Ramble on: Size doesn't matter on Cherry

 ASKING: $159,900

SIZE: 1252 fin. / 781 unfin. sq. ft.

YEAR BUILT: 1949

ADDRESS: 1418 Cherry Avenue

NEIGHBORHOOD: Johnson Village-ish

CURB APPEAL: 5 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Patrick Punch of Montague Miller and Co. 293-3079

What the City of Charlottesville lacks in grand old homes with stained-glass windows and parquet floors (think circa 1900s Richmond) it makes up for with cute 1950s ramblers.

Neither opulent nor even very pretty, they represent a post-war ethos of functionality and service. And now that the current fashion in homebuilding stresses grandeur and wasted space once again, viewing one of these small, sensible Cape Cod ramblers is a refreshing treat.

Its location on a corner lot surrounded by an extra-wide swath of grass lends this small house a slightly regal air. Nothing grand, the entrance opens up to a spacious living room sparsely but appealingly decorated, connected on the left side to a semi-formal dining area that leads to the kitchen and to another casual eating spot.

The kitchen, although small, has a stylized New York City loft feel. With exposed cabinets, chrome detailing, and a cork floor (to cushion the feet of the gourmand), it epitomizes the adage, "the difference is in the details." It seemed to be a regular kitchen until we were asked, "Do you notice anything different?" Challenged by the question, we looked curiously around but saw nothing unusual.

It turns out that the uncluttered feel is a result of the absence of a behemoth refrigerator. A small, under-the-counter variety (very common in Europe) is supposed to suffice for urban living, while a larger model in the basement keeps frozen and bulk items.

The partly finished basement has storage galore plus an extra living room-sized space where the current owners' 20-month-old son, Sam, happily rides his bike. A door to the back yard leads to a cement patio and a two-car off-street parking area.

Recent landscape installations include a row of nandinas that will provide eye-candy with their drooping plumes of fiery-red berries in the early wintertime. Beyond them at the edge of the property is a row of wax myrtles that in three or four years will top out at 15 feet and provide a privacy screen.

Back inside, to the right of the front door, a television room, a bedroom, and the only full bath round out the downstairs. In what is technically the attic, behind a door and up a painted white stairwell, the top floor has been fully refurbished into a living space with master bedroom and two smaller spaces (one for Sam). This could almost be considered a separate apartment.

A closet located directly above the main plumbing could easily convert to a bathroom. Before deciding to move, the current owners had a professional estimate done and found that a full bath could be added there for $2,000. Sounds doable, but we wish they'd done it.

Recent renovations include new plumbing, wiring, central air, a dehumidifier, and an air purifier that runs independently of cooling and heating units. The entire interior has been freshly painted in natural hues that add sparkle to an otherwise plain little place.

This is a loved home, one that just no longer fits the current owners' expanding family. The neighborhood is centrally located between downtown and the University, and if the city ever gets around to finishing the sidewalks, it could be a lovely pedestrian thoroughfare.

Even so, as we stood on the front lawn, surveying the lay of the land, the owner was able to identify and give a brief description of all the occupants within a stone's throw from his own house. Truly, a place to call home.