REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Comes naturally: Room groupings seem to flow


ADDRESS: 706 Murray Lane


ASKING: $819,000

ASSESSMENT: $756,300


SIZE: 3,500 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 3.83 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8.5 out of 10

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

"Have it your way" is Burger King's catch-phrasem but buying a house usually means having it someone else's way and then figuring out how to make it your way with as little effort as possible. And that's a difficult task in subdivisions, where one specific way applies to every house in the development.

Luckily, this week's house has been crafted from its earliest moments by an owner who has spent the past two years perfecting it to sell. The result has some striking fixtures– the main staircase– and some unusual features– the garage.

From the inside, the garage is as glamorous as one would expect an unfinished storage room to be. While the walls await drywall, it's the outside that deserves comment. Since cars enter by circling behind the house, a façade of narrow, elegant windows has been added to disguise what would be an otherwise utilitarian addition. 

The windows in the house are both prominent and decorative. Three oversized Palladian models in a study at the front of the house command a view of the drive, while two sets of French doors at the entrance and six additional windows (stretching to the second floor) at the back let light into the main living space. 

The light plays across an open set of interconnected but distinct spaces, with the foyer, dining room, and a living room all sharing the center of the house. Pillars and a standard ceiling mark off the dining room just to the right of the foyer, which is itself defined by the large staircase coming down from upstairs. In the remaining area, the vaulted ceiling rises to the second-floor, creating an open area with a fireplace that can be used as an easily accessible living room. 

In the kitchen, an elevated breakfast bar curves around a sunken cooktop, while two ovens, a double sink, and a large refrigerator (all stainless steel) line the walls. Granite counters are everywhere including atop the bar, but some by the door could seem inconvenient, far away from both the sink and the stove. The microwave is in a large walk-in pantry, possibly to conserve counter space, but probably to keep the pantry from feeling empty.

An open space adjoining the kitchen is large enough for a table, and connects to a keeping room at the far end of the house. The room's vaulted ceiling and large, curving windows make it an inviting space for relaxing, and it's heated with a gas fireplace. 

In the master suite across the house from the kitchen, the bedroom claims a generous portion of floor space, and the tray ceiling overhead opens the space upwards. Visitors may notice the room's apparent lack of a closet; it's accessed through the bathroom, but it's almost big enough to be another bedroom, with built-in dresser drawers and enough cubby holes for 25 pairs of shoes. While it's a bit of a hike from pajamas to bed, it's a lot of extra storage space. 

The bathroom that completes the suite has a vaulted ceiling and more Palladian windows. The large tiled space has two sinks on opposite sides of the room and a built-in vanity, spreading away from the whirlpool tub that serves as the room's focal point. The WC is behind a door, and glass bricks set into the tiled shower spread natural light throughout the room.  

Functional rooms are tucked away off the hallways between these areas. A small bathroom and a large water heater have their own spaces between the kitchen and living areas, while the washer and dryer hookups are in a laundry room on the way to the master suite. 

The second bedroom, upstairs off a balcony overlooking the living area, makes a miniature suite of its own, with a closet and private bathroom. Also upstairs are the third and fourth bedrooms, which share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. Since the shared bathroom contains only a shower and WC, each of the two linked bedrooms has its own sink, set apart in alcoves. 

The house also has outdoor spaces for relaxing: patios in the front and out back. Although the front of the house has an unobstructed view of a flat lawn, a line of trees begin almost exactly where the rear patio ends. 

Taken as a whole, the house has been well designed, with rooms logically grouped into natural clusters that feel roomy and open. Since it's still waiting for its first occupants, it can also be rearranged pretty easily. 

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!