REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Architect's dream: Putting flare in a compact affair


ADDRESS: 208 6th Street NW


ASKING: $409,000

ASSESSMENT: $401,200


SIZE: 1,568 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.057 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7.5 out of 10

LISTED BY: Mary P. Newton, Keller Williams Realty, 434-220-2233

Just like you don't try to order quiche lorraine at the Aberdeen Barn, you don't look for sprawling farmsteads inside Charlottesville's city limits. Most houses in town don't get much area to spread across, and the ones tucked behind the Starr Hill brewery are no exception. By necessity, they aren't valued by how much space they have, but by how their space is used.

The house, featured in an early On the Block column ["Starr-y, Starr-y Hill: Grab a piece of the 'ville,' December 5, 2002], has retained the positives that we previously noted, including the "architectural sleight of hand" at work on the second floor. We're still impressed with the architect's choices that make the most of the space available, starting in the front hall. A wall has been removed, leaving decorative arches and making the living room into an open reception area that welcomes visitors. 

The dining room is a standard size, and while the kitchen isn't huge, it uses space efficiently with an array of cabinets and counters along three walls. The stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator date from different years: the first two are white and blend in with the counters, while the third, stainless steel, has been purchased more recently. 

Out of both sight and mind are the washer, dryer, and water heater all in an adjoining utility room that's large enough to provide some additional storage space. The gas heating system is also housed there; the air conditioning system is in the attic. It's no big deal that the extra cooling power cost storage space, since the attic access is tricky, making that area inconvenient anyway. 

The downstairs bathroom feels a little enclosed at the end of the hallway in the center of the house. It has a shower, but not enough room for a tub. Due to its location, some ceiling is lost to the stairs, but it's the area above the toilet, so who cares? 

The idea of getting more from less is most evident upstairs. At the back of the house, a suite with living space, private study, and sleeping loft has been created in a compact area. Currently a nursery, the corner study has a glass door for privacy and two design windows that are part of the vertical line of three visible from the front. The main area gets extra space from a vaulted ceiling arcing over the study's ceiling to provide a loft. None of these rooms is especially large, but the entire arrangement uses just a little bit of the second floor to create a whimsical whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The ceilings in the rest of the second floor are a standard eight feet, but extra features like a wall cutout on the landing show where the design was improve to create more space. While the closets in two of the upstairs bedrooms are a standard size with ordinary doors, a smaller closet in the corner of a front bedroom has no door to hide its built-in shelves. Another interesting feature is an interior window in the middle bedroom. It's a little too small and too high to provide a view to the adjoining nursery, but it lets welcome extra light into the room shadowed by the neighboring house.  

It's bad enough that the bedroom windows along the side of the house don't get much light, but the bathroom on the opposite side doesn't have any windows at all. But even windowless, it has one distinction: the house's only bathtub. 

The private fenced yard behind the house won't accommodate an in-ground pool, but is nevertheless large enough for a sandbox, an herb garden, or a close-quarters game of catch. The back deck could hold some recreational furniture and possibly a small grill for quiet summer evenings. 

Throughout the house, space is economized and rarely wasted. It's a fine place for someone prepared to live in the city, but folks with expansive outside interests are advised to seek greener pastures.

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Photos by Peter M.J. Gross