REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Crozet cliff-hanger: Woodsy house offers bird's-eye views
PHOTO BY PETER M. J. GROSS
ADDRESS: 2825 Jones Mountain Lane
YEAR BUILT: 1971
SIZE: 880 fin. sq. ft., 660 unfin.
LAND: 0.09 Acres
CURB APPEAL: 6 out of 10
LISTED BY: Ross Stevens, Stevens & Company, 434-296-6104
Historically, the treehouse market has been unaffected by the boom-and-bust cycles that plague other real estate, even after the profession of arboreal house-agent was popularized in G.K. Chesterton's book The Club of Queer Trades. This may be because most people prefer living among trees to living in them.
But some builders have captured the effect of elevated sylvan construction without sacrificing the comforts of a proper house ["Close and classy: A tree-top cottage right downtown," September 13]. This week's house, by the rolling farmland off Millington road in Crozet, offers another woody vantage from which buyers can look down upon the world.
Because of the sloping lot, the uphill side of the house is level with the ground, while the downhill side is cantilevered to look out on the surroundings. The elevation and the woodsy environs almost make it seem from inside as though the trees are the supports, and in fact, the walls are knotty pine tongue-in-groove paneling extending upward along the cathedral ceiling.
Carpet helps visitors differentiate walls from floors, and a fireplace with a wood-burning stove insert helps keep the wood from becoming overbearing. While the stove can be used for atmosphere, potential buyers will be relieved to know that the house also has a heat pump and central air.
Double-insulated windows line the walls, and although they and sliding glass doors provide nice views, the trees themselves compose most of the scenery, keeping the house well shaded. Light enters from windows in every room, but has difficulty penetrating the darkness created by the paneling in some parts of the house, particularly up near the ceilings. New owners should prune judiciously if they wish to enhance either the view or the light (or both) without sacrificing privacy.
An open room at the front of the house serves as kitchen, living room, and dining area. Including the kitchen in this space is a necessary evil due to the small floor plan, but it would have been better placed on the uphill side of the house so as not to block the views. Fortunately, the small size and low walls of the kitchen area keep it from hiding too much of the scenery.
The main bathroom– functional but small, with a toilet, sink, and shower– sits behind the kitchen, just before the two bedrooms in the back of the house.
Of the two bedrooms, the master, which earns the title by virtue of the inset bathroom, may be best converted into an office space. While it has its own toilet, sink, and shower, only the toilet is enclosed in a room of its own: the other fixtures are in the bedroom proper, the sink and shower discreetly tucked into a corner of the room (a good thing, since the sink is an unsavory avocado green) and marked off by the floor's transition from carpet to linoleum. The stacked washer and dryer are more conspicuous from the doorway. A sink in a bedroom isn't unheard of, but the additional appliances create a bit of an identity crisis for the space.
The remaining bedroom is more focused: there's nothing unusual about it. It has a bay window wide enough for a seat, to take advantage of the downhill views the other bedroom lacks. A closet with louvered doors gives the room some personality, and white walls manage to increase the light in the room.
The living space of the house is amplified by a wraparound deck, essential on a lot where the only level ground is fill. From here, one can reach out and touch the nearby trees or view the adjacent bedrock outcropping that's reminiscent of a sculpture garden.
More bedrock is visible under the house, enclosed in a small dog run. From inside the run, a low door (reached by a crouching walk) provides outside entry to an unfinished lower level, unlikely to be converted into additional rooms due to the restricted accessibility.
While the home may be small for a family, it could work as a weekend getaway or a well-appointed clubhouse for the bachelor who never grew up.
"No Girls Allowed" sign optional.
PHOTOS BY PETER M. J. GROSS