REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Extras, extras: Read all about a Mill Creek special


ADDRESS: 452 Hidden Ridge


NEIGHBORHOOD: Mill Creek South

ASKING: $388,888



SIZE: 2,770 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.394 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Don Berard, owner, 923-0022

All buyers have priority lists: things they must have, things they'd like to have, and things they can do without. For some people, brand-spanking-new is the first and foremost requirement. No previous bather can have splashed soap scum on the shower tiles and no cook can have put onion peels down the disposal. For others, location matters: good school district, mountain views, walking distance to stores or businesses. 

Not many shoppers will hold out for a fully equipped darkroom, a climate-controlled wine cellar, or a backyard full of professional playground equipment– these things can be added. So sellers hoping those amenities alone will bring in buyers are probably dreaming.

This house in Mill Creek South will appeal to shoppers with the following items on their must-have list: low-traffic cul de sac, convenient location, one-floor layout, level backyard, family-room fireplace, garage, good school district. It will not appeal to people looking to have the most modern amenities, convenient access in bad weather, or unusual design.

The house is typical of those in a not-new subdivision in many respects: the three full bathrooms have those fiberglass showers; hardwood floors in the living room and dining area give way to wall-to-wall everywhere else; and every room has a ceiling fan– eight in all! The kitchen has a vinyl floor and laminate counters, and heat and AC are provided by a heat pump (but it's just three years old).

Several elements personally designed and added by the current owners set it apart, however. The owner is a photographer and artist, a Hook cartoonist, and a musician. These interests led him to add a large (21' x 16') studio with two skylights and attached darkroom (all darkroom equipment conveys), a space that may be unique in the subdivision. With its own separate deck and the possibility of a private entrance, this huge room could also become separate in-law or au pair quarters.

Other modifications recommend the house to shoppers looking for extras in a typical subdivision model. Changes have been made to rooms immediately inside the front door: to the right, a bedroom has been made from what was originally the second space of a two-car garage. The space on the left previously consisted of two small bedrooms, which the owners have changed into a second master bedroom with double closets and full bath. But they left the extra hall doorway to make re-conversion easy for a family that needs the extra bedroom.

In the actual master bedroom, more personalized elements distinguish the house. While a double-sink, whirlpool tub, and separate shower and WC in the master bath are of the ho-hum traditional variety, the surprises are a wall of Leyland Cypress trees and a fence that provide welcome privacy outside the big windows, and a super-sized dressing room beyond the bathroom proper that almost doubles the space. 

Back in the living room, skylights in the cathedral ceiling and a window-lined family room directly beyond alleviate the penumbra inevitable in a space smack in the middle of the house. A large kitchen with breakfast area and two pantries opens from the living room and leads to the garage and carport through another surprisingly large space– the laundry/mud room (washer/dryer convey) with huge utility sink. The extra-high ceiling in the kitchen creates an airy feeling complemented by large sliding-glass windows opening to a private deck off the breakfast area. Both decks feature retractable awnings and bird-feeders galore– the number and variety of feathered competitors for the millet seeds on the day we visited was a pleasant surprise, probably a result of the densely wooded common area beyond the flat backyard.

The owners admit that the addition of the huge studio has preempted use of the family room and its gas fireplace, but new residents may be happy to have it as it's centrally located adjoining the living room and easily accessible to the kitchen and decks for entertaining.

No doubt a few buyers find a dream house that meets their every requirement. More often, however, people find themselves making compromises and accepting trade-offs. This house offers interesting elements to offset the downsides of what might seem at first glance to be a run-of-the-Mill Creek yawner. And as an added incentive to people who may still be on the fence, the owner reports that the below-assessment asking price represents a much lower per-square-foot price than most recent sales in the area.


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!

[The printed version of this story contained the incorrect phone number; it has been corrected in this online edition–editor.]