Photographs by Bob Rozycki and Tim Lee
From the moment you drive down the tree-lined allée, tires crunching on the gravel, you get the sense that life at Deer Run is a world apart.
Indeed, the Waccabuc retreat of Judie and Howard Ganek has provided nearly three decades of escape from the everyday, a serene and separate world where artful living plays out indoors and beyond.
You sense this in the rolling lawns dotted with modern sculptures, in the vine-accented grand terrace where many a guest has enjoyed the uninterrupted views and in most every inch of the home itself, where the couple’s vast art collection conveys relaxed country living mixed with an appreciation for the unique.
“We have what I call an eclectic collection,” Howard says. “We cross a lot of borders.”
The home’s sophisticated feel – exemplified by an unusual curved wall that ties a few of the ground-floor rooms together – and muted colors provide a fitting backdrop for the Ganeks’ vibrant array of sculptures, paintings, ceramics and installation works.
The couple, based full-time in Manhattan, have begun wintering in Palm Beach, following Howard’s retirement from the financial investment business.
Enjoying and maintaining a third property, especially from afar, has become too much.
“We don’t have any time,” Judie says with a sigh. “We’re sad we have to leave here.”
But the Ganeks’ closing the chapter on their life at Deer Run brings opportunity for another family to create its own story on the gated estate that sprawls over more than 10 secluded acres.
The Ganeks were attracted to the property 27 years ago for its simplicity.
“When we bought it, it was a flat piece of grass,” Judie says.
“There was nothing here,” Howard echoes. “There was zero, if you can imagine that. It was all grass.”
Today, it’s a showpiece that feels like the most elegant of parks with mature trees, flowering bushes, rolling lawns and a large meadow visible from every room at the rear of the home.
“That’s what we wanted, very low-key,” Judie says. “We wanted a house that was a house on open property. We love the open spaces.”
And they have maintained that sense of space, a rarity today, even though they prefer now to keep the property’s namesakes outside the fence. At first, though, the deer seemed cute.
“We were city people,” Judie says with a laugh. “We saw them prancing around, and we thought, ‘How beautiful.’ We were dumb.”
Inside the home
“The rooms are all nice sizes, really,” Judie says of the house, built in 1970.
From the oak-floored foyer, steps lead down into the formal living room. The space, with a wall of French doors that overlook the grand terrace, is a study in elegance and sophistication.
“The house, I think, lends itself to being outside,” Judie says. “You feel that outdoor/indoor (sense).”
Walk through the living room to encounter the coziest room of all, a paneled library. Even though this space, too, has views into the conservatory and beyond, it feels cocoon-like with its fireplace, built-in pine cabinetry and adjacent wet bar.
The conservatory, added on by the Ganeks, juts out into the property to create a magical place where they often entertain. A large table dotted with ceramic pieces easily seats 20 or more. The slate-floored space is an all-season room, especially dramatic at night as many of the trees have been wired with lights.
Another highlight is the master bedroom. The large, high-ceilinged space, which easily accommodates a seating area, has a wall of glass doors that again brings nature inside.
“I love waking up and opening the blinds and seeing outside,” Howard says.
A fireplace adds a cozy touch to the room, which leads into a generous dressing area and a charmingly renovated, retro-inspired bath. There Waterworks’ tile evokes a classic European hotel. The vintage charm is complemented by modern amenities, including a spa bath and separate shower.
The first floor is rounded out by the formal dining room – a showstopper is the Tom Otterness frieze that surrounds the doorway – and the kitchen, a workmanlike space that’s more function than high fashion. A surprisingly deep closet is a hideaway for china, with the room boasting Dacor and Sub-Zero appliances and a breakfast area.
“It is small, but we entertained 75 people out of this kitchen and never had a problem,” Judie says. The home even hosted 400 guests for their daughter’s wedding.
(Helping with deliveries for such occasions is an access entrance toward the rear of the property. As Judie says, “It’s good when you have a party, you don’t want them driving trucks on your grass.”).
Adjacent is the pantry, laundry room, bedroom with en suite bath and access to the two-car garage and its second-floor apartment, ideal for staff/caretaker or guests.
Upstairs are a few more rooms in an area ripe for imagination, a onetime attic done over by the Ganeks. The large loft-like space is the sky-lit family room, with two spacious bedrooms branching off and a smaller bedroom that could be used as an exercise room, office, study or studio.
The property lends itself as easily to a quiet morning stroll as to a challenging game of tennis on the Har-Tru court.
“It’s hidden,” Judie says. “It’s nice. You don’t hear it, the balls, if you’re at the pool. No pounding.”
And that pool is its own oasis, set down a few stone stairs off the grand terrace. The pool anchors an expansive seating area completed by an elaborate poolhouse and pergola that includes dressing rooms, baths, showers, closets and an outdoor kitchen.
Every aspect of the property feels private, thanks to the tall trees that surround the borders.
As Judie says, the home has provided their family – now two grown children and five grandchildren – with plenty of memories.
“The house is loving, warm and wonderful.”
For more information, contact Susan Stillman at Houlihan Lawrence at (914) 764-5762, ext. 334, (914) 589-4477 or SStillman@houlihanlawrence.com.
DEER RUN AT A GLANCE
• 6,200 square feet
• 10.24 acres
• Bedrooms: 6
• Baths: 6 full
• Amenities: Total privacy, gated entry, pool, pool house with kitchen,
Har-Tru tennis court, caretaker apartment.
• Price: $2,500,000