Tanked house: Prescient building in Kluge-ville

ASKING: $389,000

SIZE: 2240 square feet

ADDRESS: 3888 Rolling Road

NEIGHBORHHOD: Green Mountain District

CURB APPEAL: 6 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Jim McVay of Roy Wheeler Realty Co. 434-951-5122

The initial draw for this house comes from the well-written blurb that accompanies it in Home Search. The usual listing of architectural attributes contains one really unusual item: a 2,500-gallon water storage tank. In another era, that might seem like an interesting bonus, like a darkroom or a workshop. But in the middle of today's drought, it sounds like a basic necessity.

The water tank was installed by former owner Andre Argaud, who, besides once serving as Patricia Kluge's personal chef, maintained a side business growing mushrooms for commercial sale. Twelve 4' x 12' raised beds remain and have been put to good use to indulge the current owners' love of fresh food.

Situated far from the road in a corner of the 15-acre lot and surrounded by several thousand acres of farmland, the house has an impressive expansive vista. Built 60 years ago of timber frame construction, it looks like it could have been put up yesterday. Wide, multi-layered decking spans one entire side that harbors a pond with fountain, goldfish, and lotus plants.

Because of the welcoming deck, the front door barely registers on our radar, and the glass double doors to the kitchen seem the grander way in. Floor to ceiling windows plus skylights flood the place with light even on the overcast day of our visit.

An open floor plan gives the illusion of much more space, but would make sharing this space peacefully with teenagers problematic. Fortunately, there's enough space elsewhere on the grounds to accommodate all ages.

The kitchen, with its panoramic setting, wide yellow pine counters, and rounded cabinet corners, definitely is the most appealing element. Burned in a fire 20 years ago and reconstructed to maximize space and the view, it is the showcase for the entire house.

Reached from a small landing in the center of the first floor, upstairs is ostensibly the attic but has two small bedrooms and half bath. A larger bedroom downstairs (right by the front door, curiously) and a separate full bath function as the master suite. The small stairwell divides downstairs into living areas with a stacked stone fireplace on one side and television and entertainment center on the other. Not bad if there were more space, but a bit public for private moments.

Outside, though, presents an unlimited array of possibilities for stretching the living space. A six-stall horse barn converted to four stalls and an office/studio beckon from one corner where the deck extends. Another deck offshoot includes a hammock slung between two giant pines. A small cellar provides storage for the owner's garden harvest, and there's a discreetly placed exterior shower, all of which speaks of owners who enjoy outside as much as inside.

Fully established grape vines wind around an arbor that also incorporates a tree house (or rather, a grape house) with a long, metal slide for puckish children. A nearby garden shed with electricity could easily adapt to any use. Located next to the vegetable and berry garden, it once held an industrial-sized freezer so that produce could go directly from ground to storage. Thanks to a network of soaker hoses provided by the seemingly unending supply of water from the underground tank, vegetables soar in sunny oblivion to the drought.

Driving towards this house, past Ash-Lawn, for several miles it's all Kluge, private, distinct, and impeccably manicured. One quickly gets the idea that as long as any Kluge holds fort, it will remain this way. The privacy and expanse of land that that affords almost guarantees solitude. So, if the new owners of this house ever decide to shower al fresco, only the wildlife will know.