Fooled ya! All the fun's out back

ADDRESS: 921 Shadwell Court

ASKING: $925,000

SIZE: 7,939 fin. sq. ft. main house; 837 fin. sq. ft. (cottage)


NEIGHBORHOOD: Shadwell Estates

CURB APPEAL: 7 of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Prudential Charlotte Ramsey 296-4831

Remember 1960? Gary Powers? U-2 (the spy plane, not the rock group)? JFK's victory? It's fun to think about those things happening while this house was being built in Shadwell. (It's even more fun to think about what Shadwell– and the drive up Pantops and out 250 east to it– must have been like then.)

The reason 1960 figures into the discussion of this house is that there are so many reminders of the time still here: paneling, paneling, paneling, for starters. Nice tile in all the original bathrooms, and the long, lean "ranch" design, with one room stretching after another. You can almost see the happy housewife with her bouffant "do" maneuvering the vacuum over the wall-to-wall (now discarded in favor of oak, thank goodness).

Not that the current owners haven't done their best to update the place. In addition to ditching the shag, they've painted all the paneling white. You can still tell it's paneling, and the brown panels still lurk behind the bi-fold and louver closet doors, but painted white it becomes an interesting design element brightening up the large rooms. Second best move: an enormous addition to the original house, which not only brings the place into the 21st century, but ups the elegance factor ten-fold.

Unfortunately, the addition has created a layout that can be baffling on a quick tour. The full glass front door with glass side panels, very unusual in a residence, opens to a spacious entrance hall with a large stone fireplace. The fireplace is backed by its twin in the dining room to the left, while a large, extremely elegant den or family room lies to the right of the entrance (everything on this side of the house is a recent addition). This room by itself could captivate a buyer with its fireplace and gleaming white beamed ceiling, large bookcases, and cabinets.

At the back of this room is a compact full bar (fridge, sink, shelves, cabinets), a half-bath (beautiful tiles everywhere), and a butler's pantry. Down a step, and you're back in the entrance hall; step up again into the original part of the house to find a bright kitchen, a "breakfast room" bigger than most dining rooms, and the actual living room (with fourth fireplace). The original front door is in this room, curiously landscaped to block its use as an entrance. The new buyer's first job should be to turn that door into a big window.

Beyond are the bedrooms: the original master suite with full bath, and a second guest room. A glorious new master bedroom sports a luxury bathroom worthy of Architectural Digest, and not because of the arty glass-and-tile shower (no moving door, just an etched glass panel to step around), Jacuzzi, and elaborate sink. The over-the-top element here is a pocket door to the w.c.

So. It's a sprawling house, complemented by two rental units (both duplexes on separate lots), a guest cottage with fireplace, and a four-bay garage (almost brand new) with lots of storage space above.

But wait. The best is yet to come– a spectacular extravaganza between the house and cottage: lovely dual fishponds, "gunnite" swimming pool, hot tub, gazebo, dance pavilion, and beautiful landscaping that made us ache to stock the bar, sign up the Houserockers, and call 100 of our closest friends to come right over.

Discovering that this entertainment Valhalla is hidden behind what seems at first glance like a ho-hum house is like finding out that Marilyn and Judith had been overnight guests in Camelot. Appearances can indeed be deceiving.