Charmed: Downtown bungalow offers cozy comforts

ADDRESS: 403 Hedge Street

ASKING: $295,000

SIZE: 1,334 fin. sq. ft.



CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: June Craddock of Real Estate III-North


After watching the ongoing building spree happening around Charlottesville, one can easily question the future of our fair town. Are we becoming, as so many people fear, another Fredericksburg? A quaint (and very quiet) downtown surrounded by a 20-mile radius of strip malls and IHOPs? We all hope not.

One of the reasons for a lot of frenzied attention in Belmont and elsewhere in the city is that downtown is such a sweet place to be. This little house sits on a little street that most people would miss getting to and from more popular areas. Each neighboring house is of similar vintage, but each is stamped by the individuality of its owner. Thanks to strict parking penalties for non-residents, members of a one-car household can easily drive right up to their front walkway.

The biggest boon to these smaller homes is the front porch. The one here seems wide enough to accommodate a small party, but is also secluded enough for privacy. It's easy to imagine spending a very cordial summer evening here. A beautiful doublewide front door greets visitors with surrounding panes of beveled glass that provide a preview of goings-on inside.

The front entrance hall, with the proportions of a full-sized room, appears odd in a house so small. But it's a real plus, as a grand entrance (or exit, for that matter) can disguise inadequacies lurking elsewhere. The living room to the left has the requisite high ceiling and polished hardwood floor that with a little chintz, velvet, and gold could rival the big dames on Park Street.

A staircase divides front and back. The two back rooms mirror the ones in front with similar proportions (approximately 15'X 15'). One has two walls of built-in bookshelves, and a computer hook-up in the center of the floor bespeaks its latest use as a home office. Although it's marketed as a bedroom (but with no bathroom downstairs), the quarters could be a mite cramped if the total number of family members exceeds the national average.

The kitchen stretches along the back of the house. Unfortunately, whoever decided to add on this ridiculous appendage was not thinking resale. More like a galley, this one-person, barely-turn-around-in excuse for cooking space could consign one to using the Downtown Mall's exquisite eateries as a mess hall. For such a charming bungalow, it's a shame a little more thought did not go into this space.

But all is not lost. Sliding glass doors at the refrigerator open onto a brick patio surrounded by a neat little yard. Here's a suggestion: Bump out the walls and extend the current space into something that more befits the house and downtown.

Upstairs, a lot of improvements have been made, and it shows. Two equal-size rooms partitioned by a bathroom and hall glitter with newness. The back bedroom has a wall of drawers and shelves installed by the eminent Jaeger& Ernst cabinetmakers. The drawers float open– no heaving on rusty hinges, just a gentle in and out.

The bathroom has tub/shower combo, recessed vanity, and all the other necessities. The front room has a south-facing window providing a view of the neighborhood. A wall of closets has been added to complete the living ensemble.

An odd little room at the top of the stairs has been perfectly outfitted to accommodate a stackable washer/dryer. Good thinking! Clothes can go from wash to wear or vice versa without having to be hauled downstairs to a basement or wherever.

As one stands on the front porch, though, the details of inside pale in comparison to the obvious advantages of living so close to such a colorful metropolis. The idea of being able to walk to the library, or art openings, or just the fact of going for a walk at all touches a chord in the driving-weary among us.