REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- The skinny: Making changes without changing much


ADDRESS: 7714 Secretary's Sand Road


ASKING: $389,000

ASSESSMENT: $305,200


SIZE: 1,902 fin. sq. ft., 576 unfin.

LAND: 5.135 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7.5 out of 10

LISTED BY: Harrison Grubbs, Summit Realty Company, 434-817-4040

Whether this week's house is one room wide or one room deep is a matter of perspective. The front door is on the broad side of the house, and when the owners added on to the two-over-two farmhouse, they maintained the same orientation. The addition has windows on opposite walls of each room, but it provides space for a brand-new kitchen and a master suite upstairs. Since almost every room has two (and in some cases, three) exterior walls, regularly placed windows provide plenty of natural light without energy worries: the owner asserts that new insulation added during the renovation prevents excessive heat loss. 

From the porch, the front door opens onto a clean and uncluttered post-renovation dining room. A small living room lies to one side opposite stairs leading to the rest of the house. An exposed-beam ceiling in the living room is a nice decorative touch, and two square accent windows complement existing rectangular ones. 

Down a short flight of stairs, the kitchen is all new in more ways than one: brand new appliances and oversized windows and a window behind the sink that's cantilevered outward to make a wide shelf and catch more sunlight. The granite countertops are also new, and we were happy to see a sensible amount of cabinet space included in the room's design. A modest half bath off the kitchen provides an elegantly understated area for washing up before meals. 

The house has a full but unfinished basement with a washer and dryer as well as utilities. We're willing to overlook the irregularities in the poured concrete floor in an neighborhood notorious for crawlspaces. 

The new master bedroom over the kitchen has matching his-and-hers closets with louvered doors and a cathedral ceiling that makes the space feel more open than the rest of the house. An unusual diamond-shaped accent window up high brightens the back wall while the windows in the opposing walls provide views to greenery beyond.

The opposing windows in the second upstairs bedroom catch both morning and afternoon sunlight, but the room has only a single louvered closet. The final bedroom has given some of its floor space to a cutout from the stairs, but it isn't a total loss, as the altered dimensions create a nook for a desk that makes the room ideal for an office.  

The two upstairs bathrooms are comparable, but the one in the new master suite completely overshadows the original down the hall (with a fiberglass tub– will they never learn?) which feels narrow with small mosaic tiles and grout that may pose a challenge to homeowners who crave sparkling white floors. The new master bath, on the other hand, has ample counter space by the sink, a waterfall shower head, and a tiled shower stall large enough to accommodate an additional bench.

If new owners decide to add more rooms beyond the existing enlargements, they'll have plenty of space to do it. The property's five acres can accommodate a little expansion, although coming up with plans to fit the rolling contours of the parcel could pose a challenge. They may also run into problems matching the exterior finish of the original horizontal siding, which the current owners tried to work around by using vertical Hardiplank.  

The old design with the new addition is an interesting study in alignment– the house has almost doubled in size without radically altering the original one-room-wide layout, kind of like the challenge of rearranging coins in a limited number of moves. 

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