Room for all: Crozet rambler does just that

ASKING: $327,000

SIZE: 2900 fin. sq. ft., 600 unfin.

YEAR BUILT: 1918

NEIGHBORHOOD: Crozet-ish

CURB APPEAL: 5 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Patricia Gaesser of Montague, Miller & Co., 434-973-5393

As you drive through Crozet on Route 788, the mountains rise in a soft, rolling kind of way. Impressive without being intimidating, they harbor lakes and streams, orchards, old houses and new, plenty of history, and a view that many a front porch takes advantage of.

On the edge of Crozet, slightly off the beaten track– down a gravel road, across the train tracks, and behind several tall bushes– sits this cottage-style farmhouse. Despite that description, this house does not quite stand alone. A former owner built a pre-fab for her daughter within spitting distance of the front porch and unfortunately situated it so that the houses face each other in a weird kind of pas de deux. (Insert fence here.)

Quickly, though, as our tour begins, the other house fades out of existence. The sweeping 40-foot porch with its 15-foot-high ceiling has the dimensions of a ballroom. (Finally, an outdoor room with a view instead of those nasty little porticoes that a dog couldn't turn around on.) Inside, old and new commingle harmoniously. A wide central hallway and staircase break the downstairs into four huge rooms. Original heart pine floors, crown molding, and window trim glow with constant care.

Each room could serve many purposes; none outshines the others in proportion or light. Ostensibly, one in the back is designated a bedroom and has a full, modern bath which is a recent addition. The kitchen, probably not original, shines in glossy white newness. A strange little alcove used as a walk-in pantry has the current owner speculating about possible past uses. A semi-circular cement ceiling seems to indicate a heating/cooking unit of some sort, but what exactly, he hasn't a clue.

Upstairs, a wide array of angles and corners have been manipulated so the walls create rooms that housed the four girls between the ages of 10 and 14 who used to live here. One bathroom with a wall that is the underside of the steep roof demonstrates the best of what's old and what's new. A clawfoot tub and toilet hark back to olden days, but a walk-in, fully tiled, super-deluxe shower elegantly represents the 21st century. (It's the kind you might find at a Cancun resort.)

The other room on the back of the house has a similar sloping walls (limiting any six-footer to pacing up and down the center of the room) and an odd configuration of nooks and crannies that would satisfy any child's fantasy life.

The two other conventional bedrooms have plenty of space, and gargantuan closets. The hallway that connects each room, without any common area, appears a bit closed off and dark. Front and center, another added room with a wall of windows to the mountains is probably the most sought-after room on this level.

Everybody deserves their own space, but because of the location, we suggest demolishing some of the walls to let the light shine through. A small library or reading room– perhaps with big pillows– could unify the upstairs into a more user-friendly environment.

Outside the fun continues. The original well house off the kitchen adds character with a stone trough and space for storage. Off to one side, there's a garden spot with water and electric hookups for ponds, and then further afield, the jackpot: a two-story ramshackle relic in a perfect state of dilapidation. Downstairs a handyman's workshop, upstairs, space for kids playing music, painting, potting, privacy, whatever.

The list of other attributes could go on and on. It's a rambler in the best sense of the word. The neighbors live close, but not so close as to impinge on whatever sanctuary or brouhaha the future residents might want to create. There's enough room here for everyone, even a few goats.