REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Location, location: Colthurst house offers quick town access


ADDRESS: 103 Tally Ho Drive

NEIGHBORHOOD: Colthurst Farm

ASKING: $1,200,000

ASSESSMENT: $897,800


SIZE: 4,126 fin. sq. ft., 908 unfin.

LAND: 1.4 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet  Re/Max Realty Specialists 974-1400 

A survey of current properties for sale reveals approximately 50 listings (give or take a few) for over $1 million– including some considerably over, as in $28 million. How does a well-padded house-hunter decide among such an embarrassment of riches?

Well, location is reputed to be the most influential element of a buyer's decision, and if that's true, this property off Garth Road has a leg up on some of its companions on the high-end list. Of all the county places for sale for $l million plus, the agent claims that this one is the closest to town. And thanks to being situated in a well-established (read: more than 10 years old) subdivision, although only 1.8 miles from the 250 By-pass, the place is so secluded and quiet that a visitor can be fooled into thinking he's much farther away from civilization.

And while not sumptuous or flashy, the house itself has much to recommend it to Daddy Warbucks' attention. The current owner, a contractor and builder, has upgraded the original 1954 house with a main-level addition (new kitchen, family room, mudroom) as well as an entire second story– including a master suite with one of the prettiest bathrooms we've seen. The makeover expanded the number of bedrooms to four (a room currently used as a study could also be a bedroom, but with built-in shelves across an entire wall, it works better as a library) and the number of full baths to three.

The lot sits a bit above the road, providing a nice view of mountains and forests. Nearby houses are disguised this time of year (they're no doubt visible when the leaves fall), but they're far enough away not to be intrusive. The lot is (inexplicably) a pie-shaped wedge between two horse paddocks, and presumably density and division restrictions will keep them open spaces, so there's probably no reason to fear closer development. The backyard has been pleasantly landscaped around two imposing trees, and the front yard has been left unmolested (unlike some other houses we've seen in newer subdivisions) by a ghastly river of asphalt. The driveway leads to the side with enough space for cars to park, the garage having been converted to the new kitchen in the renovation.

Unusual things about the house include a "coffered" ceiling– a grid of recessed square panels– in the dining room, where the exposed beams are echoed by floor-to-chair-rail moulding panels and pillars separating the room from a wide entrance hall. The coffered ceiling theme carries through to other rooms including the kitchen and family room where bright white exposed ceiling beams add interest to rooms with big windows. In the dining room, and in the living room in the original part of the house, 15-0ver-15 panel windows reach from the floor almost to the ceiling, like at Monticello.

One fun aspect of the house is a "hidden" office tucked behind a half bath in a short hall from the dining room, and beside the breakfast area at one end of the large kitchen. The secluded space has a desk and shelves but is disguised so slyly that it's almost undetectable from the kitchen. We picture mom back there nursing a gin fizz while the baby lobs Jello from his high-chair and traveling church recruiters knock vainly on the side door.

The kitchen itself has a lot of plusses– a big butcher-block-topped island, subway-tile surrounding the stove, and granite counters in an unusual solid black instead of the more common (and prosaic) speckled beige or grey. But the mudroom on the other side of the kitchen wall blocks views of the outside from the sink, unfortunate since we consider something pleasant to look upon to be a requirement for anyone expected to stand there elbow-deep in soapsuds.

There are three fireplaces in the house, all wood-burning: one surrounded by stone in the den, and two others (both brick), in the formal living room and in a basement family room. Also on the main level is a pass-through sort of butler's pantry (the agent calls it an "entertainment center" since it's conveniently positioned right off the large deck) in the process of being completed. When the owner's through with it, it will boast a wine cooler, sink, ice maker, shelves and counter, and will be easily accessible from the hot tub and pergola at one end of the deck.

The original part of the house contains– in addition to the living room– the paneled bedroom that could be a library, another bedroom, and an old-school pink-tiled bathroom. The addition of one door could provide privacy enough to consider this a separate guest suite.

Upstairs are the master suite with great bathroom and two more bedrooms with sloping ceilings. The third full bath serves both these bedrooms, currently used by children, so the paint– pink and pea green– isn't as au courant as in the chocolate-brown dining room and pumpkin mudroom, but that's an easy fix.

The full basement is divided into utility space (washer/dryer, extra fridge, all of which convey) and a paneled "family room"– the low point (literally and figuratively) of the house: the heavy paneling and a window well covered by the deck make it dark, almost oppressive. This room, in fact, seems like an afterthought, although it was no doubt part of the original structure. Given the striking new den off the kitchen, and the formal living room, it seems it would be easy to turn this superfluous space into storage.

The house is lovely, the views are good, and the construction seems first-rate. The only temptation is to whine that the price seems a little much for a place without a pool and garage.

Then we remember the proximity to town, and we pipe down.

Each week, a brave local seller invites the Hook to provide an impartial, warts-and-all look at their real estate listing. E-mail yours today!

Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown