Strange bedfellows: Birds and a bomb shelter

ADDRESS: 832 Reas Ford Road

ASKING: $335,000

SIZE: 1,176 fin. sq. ft.



CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet, Re/Max Realty Specialists 974-1800

People who prefer spending more time outdoors than in, enjoy the sounds of woodpeckers and spring peepers, and dream of country living without a lot of upfront effort should give this property just north of the Rivanna Reservoir a closer look.

Centered on the flat top of a small knoll­ albeit at the end of a fairly steep and curvy driveway­ this small, circa 1940 house is so well settled into its landscape that just parking the car out front under a tall oak seemed to say, "You're home now." An American flag, window boxes, and a swing on the covered front porch contribute to the comfy feel.

While it's a 15-20 minute drive from town, several other houses are visible within shouting distance. But the real neighbors are likely to be the many raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, hawks, wild turkeys– and of course deer– that live nearby. A neighbor's pond provides the spring peepers and a habitat for migrating geese.

About half the 3.8 acres is cleared as well-tended lawn, shaded hosta-filled flower beds, and azaleas along the front of the house, but a few wildflower beds add a little spice. A hammock swings invitingly between two of the taller trees. According to the owner, the two acres of forest are crisscrossed by lots of "deer highways," some of which lead to Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Rivanna.

The current owners of "Green Hill" have updated the small kitchen at the rear of the house with white cabinets and dark high-density wood flooring from IKEA. Folks moving to the country for privacy might not be entertaining large crowds too often, but the dining room would certainly accommodate a nice-sized gathering. Its natural light, built-in corner cupboard and matching cabinetry make it one of the most inviting rooms in the house. Multi-tiered decking out back works for outdoor dining.

A narrow hallway links the dining room with the open living room, featuring more of the hardwood floors found throughout. A fireplace with soapstone hearth gets help from a new propane furnace that can convert to natural gas via a nearby line. Central air supplements the many shade trees, though closed windows would muffle all the cooing, peeping, and wood-pecking that make country living so alluring.

Ads say the house has three bedrooms, but most folks would count only two: A teeny square of a space with a linen closet is better outfitted with the computer desk and dressers currently there than anything that calls for a mattress. The single bathroom is adequate and easily serves both bedrooms while a large attic provides storage. This is single-level living suited for a couple or young family.

But in an interesting twist, an architectural model and schematic designs for two versions of a significant addition convey– thanks to the owners' architectural backgrounds.

Back outside, a detached single-car garage makes a great workshop and storage shed. A stand-alone brick fireplace with grill seems to beckon a round of fresh fish, and a hand pump connects to the covered well.

But the real bonus lies out front under what looks deceptively like a covered wishing well. The property's original owners, undoubtedly 1950s "Red Scare" victims, went down about nine feet and constructed an honest-to-goodness concrete bomb shelter. Now that we've forgotten all about the Evil Empire, "It would make a great wine cellar," according to the current owner.