REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Let there be... Contemporary gem sparkles in the sun

PHOTOS Courtesy of the agent

ADDRESS: 3645 Brinnington Road



ASKING: $599,900
ASSESSMENT: $582,200

SIZE: 2,444 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 3.22 acres
CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10
LISTED BY: Alice Nye Fitch of Montague, Miller & Co. 981-4562

The run of gray days last week reminded us all how important light is to our moods and well-being. This house off Ridge Road near Free Union would have been a good place to spend those days– and will probably be good in the coming bleak days of mid-winter, too– because its defining feature is the light that fills every room.

The house was designed as a spec house in 1980 by the architectural team of Peter Sheeran and Sam Cleveland, who also designed and built three other houses on the same road. (One of them, known as the "glass house," is something of a landmark in the area, with mirrored surfaces that reflect the surrounding countryside as well as passersby.) The current owners of this cedar-shake-roof contemporary have been the only occupants, and they speak enthusiastically about the design elements that have made them happy since the beginning.

A front door of solid mahogany, with a brass kick-plate, makes an impressive entrance to the unexpectedly bright interior. Steps lead down to the living room, divided from the dining room in the front of the house by a double-faced (wood-burning) fireplace. The living room, like all the other rooms across the back, is drenched with light.

 But light by itself, of course, is not enough to make a place lovely– it's what reflects the light and what the light illumines that multiply the beauty and one's enjoyment of the sunshine. Here, blond oak floors and recently refinished oak cabinets benefit from skylights and walls of windows in the kitchen and sliding glass doors in the dining and living rooms. Rays from clerestory windows primarily designed to brighten the second level also work their magic in rooms two stories below.

The master wing on the first level includes an unexpectedly light-filled and pleasing room: the master bath, designed by the same architectural team and added in 1993. The tiled room's vaulted ceiling has an extra large skylight, and sliding windows over the sink mirror those in the kitchen. An oversized, fully tiled shower is separate from the Jacuzzi tub and w.c.

A roomy screened porch surrounded by trees and flowers– very private even though attached to the large deck stretching across the back of the house– seems like a separate room with ceiling fan and electrical connections for computer or TV. 

Upstairs, two identical bedrooms share a full bath (no tiled shower, alas, an inexplicable lapse– like the carpeted floors instead of hard wood– in an otherwise lovely space) off a loft/balcony under the clerestory windows. The bedrooms have ample closet space in addition to under-eaves storage that makes an attic unnecessary. (The large utility basement, however, with outside access, provides room for Christmas decorations and other seasonal flotsam.)

The house makes a striking impression thanks to the original graceful design, but also thanks in part to numerous recent renovations: a new Hardiplank exterior in 2005, a new oil burner (to back up a heat pump) in 2003 (the house has another heat pump for AC), and the new cedar shake roof in 2000. 

The landscaping– mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azaleas– is understated and traditional but suited to the site. It helps to buffer the front of the house, which is the least interesting aspect of the property. But  since no one really stands around looking at the front of a house except perhaps the mailman and traveling religious convert-seekers, it's not too big a problem: as soon as the pretty front door closes, the impression of the prosaic approach is eradicated by the sparkling beauty of the sunny space inside. 

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Photos courtesy of the agent