Close the door: Big barn makes high-class house

ADDRESS: 2418 Northfield Road

ASKING: $1,195,000

BUILDING: 6,400 fin. sq. ft. + 1,050 sq. ft apartment

LAND: 1.87 acres



CURB APPEAL: 9 of 10

LISTED BY: Loring Woodriff, McLean Faulconer Inc. 466-2992

We've all heard kids ribbing a chum who's done something particularly boorish– say, left the door open on a cold day, or put her feet up on the furniture. "What's wrong with you? Were you raised in a barn?"

If you buy this house, your kids will be able to answer, "You betcha!"

Not that On the Block wants to give the little blighters an excuse to misbehave, but this enormous brick residence actually is the original barn of the Northfields estate, which lent its name (and its manor house) to today's Northfields subdivision off Rio Road.

Amid the up-scale renovations that turned the original farm building into a modern residence, one notable remnant of the original use remains: The huge top-story 36' x 31' hayloft has been left relatively untouched, complete with the complicated and strangely attractive iron pulley system that moved the bales around.

The other half of the third level consists of two full bedrooms and the fifth fully tiled bathroom in the house. The original wide pine floors have been preserved up here, along with stout oak trusses supporting the gambrel roof. In the past, the huge space has been used as a rec room and a gym, but those rambunctious children would no doubt find it a paradise.

And they'd have the best views in the house, too, which is saying a lot considering its perch on high ground and its almost unobstructed views to the east. Downstairs a recent glass-walled (and stone-fireplaced) "great room" addition and adjoining deck enjoy that view, too, but here, tragically (not too strong a word), the view is polluted by a new McMansion smack in the line of sight toward the mountains. Whoever allowed that parcel to be developed must have been raised in a barn.

To say the house has a large living room, six fireplaces, five tiled bathrooms, a workable (as opposed to ridiculously overlarge and space-wasting) kitchen, and gracious dining room– while all true– is to miss the ways the spirit of the barn is still evident. A large entry hall leads to a room of undetermined use (both have soapstone floors) that might be a parlor in a more formal house, but here it's an almost rustic space with a fireplace.

On the other side of the entry hall, the rusticity disappears in the large living room, thanks to unusual teak parquet flooring, another fireplace, and wide spans of built-in bookshelves and cabinets. In addition to the dining room and kitchen, the first floor also has a library/office (another fireplace, more shelves). But the bonanza is the great room with its wall of windows, storage space beneath the window seats, elegant wet bar, and, of course, the views.

On the second level the master suite is sadly misplaced at the wrong end of the house (no glorious vistas), but it's still pretty swanky (in a non-barn way) with its own fireplace, raised brick hearth, and master bath with limestone counters imported from France– embedded prehistoric fossils and all.

Storage in a barn, of course, goes without saying– and here includes large closets in all five bedrooms as well as a cedar closet for woolies. What's surprising are the 21st-century amenities: four-zone heating and AC, five rooms equipped with CAT-5 wiring, and the three-car garage with apartment (and metal roof) above.

Outside, the landscaping is what you'd expect: bunches of boxwoods, plenty of perennials, slews of specimen trees, a wide lawn, and another interesting remnant of the old days– a graceful cement stairway that unfortunately now goes nowhere. The agent says it probably originally led to a formal garden that seems to have given its life so that the big new house sitting uphill from the barn could be born. Sigh.

Someone who knows this house has remarked, with a slight sneer of superiority, "It's a nice enough house, but it's not for everybody." Well, yes. But that's true of every house. This house is not for "everybody," but it is for somebody who has lamented, "Look at all this stuff! We should be living in a barn!"

Here it is, the answer to your prayers– and in a more sophisticated form than you ever imagined. If you move in, however, always remember to close the door when you leave.

Otherwise people will ask, "What's the matter with you? Were you...?"