REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Exception to the rule: Ivy contemporary defies ho-hum mold

ADDRESS: 2580 Andrew Lane


ASKING: $659,900

ASSESSMENT: $419,400 (2005)


SIZE: 2,701 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 2.0 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Robin Romer  Real Estate III  984-7482

Tolstoy famously said "All happy families are alike," and the same can usually be said of gray cedar-sided contemporary houses in monotonous subdivisions.

This house in Lewis Hills designed by Grigg, Wood, and Browne 30 years ago is a happy exception to that rule. While it may resemble any number of modern, sharp-angled, rangy boxes on spiritless shady streets, many unusual details keep it from being just another variation on an over-worked design.

The first of many unique elements is the front door. Instead of a typical wood panel– with or without window detail– this hard wood door is crossed by overlaid diagonal strips and divided by a five-foot-high narrow pane of glass. While the union of warm brown wood, sparkling glass, and rough, pale gray cedar siding might sound like a marriage made in hell, in fact the blending of unusual textures and colors piques a visitor's interest in stepping through the front door.

The foyer beyond the door is just as titillating, with a window seat, and open stairs leading up to the bedroom level. Three steps on the right lead down to the main living area, a large room divided by a double-faced gas fireplace into formal living space and an informal "family room." Beyond that large room, a newly tricked-out kitchen gleams in bright sunlight from walls of French doors. And beyond the kitchen, a door identical to the entrance door leads to a carport designed to look like a stable, with large storage bays fully outfitted with electricity.

Down a few stairs directly in front of the foyer is an extra room the current owner uses as a mini-gym, but with its great views of leafy tranquility and busy bird feeders, it's easy to imagine someone sitting here penning next year's episodes of Desperate Housewives.

Each element deserves its own description. The fireplace dividing the living spaces has a brick surround, with a raised hearth and no mantel. In the "formal" room, large brown timbers add visual interest and provide contrast to the white walls. New Andersen French doors open to a large deck and the flat private back yard. On the informal side of the room, original sliding windows do not seem out of place although they're not as big or as elegant as the new ones across the way.

The brand new kitchen has cork floor, granite counters, new Kitchen Aid fridge, and the most elegant futuristic range hood we've seen. Cherry cabinets have glass fronts, multiplying the elegance, and sophisticated faucets complement the space-age range fixture. There's a neat little wet bar (tiny sink) tucked into the wall dividing the living space; on the other side is a cabinet for sound equipment, complete with shelves for CDs, etc. No space is wasted. Beyond the kitchen, a room originally designed as a dark room for an earlier photographer owner has been converted to storage (although all the plumbing is still in place, and it's  still really really dark in there), and there's a half bath with washer/dryer (which do not convey) across the hall.

A dining area at the far end of the living room also has French doors to the deck, and a pass-through window to the kitchen. It's not a large space, but in warm weather, opening the doors to the pergola-covered deck could double its size and create the prospect of dual-experience dining, with guests at one end of the table in the house and those at the other end under the stars. 

Back in the foyer, to the left of the front door is a bedroom wing that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Quality materials that were probably standard issue in 1976 but that now seem luxurious characterize most elements of the house– the doors that separate the two-bedroom wing from the foyer are beautiful hard wood, as are closet doors. Large sliding windows permit views of the landscaped yard. The full bath has  a ceramic tile floor and shower, and a marble counter. 

 Upstairs are two more bedrooms, one with an interesting set of corner windows– at floor-level. While their purpose is a bit hazy, there's no doubt that they add interest and light to the space. Both bedrooms on this level have private balconies. The full bath up here has a neat skinny skylight in the middle of the room and tile everywhere, always the way to our heart.

The roofs on the house and on a little garden shed (also with skylights) are new; there's a spacious attic with pull-down stairs for storage; the cedar siding was just stained this year; and the large lot is very private. So while some jaded house-hunters might pass over the house because of its many familiar elements, careful shoppers who take the time to look beyond the "happy family" aspects will be rewarded.