HACKENSACK, N.J. — It's hard not to perk up when you walk into Joe LaMattina's Hackensack home.
Vibrant shades of green, yellow and blue shoot at you from the handpainted walls as sunlight dances through the stained glass windows.
If you walk past the bright burgundy couch and matching breakfast bar stools to backyard, you'll find yourself under a pergola beside an inground pool.
Dozens of breeds of flowers surround the pool on all sides, and water gently spills into a Koi pond beside the garage.
The stairs to the second floor have mosaic tiles carved into them, and at the landing you can sample the artwork LaMattina has on display.
When you reach the second floor you will notice an old shower door acting as the barrier to the bathroom, and a large mural and painted space heater in the in-home office.
LaMattina, an artist who taught in the Hackensack public school system for 35 years, said his home is a reflection of himself.
"I'm an offbeat kind of guy and I don't want my house to fit into a mold or category," Lamattina, 63, told Daily Voice. "Some people don't like it but for me this is an oasis."
LaMattina bought his three-bedroom, two and a half bathroom Spring Valley Avenue home in 1989 for $175,000. Over the years he says he has matched that amount in renovations and improvements.
"This house is always a work in progress," he said.
The exterior has been repainted five different times, leading to its current shade of orange. There are mosaic floors in the TV room and bedroom, and the basement boasts a DJ booth and full bar. LaMattina installed the inground pool himself, and transformed his garage into a minibar.
"We like to entertain," said the Hackensack native, who shares his home with his partner Fernando and their dogs Gus and Lewis.
Since retiring in 2010, LaMattina spends a lot of his time working on his art in his home. He says it is the perfect creative environment.
"My house gives me solace," he said. "People like to talk about 'stay-cations.' I am always on vacation at home."
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