Crossbreed: A craftsman meets a barn

ADDRESS: 4465 Mockernut Lane

ASKING: $625,000

SIZE: 3600 fin. sq. ft., 352 unfin. sq. ft.



CURB APPEAL: 8 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Brian Stone, Century 21 Manley Associates 760-2326

What do you get when you mix the design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement and a horse barn? The answer's right here in this new house in Hickory Ridge.

Designer-owner Ted Knotts calls it "horse country craftsman," but even stretching your imagination, you'll be hard pressed to imagine the way the idea has played out here.

The two design motifs have one thing in common: wood, wood, and more wood. But this is a horse barn for steeds with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), because instead of the heavy, dark wood usually associated with barns and Craftsman construction, the wood here is quarter-sawn white oak. There's lots of it– acquired from a Mennonite woodworker in Harrisonburg– but the effect is light and airy, thanks in part to white wainscoting around it.

The radiant-heat concrete floors are covered with laminate patterned after floors taken from Baltimore's Camden Yards by Mountain Lumber in Madison– they're impossible to tell from true white oak. All of this extremely bearable lightness of being is accentuated by the expansiveness of the space.

Off the wide, wide entry hall is a small study or library with built-in bookcases. On the other side of the hall, a combination bookshelf/pass-through opens into a 22 x 32 "great room," one wall of which is entirely glass, with a view to distant mountains interrupted only by a vintage barn and silo adjoining a new McMansion. The owner pledges it's the only inerloper that will ever sully the majestic view. Outside the windows is a porch of 3-1/2" tongue and grove mahogany, not wide enough to be seen from inside the room (a neat little design trick), but beautiful when you're standing on it looking toward the hills.

Opposite the windows in the great room is a wall of wood surrounding a gas fireplace and camouflaging a TV. There's a window seat tucked in here, too, strangely not under a window. Oh well, what's in a name?

Off the great room is the dining room, and beyond that, the kitchen with two appendages: a laundry room with outside access, and a small play area for children (or work station for mom). The kitchen is the only problematic space in the whole house. It's too big. The appliances are great Thermidor range and fridge and Bosch dishwasher (cleverly hidden behind more A&C woodwork) and washer/dryer but the room is about half again as big as it needs to be.

The owners say they have their eye on just the solution an oak counter/chopping block that would fill up the empty middle of the room much like an island– but in its absence, we got tired just imagining the miles we'd walk preparing meals there.

The element that moderates our tsk-tsking about too much space is the concrete counters which at first glance look like leather, an amazing sight. Apparently concrete counters are coming on as the next big fad (The Mudhouse began the trend downtown, with Mas and Zocolo following), but none of the restaurants can rival these. The owner describes in vivid detail his ordeal with muriatic acid, and the results are worth his labors the counters are great.

Wide, light stairs lead to a most interesting second level, with three bedrooms and a "cupola room," all with vaulted ceilings. The latter is an unusual feature– a room in the middle of the house flooded with light. Right now, it's a playroom, but the designer envisions an artist's studio and gallery, and as you stand there looking up at soaring tromp l'oeil Boar's Head balloons, the idea makes perfect sense.

All the bathrooms have beautiful tile floors and tub and shower surrounds to complement more wood and more concrete counters. All the windows are Anderson casements.

So what do you get when you cross a horse barn and traditional Craftsmanship? You get this impressive crossbreed that will make light-loving modernists glad to come home, even if they have to be extra careful washing the expensive china.