REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Forward-thinking: Hanging on to a good investment


ADDRESS: 12248 Spicers Mill Road


ASKING: $725,000

ASSESSMENT: $487,400


SIZE: 1,900 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 22 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Owner, Carey Farmer, ERA The Holden Group, 540-661-0068

Buying stock in Coca Cola when it was first issued would have been nice; on the other hand, hoarding Beanie Babies would not have provided as dramatic a payoff. And Slap Wrap bracelets are almost completely worthless. That friend of yours who accidentally threw out his first-edition Spider Man comic when he outgrew it would be the first to admit that you can't tell which decisions will haunt you and which ones will pay off. Whether by skill or by luck, this week's house has some features that have been vindicated by time's passage.

It's true that right inside the front door visitors are greeted with a chandelier that looks like it came from the set of Thunderball, straight out of the 1960s, but most of the design choices from the original construction are more subtle. The wide brick fireplace in the living room, for example, flanked by built-in shelves and storage space, adds a grounding presence without overpowering the room. Windows on either side of the chimney provide lots of light.

The rest of the living room space is separated from the foyer by a screen of columns above a block of cabinets. Oddly, the cabinets are topped by shallow gravel trays instead of countertop. Why? Maybe it was a good way to display houseplants and not have to worry about water damage to the cabinets. Anyway, it would be easy to deep-six them and hop aboard today's decorating bandwagon with concrete or granite.

The kitchen, just through an archway off the foyer, was redone in 2004 with a new stove, Bosch dishwasher, under-cabinet microwave, and over-and-under refrigerator (with a handy bottom freezer)– all stainless. But the makeover added Silestone quartz countertops (maybe they could also top those living room cabinets) and bracketed the refrigerator with cabinets to make it a display piece. Buyers may want to place a table in the room's open space, both to enjoy the views out the picture window and to avoid taking useable space from the living room.

Unfortunately, the bathroom off the kitchen doesn't showcase the best of '60s sensibilities: the brown and yellow color scheme is dated, and its gloom is unbroken by any window. While the space is too narrow to hold a tub, it has a shower– with a welcome tile surround instead of on of those single-piece fiberglass atrocities we so regularly savage. A second bathroom on this level has better withstood the changing tides of fashion. It's roomier, with a full tub and enough counter space to add a second sink, and it's finished in a blue and white tile that has survived the years to retain a clean, crisp contrast. 

All three bedrooms have serene views and Hunter Douglas blinds. They also have roomy (louver-door) closets– the master bedroom has two– and they're actually useful since they were built before contractors started applying the term to spaces too shallow to accommodate even a clothes hanger. 

The house has some other elements missing from most properties today. Off the kitchen is a two-thirds basement that provides extra storage along with a place for the oil heater, pressure tank, forced-air system, and washer and dryer. The attached garage can fit at least one full-sized car and also has a full, fixed stairway leading up to the attic. Storage space in the attic is limited, but it runs the length of the house and offers well-lit, standing-room access to the ceiling fixtures.

Like the home itself, the grounds have some good points. Older trees have matured to create a canopy that shades the home, while their spacing and judicious pruning have kept the yard open. A concrete patio behind the house makes a nice spot to relax, and the remaining 22 acres accommodate two horse paddocks, a pole barn, stalls, and a shed wired for electricity. 

Considering the parcel and the neighborhood, the house is surprisingly humble, and would have been easy to bulldoze in favor of something more upscale. Holding on to it may turn out to have been a sharp choice. 


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