ON THE BLOCK- Grove-y spot: Modernism packaged just so

ADDRESS: 1605 Grove Road



ASKING: $578,000



SIZE: 2,644 finished square feet, 999 unfin.

LAND: 0.49 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Peggy Rogers of Roy Wheeler Realty, 951-5102

As the immutable laws of physics decree, however large a house is, stuff will expand to fill it. Age or family size doesn't matter; it's as though empty storage space has its own gravitational field, like a black hole, drawing new stuff to it, where it often ends up resting for years.

This modernist house is an ideal size for up to four people– without any unneeded storage space to cause trouble. Its simple orthogonal rooms maximize the utility of the 2,600 square feet.

Comfort, even luxury, comes from the many windows, durable materials like limestone and wood floors, and numerous custom touches that grace the large open spaces of the first-floor living room, den/family room, and kitchen/dining area.

Upstairs are two modest bedrooms, perfect for kids, and a generous master suite with large closets and a private south-facing balcony overlooking the landscaped half-acre lot– everything one might need without much extra.

Less than luxurious are two side-by-side full baths upstairs, and a small half-bath on the first floor. The two upstairs have nice tile floors and shower walls, but they could use new lighting and possibly new fixtures, as they've been basically untouched since the house was built. Moving some walls to make a larger master bathroom might be a good idea, but the washer and dryer now squeezed into a closet in the master suite would have to be relocated. (Many people love having laundry facilities in or near the bedroom.)

As one who, for many years, has enjoyed sleeping with white noise produced by various fans, air conditioners, and furnaces, I can attest that this house has that rare luxury that produces the most wonderful sleeping environment: the whole-house fan.

In the spring and fall when nighttime temperatures drop, opening some of the many windows and doors lets the fan fill the house with nice breezes and a wonderful din, while expelling accumulated hot air through the attic eaves vents and saving mucho dinero compared to an air conditioner.

In typical modernist style, there is little storage space in the rooms, but the attic under the shallowly sloping roof, accessed by a pull-down staircase, is all anyone should need.

There is also a cute square shed in the backyard for that inevitable extras or for gardening equipment to maintain the plantings around the house.

The half-acre lot is beautiful from the large flagstone patio forming a central courtyard on the sheltered side of the L-shaped house. The position of the house well back from lightly traveled Grove Road enhances the garden-like serenity of the lot. Yet the location also allows quick access to the 250 Bypass.

The crown jewel is the kitchen and dining area which were designed by the current owner in one of the best-executed renovations we've seen. Highlights include red-brown custom cherry cabinets, off-white limestone floors and countertops, and a large island topped with shimmering black granite.

Those colors are complemented by the red walls and a mix of white, black, and stainless steel appliances, including a dishwasher and fancy range/oven. In the adjacent dining area, a custom bench under the main wall of windows hides storage space, and cabinets along the back wall gracefully conceal a radiator while adding valuable storage space– all while creating a clean, open vibe.

The plethora of windows, especially on the first floor, blurs the boundary between outside and in, as does the patio. The feeling of bringing the outdoors in is furthered by the natural materials on the first floor including the living room mantel and cabinets made from reclaimed wormy chestnut.

Overall, the house appears to be in excellent condition, but we noticed a few small issues, mainly in the upstairs bedroom with the balcony. Nestled next to one wall is a mysterious abandoned pipe in the floor that may or may not be anything to worry about. Nearby, a wall and ceiling area showed some stains indicating water infiltration, but the agent noted that the owner had just repaired the roof, so maybe that's a moot issue.

The equipment room off the corner of the stairway reveals a neat installation of hot water heater, boiler, and electrical panel, giving the impression that the plumbing and electrical systems are in good condition. However, two-pronged outlets throughout the upstairs mean a new owner might want to spring for some sort of electrical upgrade.

This house showcases the details of thoughtful architectural design and remodeling in the middle of an arboretum-quality lot in a quiet and convenient location.

Its size and utilitarian spaces mean a new buyer's wallet will benefit from just-enough storage space, and the price doesn't leap outside the current market. Like medal-less skier Bode Miller, each buyer must judge success in his own terms, but this house seems like a winner. Go for the Grove!