REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Did-it-themselves: In Belmont, couple redoes a cottage


Address: 1116 Montrose Ave.

Neighborhood: Belmont

Asking: $308,000

Assessment: $299,800

Year Built: 1947

Size: 1,374 fin. sq. ft. / 916 unfin. sq. ft.

Land: 0.267 acres

Agent: Owner Scott Wiley  434-760-2671

Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10

Christina and Scott Wiley don't spend all their time at their day jobs. (Nice life, huh?) That's because their secondary passion has been fixing up this house. The two Habitat Store junkies scored a beautiful Viking range there, as well as a wooden hot tub for the deck, which they fabricated themselves. 

Made of ipe (pronounced "ee-pay")— a tropical hardwood that weathers well— and situated just outside the kitchen, the deck is perfect for morning brunches. The corner lot— surprisingly spacious for close-in Belmont— is high off the street, adjoins both Montrose and Monticello Avenues, and overlooks Carter Mountain in the distance.

When the Wileys bought the house (for $161,600 in 2002), it was listed as 1400 Monticello Avenue. But since they lived on the odd-numbered side of the street and the rest of the 1400s were several blocks away, the owners decided to reorient the house. They turned the old entrance into a screened-in porch, put in a gravel drive leading to a single-car garage (currently converted into a workshop), and had the place renamed 1116 Montrose. Otherwise, they worried, out-of-towners would never find them. 

They couldn't do much with the faux stone exterior, but thoughtful touches are evident inside, starting with the paint. A sunny yellow in the living and dining rooms brightens up the house, nicely complementing the oak floor and stained glass panels in the dining room, which also has a white built-in china hutch. 

In the kitchen (painted mushroom with white trim), a large, energy-efficient window overlooks the yard. The industrial-looking Viking range dominates, but standard modern goodies are also evident: shiny black granite countertops and other stainless steel appliances (installed in 2008).

The first of three bedrooms (in bold burgundy), just off the kitchen, currently serves as a study— the Wileys removed the door for extra space and installed a huge desk that conveys. 

Solid mahogany doors in the kitchen hallway lead to the full bathroom, which is tasteful enough, but curiously located on the main level. Imagine smelling beef stew while you're sudsing up, then trudging upstairs wrapped in a towel to dress for dinner. What was the architect thinking?

The basement (which houses a half bath) covers the full footprint of the house, and an ambitious buyer could renovate part of it to add more living space. The laundry room is located here, and there's plenty of storage space with built-in shelves raised off the floor.

For energy efficiency (the house was built in the ‘40s, after all) the owners installed a tankless hot water heater and hooked up a humidifier to the furnace. Humid air feels warmer, the Wileys claim, meaning the thermostat can be set lower than usual and the house still feel comfortable. 

The basement half bath is piped for a shower—all it needs is hardware. But with whitewashed brick walls and not much room, it's more functional than comfortable. It seems designed more for emergencies than for guests or a mother-in-law. 

The final two bedrooms upstairs, like most in houses built during the first half of the twentieth century, are comfortable but not spacious. So the owners removed doors from a closet in their bedroom, and that alcove is now the bed's headspace. 

Maybe tinkering with this nicely renovated house had become boring, since the owners have moved on to their next project, a house on Rose Hill Avenue. After selling the house on Montrose, the couple plan to buy a third house, live in it while they renovate Rose Hill, then fix it up later. Seems like a tough market for flipping houses, but at least it keeps this energetic couple out of the office. 




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