She’s a Medium. He’s a Reiki Master (and Former Cop). This is Their Dream Home

Kathleen and Philip Foley transformed a run-down Pine Barrens property into a powerfully peaceful retreat.

The front exterior of the Foleys' peaceful Chatsworth home.
The welcoming facade of Kathleen and Philip Foley's Pine Barrens home exhibits nearly 26 years of careful renovations. Phil created the walkway stone by stone. Photo by Laura Moss

When Kathleen and Philip Foley found this 5-acre Chatsworth property in 1996, they instantly dubbed it House Unloved. Built just four years before they purchased it, the place was in complete disarray. “It was scarred and unloved,” says Phil. Then, in a nod to the ten years it took to find the home—coupled with their efforts to make it their own Zen retreat in the subsequent years—they soon renamed it Took a While Acres. Without a grand plan, the Foleys began to reimagine the property as a calming space, both indoors and outdoors. The spirituality component wasn’t a stretch; Kathleen is a medium and Phil is a Reiki master. It made sense to them to share their positive energy. “We are empaths,” explains Phil. “We feel deeply. Both of us.”

Now, 26 years later, they call their home An Unobstructed Path. “It is both Zen and rustic, magical and practical,” says Kathleen. “A wonderland of boulders and found-object sculptures and Buddha energy.”

Eventually, the pair opened their property to others, offering readings and a place to reflect and find peace. Guests were invited to enjoy the art while discovering their spiritual side. Then, after many years of helping to heal others, they retired in spring 2021, eager to focus on themselves. “The level of energy work we do is exhausting,” explains Phil. “Now we’re focusing on the art and the property. It’s a blank canvas, so I just create.” So, while the property continues to be a work in progress, it’s now a personal space for the two of them to enjoy. “We use the property to reflect,” explains Phil.

The tree-lined pathway leading to Kathleen and Philip Foley's Chatsworth home features a large golden Buddha.

A grand golden Buddha greets visitors to the Foley’s five-acre retreat. The Zen garden is to the right. Photo by Laura Moss

THE ORIGINS

Kathleen, an interior designer, and Phil, a former police lieutenant who retired in December 2020 after nearly 50 years in law enforcement, were always in touch with their artistic sides. “I’ve been in law enforcement all my life, but I’ve always had an inclination to art,” he says. “I have a desire to build things and put them together.” Though they lived in nearby Medford, raising their two now-grown daughters, the couple was ready for more serenity and eager to return to the Pines, where they originally lived, says Phil. The pair settled on this property, knowing it would be a labor of love. “All the molding had been ripped off, and there were deep gouge marks in most doorposts from the dog the previous owners had,” Phil explains. “There was an outline of a garage, but no garage. There was a door that opened to nowhere.” So they set out to refresh, renovate and make their house a home. As they toiled indoors, the land started to call to them. They answered.

A colorful piece of Phil's artwork sits among trees, stones and sculptures.

Phil crafted his latest landscape art piece out of reclaimed organ pipes from a deconstructed church in Philadelphia. Photo by Laura Moss

ENERGY AND REFLECTION

The name An Unobstructed Path comes from their philosophy on life. “The name is our take on what energy needs,” Phil says. “Energy needs to be unblocked. And in order to achieve your highest good, you have to remove the blocks.” To achieve that, the Foleys transformed their property into a garden for reflection and a place that exudes calm and comfort. Phil began building art structures piece by piece using hard materials like rock and glass, while Kathleen began painting in oil on canvas. “I look at rocks the same way Kathleen looks at a canvas,” says Phil. “I’m drawn to stone. There’s a synergy.” So, while Kathleen painted in her studio, Phil had truckloads of river stone delivered. “I learned that the rocks kind of tell you where they want to go,” he says. “You start to get this feeling, and then things start falling into place. That’s how everything came to be.”

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Inside, a Buddhist statue sits surrounded by Kathleen's paintings.

Kathleen’s art gallery features new, original works. The Foleys are hoping to donate works to women’s shelters and hospices throughout the state. “Extra loving light is always uplifting,” says Phil. Photo by Laura Moss

The stone labyrinth is the perfect example. Phil initially sketched out a labyrinth—a circular structure that winds around, drawing one into the center point—then had enormous loads of river stone dumped in his lawn. He assembled the labyrinth stone by stone. “You can sit between the oak trees in the center, reflect and meditate, then unwind back out,” he says. The Moon Gate is another example. It’s constructed of repurposed bricks—more than 2,000 of them. “The bricks have a whole history, a whole life,” he says. “These bricks looked out over Mount Holly for 100 years. Imagine what they can tell you and the history that goes with them.”

A bronze horse sculpture stands among foliage behind the Foleys' home.

A bronze sculpture, a horse named Serenity, stands on the pathway leading to the art gallery. In the background, a giant oak tree sits inside the labyrinth Phil created. Photo by Laura Moss

The Foleys, who will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary next month, revel in the fruits of their labor. “It is both serene and energetic as it continues to be a canvas in progress,” says Kathleen. “It is not perfect, but it is interesting and, according to the delivery drivers, very calming.”

Adds Phil: “We wound up in this magnificent place, and it wasn’t by accident.”

Although An Unobstructed Path is closed to the public, the Foleys welcome inquiries into their healing practices and how their art aids in that process.

To further explore Reiki or Kathleen’s practice as a medium, reach out via e-mail through [email protected]

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