REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Oldish, newish: A split personality at Lake Monticello


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ADDRESS: 29 Cliftwood Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: Lake Monticello

ASKING: $305,000

ASSESSMENT: $303,900


SIZE: 2,500 fin. sq. ft. 

LAND:  0.344 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8.5 out of 10

LISTED BY: Craig McCormick, Monticello Country Realtors, 434-589-6386

No one visits Jefferson's Monticello to get smallpox. Similarly, visitors to Williamsburg are thankful that while the staff wears period clothing, they practice modern hygiene. On the whole, people prefer that a historical experience not be couched in the period's smells and infectious diseases (not to mention embarrassingly outdated concepts of gender equality and civil rights). 

While this week's house has a certain traditional charm, the obsession with symmetry demanded by some colonial designers (we're looking at you, Charles Bullfinch) has given way to a more modern philosophy of allotting each room as much space as it needs. It's a historic look with a modern vibe.

From the foyer, rooms open to the right and left, suitable as living rooms or dens, each taking a roughly equal corner of the house. A half bath is immediately accessible, along with stairs to the second floor. The familiar layout is comforting, and the soothing impression is enhanced by hardwood floors. 

At the back of the house, the architectural restrictions loosen a bit: the kitchen extends across the space to borrow from its neighboring room. This allows for a standard food preparation area– including an island with chairs– and also an open space with enough room for a full dining table. Refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and microwave– all stainless– gleam brightly amid wooden cabinetry and a dark iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The storage space under the stairs has been converted into a pantry, one of the more constructive uses for such space we've seen recently. 

While the room adjoining the kitchen has yielded ground, it's still of a comfortable size. While it's currently used as a study, a chair rail and elegant French doors connecting to the kitchen suggest that it may have once been a dining room. Returning it to its original purpose would require no effort beyond moving in the furniture.

On the second floor, the master bedroom claims the lion's share of the floor plan. With two large windows and a vaulted ceiling, it feels open and spacious. Its walk-in closet has the third front window, providing welcome well-lit storage space. 

And there's more in the master bath's roomy linen closet. The closet itself may be overlooked due to other, more attention-grabbing features of the bathroom like the jetted tub, the dual sinks, or the vaulted ceiling that shares its slope with the master bedroom. 

The second upstairs bedroom, while not as large as the master, benefits from having two front windows. Unfortunately, it contains the pull-down attic access. 

Since all the front windows are claimed, the home's second full bath gets natural light only from a skylight. A closet off the upstairs hallway houses the washer and dryer; it's right next to the space over the garage.

The builders abandoned the colonial theme when they got to the  garage. The ceiling is even with the first floor, but the floor is markedly lower, requiring a special staircase to access the kitchen. It fits two cars and also offers unfinished storage space. 

The room above the garage seamlessly joins to the rest of the house, providing storage even if access is slightly cramped by the sloping ceiling. Fortunately, having to work in the space hunched over is mitigated by a large arched window at one end of the room that lets in a lot of light. 

The symmetrical, more colonial design returns in the remaining two upstairs bedrooms at the back of the house. Both have windows overlooking the back yard, and enough room for beds but not much other furniture. These two rooms have ceiling fans, like several other rooms in the house, though probably slightly different from the ceiling fans colonists enjoyed.

The nice front porch is one of three outdoor recreation options. Out front, one has plenty of covered space for sitting and looking over the sloping front lawn, while the deck behind the house and its adjoining slate patio are a little smaller. As with most lots in Lake Monticello, the neighboring houses are nearby and visible. 

With its clean, regulated exterior and sensible internal design, this house offers an efficient blending of old styles and new concepts. It's also a good reminder that one can capture the appeal of the past without completely abandoning the present.