REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Distant: But Nelson house not out of touch

ADDRESS: 5310 Havenwood Lane

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Quarries, Schuyler

ASKING: $625,000

ASSESSMENT: $529,200


SIZE: 2,348 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 21 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Martha DeJarnette, Pace Real Estate Associates, 817-7223

It's always surprising to find a house with cutting-edge design in a remote location. One somehow expects creativity and novelty to migrate city-ward.

And many houses in the small Nelson County burg of Schuyler do show their farmhouse origins with narrow rooms and steep staircases. But this week's one-story house was intended from the beginning to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The house sits at the end of a long driveway on a site chosen for minimal disturbance to the parcel's 21 acres in The Quarries– a subdivision committed to sustainable, eco-friendly home-building practices and named for the soapstone quarries that made Schuyler world famous. The house also has DSL Internet access, an indoor pool, and a media room wired for surround sound. 

Interested buyers will have to appreciate contemporary architecture, visible in the wedge-shaped profile, sloped roof, and large windows. The form of the house has been dictated by its owner-comforting functions: the pitched ceiling's slope is oriented to take advantage of passive solar heat, and the floors are concrete to allow inset water pipes to distribute radiant heat. 

This means one side of the house has lots of windows and a high ceiling, while the roof comes down to create spaces of a more traditional height on the opposite side. Because the house is currently empty, echoes from the high ceiling and concrete floor make the space seem cavernous, but that should change when new owners move in with all their belongings.

The contrast between the window-studded front and low-ceiling back of the house is most noticeable in the main area that ties together kitchen, dining room, and living area. A stone fireplace salvaged from an 1800s tavern makes for a cozy sitting space across from the kitchen's high windows and modern appliances. The kitchen– with soapstone countertops, naturally– represents a compromise between the living area's intimacy and the dining area's modernity next to the front windows. 

In the master bedroom, the pitch of the roof has created an interesting effect where a window near the ceiling provides illumination but insures privacy. Below, dual closets that don't extend all the way to the ceiling– effectively, built-in wardrobes– support indirect lighting that makes for an unusually terraced visual design. A second bedroom next door is smaller, positioned along the back wall of the house with more traditional windows.  

Two rooms on the opposite side of the house were last used as offices, and took advantage of the data network wired into the house.

 They could just as easily serve as two additional bedrooms with the addition of a shower in the nearby half bath, which won't be hard since the owners added a shower connection to the WC and there's thus no need to run plumbing through the concrete floor.

Two full bathrooms are located back by the master bedroom: a master bath with a double vanity and ADA-compliant features like lowered countertops and an accessible shower stall. A row of recycled glass tiles near the top of the shower is a pretty decorative accent. Sitting between the pool and the rest of the house, the master bath and its neighboring guest bath provide places to change into swimsuits even as they provide the only interior access to the pool. 

The indoor "endless" pool is perhaps the most surprising feature here. While some conservationists might argue for a better use for so much water, its hydrotherapy jets and swim current allow exercisers to swim in place, using less space to provide the workout provided by laps in a larger pool. The room also has a Japanese-style soaking tub.

All this infrastructure means that unlike, say, converting a study to a bedroom, prospective buyers will need to make some serious changes if they want to redesign this room for another use. The media room— off the living area at the center of the house— has been built with the same single-minded purpose. Its surround sound, dark walls, and lone narrow window make it unsuitable for almost any other use.

A far cry from the typical houses out here, this place manages to stand out thanks to its contemporary designs and ideas. Its remote location makes it a good spot for people who want to get away from it all without leaving anything behind. 

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