The Home of Regina and Leon Huff
The desk is huge, handsome, and perfectly, absolutely clear. Not a single stray paper, not a file, not even a pen rests on it. Yet this desk is in the working home office of an extremely busy man.
Leon Huff admits it - he's a neat freak, and it shows in his elegant Moorestown home, a place so immaculate it's hard to imagine anyone even lives in it.
The music producer and his wife, Regina, have created a world of striking furnishings, color schemes that blend as harmoniously as the undertones of mellow jazz, offering serene order.
"I love privacy and quiet, and we've found it here," says Leon Huff, who created a music empire with his partner, Kenneth Gamble, when they formed Philadelphia International Records in 1971. Credited with establishing "The Sound of Philadelphia," the company worked with artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, Chubby Checker, Michael Jackson, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.
Recently, a fire swept through the company's Philadelphia headquarters, causing extensive damage and corresponding heartache, and making the Huffs even more grateful for their home, which, they both suggest, is their sanctuary.
"It's not just the look and feel of this house, but also its peace and privacy," says Regina, a Camden native who also lived in Delran.
"I'm a guy who really needs quiet. I do like to get away from the world sometimes," says Leon, who describes himself as ". . . very happy with solitude."
The Huffs first saw the home they now own several years ago, when it belonged to former Eagles Football player Lito Sheppard and his wife, Nicki. As social guests of the Sheppards', the couple recall being smitten.
"I loved it the minute I stepped inside," says Regina, who felt comfortable with the open flow, the private yard, and the expansive feel.
When Sheppard was leaving the area, the Huffs signed on the dotted line, leaving behind a home in Washington Township, Gloucester County, decorated in muted beiges. They were ready for a bit more sparkle.
With the assistance of designer Georgio Savva of Moorestown, they set out to create their vision. Because Savva also had worked with the Sheppards, he knew the home well and could guide them.
"I've always liked Moorestown. I used to ride my bike here when I lived in Cherry Hill," says Leon, who was born in Camden and lived in a modest rowhouse with small rooms, with his father's barbershop in the basement. "I'm not spoiled, and neither is Regina. We both feel very fortunate to live in this beautiful place."
The couple, relative newlyweds, married in 2005 after their earlier marriages ended in divorce. And there's no mistaking that their taste for glamour came to the fore when they moved into the property in April.
The living room is a study in art deco with walls in sea-mist blue with a cocoa glaze, the handiwork of Lillian's Paintbrush in Moorestown, a company owned by Lillian Beretta that specializes in custom paint finishes. The company did all of the customized walls.
In the living room, accessories in metallic tones complement the walls, and a lush curved sofa is done in raw silk. The curvy motif is repeated in an area rug over the lacquered mahogany wood floor. Art by the Phoenix Art Group, a collective of Arizona artists who will custom-match any palette in original artwork, unifies the room, which might easily be a 1950s Hollywood mogul's lair.
The foyer boasts a remarkable sculpture of a joined male and female in silver and bronze, and a three-dimensional wall piece of gleaming acrylics and stainless steel. Across from the foyer is the large dining room. Ultramodern chairs with flashes of silver and high-gloss Italian lacquer anchor the collection of Murano glass that Regina has been collecting, in her word, "forever." Murano pieces crop up in other spaces, but the dining room is the showcase.
From the contemporary kitchen, with wood cabinetry with raised panels, a Murano light fixture, and granite counters, there are spectacular views of woods and trees, and of a deck, with restaurant-style grill, that is custom-made for parties.
"But we still order in a lot of pizza," confesses Regina, who patronizes a popular spot on Main Street.
Leon's home office with its pristine desk holds treasured photographs, including one of Michael Jackson as a preteen that is "a cherished possession," he said.
A family room with soaring ceiling and double-paddle fans is spare in furnishings, and blends chocolates, cocoas, and beiges for sophistication and serenity. This is a room to kick back in and chill, but one that can also put on company manners for Sunday sports or family gatherings.
Upstairs, a master bedroom in pale beiges has as its centerpiece a four-poster bed that looks straight out of a European castle. In a home full of showstopping art, furniture, and accessories, this suite is still one of Regina's favorite spots, and another haven for her Murano glass.
But the crown jewel is the gigantic lower level, a kind of playground for all seasons. Every recreational toy is in this space, from a massive pool table and customized game table to a bar, full movie theater, and lounging area.
The feature the Huffs love most is one of the few that remain from the Sheppard era. Seems Sheppard and his wife commissioned a jazz mural, also from Lillian's Paintbrush, that stretches across two walls of the lower level. "When I saw that, I really had a feeling that we were meant to be in this house," Regina Huff says. "The music theme of that mural made it seem like an almost magical match."
Also displayed on the lower-level walls are the gold and platinum records won by Gamble & Huff's performers. The late Teddy Pendergrass, who was extremely close to Huff, has a wall of his own.
There's a far less public room on that lower level that is one of the most precious to Leon. While it's basically a storeroom, in it are the many honors, awards and memorabilia of a full life in the music industry. But even in this home, there just aren't quite enough walls to display it all.
Those cherished reminders of Philadelphia International Records have taken on even greater significance since the Feb. 21 fire that destroyed some of that glorious past.
Finally, tucked away in a corner of the expanse is a simple room "decorated" with basically just one piece of furniture: a barber chair.
That chair is not just a successful entrepreneur's reward - a place for the luxury of home haircuts - it's also a nod to Leon's past.
"My father was very important in my life. And our Camden home had that basement barbershop," Leon says. "So when I come in here, I'm reminded of that other life, one that taught me a lot that's important."
Leon gets a bit nostalgic for that life sometimes. "Those were happy days back in Camden, and I don't ever want to forget my roots," he says. "Roots matter."