REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Cat's meow: One-level living in Bentivar

ADDRESS: 2110 Bentivar Drive


ASKING: $629,500

2005 COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $379,900


SIZE: 2,429 fin. sq. ft., 200 unfin.

LAND: 2.025 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Owner, Susan Ward, 974-1341

The Bentivar subdivision off Route 29 north has been the subject of news stories recently because a guy who lives there shot his neighbor's cat. While that's a sad story, it shouldn't stigmatize the whole neighborhood as a local Dodge City peopled with gunslingers firing at will at anything that moves. In fact, this relatively new one-story house at the entrance to the subdivision is removed from the scene of the crime, and, perched on its sloping hill, is pleasantly distant from most neighboring houses.

The owners of the house had it built to their particular specifications, overseeing the work themselves, and are proud of the quality and attention to detail, which will of course appeal to people who share their sensibilities. (While that seems like an obvious statement, it's important to note that people's estimations of "quality" and "detail" can vary as widely as people's opinions of a roaming cat.)

The most obvious example of a potential difference of perception is the first thing one sees on approach to the house: the long black asphalt driveway leading up from the road and around the house, ending at the two-car garage and a large paved parking area. In the middle of otherwise impressive landscaping, this black slash through the lawn could be perceived as not only a visual affront, but also an unwise choice from the environment's point of view.

It's bad enough that we have to watch what seems like all of Pantops Mountain, the former Sperry Marine acres, and the huge forest of trees near Johnson Village disappear under impermeable blacktop. Some of us might dare to hope that individual homeowners would opt for pea gravel or some other eco-friendly driveway or parking lot medium to protect the Chesapeake Bay– even if just an iota.

Once up the driveway and in the house, however, there probably will be less quibbling about the things the owners tout. "Premium" Pella windows help keep utility bills down and, with enclosed miniblinds, also minimize the annoying necessity of cleaning those tiny little slats with a toothbrush, or whatever implement fastidious housekeepers use.  

Oak floors in the living areas and kitchen unfortunately give way to carpet in all four bedrooms, but that lapse is redeemed a bit by nice tile in the three baths. The owners also emphasize that this is the only one-story house in Bentivar, a plus for older folks, perhaps, but one that has led to the unusual placement of the master suite directly off the kitchen, with the large picture window above the Jacuzzi overlooking the front lawn– and that black driveway.

The living room and dining room are spacious and well-proportioned, and small touches like marble in the entryway and deep, ceiling-high maple cabinets in the large kitchen are justifiable reasons for the owner to beam.

However, one of the most interesting things about the house is its potential for modification. In the "wing" to the left, with two guest bedrooms, a second master suite, separate entrance, and two full baths, a room currently used as laundry/utility space (with tile floor, plenty of shelves, and a big sink) could easily become a kitchenette. 

This space is divided well enough from the main living areas that we had no trouble imagining it as self-sufficient separate quarters for an au pair (and the baby!), in-laws– even a rental unit. Or, considering the all-on-one-level appeal of the house for baby boomers (and beyond), the space might be eyed as a place for a live-in companion or caregiver when the unfortunate day comes that assistance is needed.

The two acres are beautifully landscaped with "deer resistant" shrubs, a privacy hedge of cedars, and several large trees shading the flat backyard. Also out back is a roomy garden shed. A Trane heatpump, extra-wide eaves, new 45-year-warranty roof, and security and sound systems round out the niceties that do set the place apart. 

Because the owners are selling the house themselves, it may not have come to the attention of the sort of people who would appreciate it– an older couple, we imagine, who want the independence of a house (as opposed to the entanglements and fees of a condo), but who need certain accommodations in accessibility and low-maintenance as they age.

Without trying to raise unhappy specters, we imagine such people might even consider this place to be the cat's meow.

Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown