to “set a spell” with a glass of lemonade. It’s that kind of porch – inviting, beckoning, a place where family memories are made and intimate stories are shared.

It couldn’t be a more appropriate welcome to this sprawling Victorian retreat for the large and lively Baiada family. “One of the primary reasons we wanted this house was to keep the family together in a special way,” says the family’s matriarch Ann, as she leads a tour of a home that seems straight out of House Beautiful, only without the fuss and frills.

Ann and Mark Baiada could have been called the “Brady Bunch couple” when they married and merged their families back in 1991. That meant bringing together five kids in one Moorestown household, and it meant a lot of creative planning, scheduling and some high hopes that the melding would happen. It surely has – and then some. The young-adult Baiadas – four sisters, one brother – are so close they’ve dropped the “step” in their names for each other. The kids even accompanied their parents on their honeymoon – which brings us to the family’s lovely Shore house.

Just across the street from the Avalon Victorian was the hotel where Ann, Mark and their close family and friends stayed on this rather unusual honeymoon. The Baiada kids discovered they knew the family living in the Victorian and spent time there.

A while later, that house was rumored to be for sale, and the Baiada family debated the purchase until Christen, the youngest daughter, posed this question: “Can’t you imagine hearing the pitter-patter of the little feet of grandchildren in that Avalon house someday?”

That did it.

The family room

The family room

Mark Baiada was at the door of the Victorian shortly after that conversation, and a deal was struck. For Mark, the Shore home reminded him of a house along the river in Delanco, where he briefly lived as a child. For Ann, the house beckoned, too. “It was an easy house to love and to imagine filled with family.”

It’s also a place where Ann and Mark can temporarily step back from their responsibilities with the company Mark created back in 1975 that became Bayada Nurses, and in 2012 was renamed Bayada Home Health Care. The couple met when Mark was interviewing Ann, a registered nurse certified in rehabilitation, for a position with the company. He hired her. And as romance blossomed between the two divorced parents, he also married her.

Today they work together in the company, which is headquartered in Moorestown. It is no longer small: it currently employs nearly 3,000 in offices in 22 states and in India, and has 19,475 employees who care for clients. So it’s easy to say that Mark and Ann could use some downtime.

Inside the Baiada seashore home, you’re immediately stopped in your tracks by the foyer fireplace. It’s impossible to ignore this work of art transformed by a local artist from a typical dark brick to a sprightly treasure. Lined with tiles that have been hand-painted with delightful scenes, the fireplace captures objects throughout the house as themes. It’s finished in Ann’s absolutely favorite blue and white palette.


“Nannie’s Nest” is a bright nook for Ann and her grandchildren

“Those colors run throughout the house,” she explains. Nearly every room has walls or window treatments, furnishings or accessories that carry out the blue and white theme.

On the first floor, there are bends and turns and special areas like “Nannie’s Nest,” a hideaway off the foyer lined with bookshelves that Ann initially thought might be her own special, private nook. “But the kids discovered it soon enough, and now it’s everybody’s nest,” she says. So this is a room where the younger grandchildren – there are nine in all – may cuddle with Nannie, hear a story or just hang out.

The home’s dining room can easily fit most of the family, with overflow handily seated nearby at a table in the large foyer. On one wall hangs a special treasure: a framed photograph of the Miss America Pageant contestants from a bygone era. Other walls carry wonderful witticisms by Oscar Wilde that line the perimeter.

The signature blue-and- white theme runs throughout the kitchen

The signature blue-and- white theme runs throughout the kitchen

“But the kitchen was definitely a problem – we’re a crowd, and it really didn’t accommodate us,” Ann says of the area that was artfully expanded into a combination kitchen/family room as part of a reconfiguration done in two stages.

Today, that kitchen area is the family’s indoor gathering spot, and the living area is occupied by the Baiada clan on almost every summer weekend and on occasional off-season ones.

“I love visualizing spaces,” says Mark, who did just that as renovations updated the home over the years. According to Ann, Mark could have been an architect. “He’s a marvelous planner, and he’s very careful and cautious, and he really understands space and blueprints.”

Ann’s spontaneity and innate sense of home decor combined with Mark’s diligence and care have yielded improvements in the circa-1910 home that yoke past and future so there’s no feeling of “what is this and why is it here?” The older and newer parts of the home are seamlessly merged, just as the Baiada family is.

The upstairs mural highlights the childhood of the five Baiada children

The upstairs mural highlights the childhood of the five Baiada children

Walk up the main stairway and you’ll find a mural on the landing that is one of the highlights of the home. It is a hand-painted beach scene that depicts the Baiada children trudging up from a day at the beach. Each child’s image is a unique character study in those portraits, and details give the mural far deeper meaning.

Upstairs bedrooms, all whimsically named, are decorated in those predominant blues and whites, with window treatments as charming as the furnishings and accessories. These are not slap-dash afterthought bedrooms but rather inviting spaces that are childproofed where they need to be, safe for the crib brigade and loaded with unique features like a loft bed custom-built into a wall.

The Avalon home can comfortably sleep up to 30 friends and family members

The Avalon home can comfortably sleep up to 30 friends and family members

An upstairs apartment was once the special haven for Mark’s late mother, who had limited mobility yet was included in the happy flow of family. Today, that apartment is used alternately by different family members, but nobody has permanent dibs on any spaces at this seashore retreat. “We go by need, age of children, availability of space and just plain practicality,” says Ann, who serves as innkeeper for the expansive home.

A new master suite created above the home’s apartment offers Ann and Mark a sanctuary that’s a slight departure from the blue-white palette. The color of these charming sloped walls leans toward more golden shades, creating an almost brocade effect.

The property can, in a pinch, sleep 30 if you include the small auxiliary home on the property. Sold to the Baiadas by a neighbor, its proximity to the Victorian was obvious motivation to create a kind of compound down by the sea.

One of the major renovations that has delighted both Ann and Mark is an outdoor kitchen and bar area near the pool. The new feature has streamlined meal preparation and made summer life easier. “Definitely one of our best improvements,” says Mark. And for Ann, who certainly wants to be where the action is on weekends, a perfect solution to togetherness.

The seashore home also is where the annual family meeting is held – and yes, it’s actually a formal meeting where family values, goals, philosophies and commitments are discussed and defined. “It’s a wonderful time and place to clarify and talk and yes, sometimes disagree,” says Mark.

But on most days, the focus at this family shore home is fun. “We knew we wanted a place where the kids and grandkids could come to really relax,” Ann says, “and that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be.”

July 2014
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