REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Glorious excess: How much is too much?


ADDRESS: 380 Ballenger Lane


ASKING: $749,000

ASSESSMENT: $629,100


SIZE: 5,000 fin. sq. ft., 453 unfin.

LAND: 10 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Sally Neill, Pace Real Estate Associates, 434-817-7223

Mae West once famously said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." We were reminded of that phrase this week when we viewed a house with both a pond and a decorative fountain, a swimming pool and a pool table, and a porch that wraps around not just two or three, but all four sides of the house.

From the outside, the slope of the roof looks like it has taken too much headroom from the second floor. But the optical illusion is dispelled inside, as visitors see that a vaulted ceiling high above follows the contours of the roof around massive second-floor windows in the front and rear of the house, keeping the entryway and living room well-lighted (and this column has never criticized a home for having too much light).  

A sitting room in the corner of the first floor has traditional windows along its two exterior walls, while a bay window in the adjoining dining room makes both rooms feel open and spacious. An additional bay window in the kitchen allows room for a table. 

Above the kitchen island is a hanging rack for pans, and while we would like to have seen more counter space, the sink and inset cooktop try to work alongside what's available. Generous cabinets provide lots of storage options, and there's a washer and dryer in an adjoining mudroom. Detailing in the hardwood floor around the kitchen island adds a decorative flourish. 

All through the house, metal wall sconces light up white walls to create a clean look that contrasts with the dark cherry hardwood floors. A striking antique chestnut mantel around the gas fireplace in the living room was rescued from an old barn. 

The master suite is carpeted and slightly more private as the few windows are shaded. His and hers walk-in closets flank the hallway leading to the master bath, which has double sinks, an elegant wooden linen closet, and a built-in vanity. Although there's no tub, the shower has "his and hers" heads. 

The owners have strategically placed furniture to create a secluded space outside the master bedroom's French doors. It's especially effective because the porch– which is almost a boardwalk, wrapping around the whole house– provides a deck that looks out over the pool behind the house.

Two identical bedrooms face each other on the second floor, each providing more room than their Cape Cod windows would suggest. Both have generous amounts of closet space, but one connects directly to the upstairs bathroom, while the other does not. Rather than a straight line connecting the two sides of the house, the edge of the balcony between the two bedrooms is marked by a graceful curve that adds definition to the space. 

Downstairs, one can choose between two areas to use as office space, or between two bathrooms to change into a swimsuit. A downstairs bedroom provides guests with direct access to the pool, and two unfinished storage rooms— one of which contains the utilities– provide extra space that will come in handy for families with too much stuff. A pool table in the central downstairs space would work well for entertaining guests, especially considering a nearby wet bar. 

The patio outside offers several opportunities for recreation. Homeowners can swim, enjoy the hot tub, or watch the carp swimming in the peaceful alcove under the house that's fed by a rocky fountain. Alternatively, one can sit out on the gazebo, cooled by the overhead fan while admiring the panoramic views framed by wide windows. In addition to the fan, the gazebo offers overhead lights on dimmer switches for evening soirees.

The two-story detached garage has a high ceiling and space for three cars. A three-room apartment above the cars has its own water heater and heating system, a kitchen/living space, bedroom, and private WC with shower. Since it's probably tough to find renters looking for three rooms way out in Palmyra, the secluded space would also work well for parents or in-laws (and when it comes to in-laws, there's no such thing as too much distance). In fact, previous residents of the space appear to have been elderly, since a motorized chair lift is still attached to the stairs.

While it may look like there's too much grass to mow, the owner says the landscaping requires minimal upkeep. One hopes new owners won't find the occasional hedge-trimming to be too much work. With ten acres, four structures, and three stories, it's almost too much home to write about.


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