REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Cabin living: Promised land holds affordable promise


Address: 2195 Promised Land Lane

Neighborhood: Biscuit Run (sort of)

Asking: $224,900

Year Built: 1984

Assessment: $267,300 

Size: 2,494 fin. sq. ft./144 unfin.

Land: 2 acres

Curb Appeal: 6 out of 10

Agent: David Sloan, Sloan Milby Real Estate Partners, 220-5656

First off, don't try to get to Promised Land Lane on your own. I tried. Hard. After half an hour, I finally started turning down unmarked roads and finally found homeowner Larry Ryalls patiently waiting for me at the bottom of his gravel driveway, which is edged in chunky quartz rock. I apologized, telling Ryalls that I just couldn't find the street sign. 

"That sign disappears every year," Ryalls tells me, "just around August when the UVA students move in." And not because the University of Virginia student body are Zionists. Ryalls suspects some students have a penchant for what else the promise implies. "And I can't blame them," he says.

Ryalls, who is an electrician by trade, built this log cabin simply because he "always wanted one." It's a perfect design for this secluded spot off of Old Lynchburg Road, minutes away from Walnut Creek, the county's popular hiking/biking/swimming spot. The lot boasts a nice clearing in the front and back of the house, with healthy azaleas and redbud trees providing color in spring. In spite of that, the log cabin does feel like a pioneer outpost. It's almost enveloped by woods, with Biscuit Run, the waterway, just 150 feet away. (Biscuit Run, the 1,400-house planned mega-development is a mile and half away.)

While providing shade for the house– and therefore cutting down on cooling bills– the trees also darken the interior of the house. With the dark wood of exposed logs lining the walls, it looks like you'd have to switch on a lamp to read in the living room, even during the day. There's a massive, varnished stone, wood-burning fireplace, which Ryalls built himself out of local stone, that dominates the room, turning the living space into a man-lair. That's just one of the charming and eccentric details of this house.

A 9x4 true divided light window (Ryalls found it at an auction) faces the driveway, and the main floor of the house is efficiently and economically heated by a wood burning stove in the basement. Ryalls installed vents leading up to the main floor, so the rising heat dissipates throughout the house. 

The kitchen– with dark oak cabinetry and a half bath off to the side– could use an upgrade. Its linoleum floors and the dark brown carpet in the living room aren't doing the house any favors. But the four-foot-wide oak staircase is impressive. (The frame of this house is all done in oak, which Ryalls chose because it's three times stronger than the cheaper option, pine.)

The staircase leads up to three bedrooms with slanted ceilings. Two are quite small; one would be a perfect nursery. But the master bedroom is a stunner. It's the sunniest room in the house with loads of windows and knotty pine floors. The boarded-up skylight in the ceiling is a little awkward, though. Ryalls intended to install skylights, and had them piled up on the edge of his lawn when his children broke all three while playing. Oops. That doesn't prevent you from having skylights installed, which would be a welcome addition to 2195 Promised Lane. That and central air. This log cabin currently runs on window units. 

The basement contains storage space, a small bedroom, and a den. It's dark, but with some work could be a private space for guests, with a separate entrance of sliding glass doors leading out to a small stone patio. Outside, there's also a balcony off of the kitchen with a staircase leading down to the yard and a storage shed, which Ryalls said he's willing to knock down at the buyer's preference. 

2195 Promised Land Lane was nearly auctioned off on September 24. Ryalls staved off the foreclosure, and the house is still on the market with several offers, according to the realtor. This log cabin could use some updating to take it into the 21st century. But as a detached house close to town on two acres of grass and woodland for under $225,000, it's worth the work. 



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