REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Fall-ing in love: Country hideaway a colorful eyeful

ADDRESS: 9225 Howardsville Turnpike


ASKING: $655,000



SIZE: 2,560 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 29.23 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Toby Beavers of Virginia Estates 979-0005

Maybe the rose-tinted glasses have something to do with it. Or maybe it's that this reporter has been away for the last year– either way, the colors seem especially spectacular this fall. 

At a time when most hotels and inns can tack on an extra $20 just for the lack of photosynthesis, all Albemarle County residents have to do for a glimpse of sights others have to drive hundreds of miles to see is just hop in the car and motor to the grocery store.

So the opportunity to go a little farther into the woods and view the colors from someone else's deck struck us as a pleasant way to spend a morning. And this particular journey did not disappoint.

Middle of nowhere for some and center of paradise for others, Howardsville offers little in the way of modern amenities. The "town" exists only in the mind of its inhabitants. Most of the houses are indicated by gravel turn-offs, rural counterpoints of the asphalt-hugging homes of their urban freres.

Even deeper into the woods we bounce before coming upon this private– and to put it mildly– majestic swath of countryside. The house does not immediately register as a reason for getting away from it all. It sits atop a knoll as a plain rectangular box. But let's be realistic: nobody is out here to impress the neighbors. Come to think of it, it's a refreshing pause from the current invasion of real estate juggernauts.

A deep wraparound porch could easily host huge Martha Stewart-style soirees, but the inside has an organic feel, kind of like a really warm tree house. And the house really is above it all, with a bird's eye view of everything.

Inside, a wide hallway opens into a great room. Creating a dwelling that fits the land seems to have been a paramount concern here. Salvaged wood and local materials like heart pine, cherry, and soapstone have been used for doors, trim, cabinets, and floors. 

Two huge bedrooms to the left are a surprise: the house is much larger than it appears. A brand spanking new kitchen with stainless appliances abuts the main space. The living area with wood stove and finely appointed décor (the house comes furnished) has all the trappings of a glossy Smith & Hawken catalogue. Low-energy Pella windows and doors take precedence over built-ins and provide almost 360-degree outdoor views.

At the far end (and the first thing the agent wanted to show off) is the master bedroom. Snow could trap you for days up here, but with this bedroom to retreat to, who would mind? Luxurious yet cozy, the room has it all without trying too hard. 

Even the bathroom with its heated tile floors and exposed beams seems like a good place to spend a couple of hours. French doors lead to the widest part of the deck. A large goldfish pond/ water garden installed beyond the deck reflects the trees– and, one would imagine, an uninterrupted twinkling night sky.

A first floor basement with laundry facility could fit a pool table, entertainment unit, and that old Barcalounger unsuitable for upstairs. Zoning for an in-home business increases the potential use, but what exactly does that mean? No high-speed Internet access or DSL limits the possibilities in this high-tech age, but maybe that's what people are moving here to escape.

The land stretches out in Montana proportions. As we walked down the garden path, expecting little more than a trickle, we were taken aback by 3,000 feet of Green Creek frontage that provides an almost-river with deep eddies and constant flow. 

It's sublimely easy to lose track of time here, walking and looking at the kaleidoscope of fall color. It would have been so sweet to return to the house to find a toasty fire, some hot soup, and a fridge full of delicious cider.

Photos courtesy of the agent