Greenwoodsy: Tiny cottage full of charms

ADDRESS: Route 691

ASKING: $210,000

SIZE: 960 fin. sq. ft., 60 unfin.



CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Ross Stevens, Stevens & Company 823-4694

The current owners of this little house in the woods, dubbed "Point Grove," have lived here for 34 years, and one of their grandmothers lived in the house before that. That long history is evident in the affection that infuses their descriptions of the life they've enjoyed here over the years, and in the improvements they've made.

The improvements are easy to describe: The couple took a tiny bungalow, built bookshelves, knocked down some walls, put up lattice to divide the entry hall from the living room, constructed a garden shed and a big wrap-around deck, and replaced all the windows with modern double-insulated models.

They left untouched the original porcelain bathroom fixtures and ceramic tile, the brick chimney (currently configured for a woodstove), and, best of all, the gorgeous red, white, and pin oaks that surround the house and give it its name.

There's wall-to-wall carpet in all of the rooms except the kitchen, but the owners say the original tongue-and-groove pine floors are intact under it. Our first move if we bought the house would be to get rid of the carpeting and set to work restoring the floors. It's likely that would make the tiny rooms seem bigger, and it would be in keeping with the reclaimed pine (from an old barn in Connecticut via Mountain Lumber, replete with original nail holes) used for all the cabinets when the kitchen was renovated.

Inside the "just under 1000 square feet" as the owners describe the house is just enough space for one person who likes solitude and tranquility, or a compatible couple (like the current residents) who won't get on each other's nerves in close quarters. In addition to the living room with the nice bookshelves and woodstove flue, there are two little bedrooms, the kitchen with washer/dryer alcove, pantry, and enough room for a breakfast table, and the perfectly serviceable bath.

It's the setting, however, that will capture almost any house hunter looking for the best of both worlds: convenience and protection. Convenience is provided by easy access to I-64 in a location just about midway between Charlottesville and Staunton.

Protection is provided by the huge estates surrounding these 3.5 acres Mirador across the road, Seven Oaks down the road, and Sunnybrae next door, all with most of their land in easements or otherwise shielded from development. So the solitude and tranquility of Point Grove are guaranteed to last.

Immediately in front of the house– in addition to the towering oaks– boxwoods and other shrubs greet anyone coming up the short, secluded driveway. Out back is a vegetable garden, and beyond that, woods. Views from the front are of the surrounding grand estates and the distant mountains.

One slight drawback is muffled traffic noise from I-64, which wasn't apparent to us until the owners apologetically pointed it out. The fact that we didn't even notice it speaks to the relative insignificance of the sound as a distraction. In fact, the couple have a saying about their long-time beloved home that puts the little buzz of tires into perspective.

"When people ask about noise around the place," they say, "we always reply, 'the view deafens us.'"

Prospective buyers may find they have the same problem, compounded by the irresistible urge to string a hammock and recline blissfully beneath the tall trees, or set a table on the wide deck for an intimate supper in the woods.