Late bloomers: Belmont garden still glowing

ADDRESS: 925 Belmont Avenue

ASKING: $315,000

BUILDING: 1494 fin. sq. ft., 450 unfin.

LAND: 0.087 acres



CURB APPEAL: 7 of 10

LISTED BY: Owner, Lindsay Howerton 244-0547

Everyone's happy about winter's delayed arrival this year– no need to crank up the furnace yet, football tailgating extended into November, and outdoor exercise still possible in the lengthening golden shadows.

The owner of this little house in Belmont is no exception. She's thrilled to be able to show prospective buyers the many flowers and shrubs madly blooming in the interesting urban garden she's created using native plants, many from Monticello's Tufton Farm. In addition to brightening up the yard now, they allow a potential new owner to imagine how profuse the show will be in the spring.

The gardens are just part of an arty makeover of a typical early-20th century house. While leaving the wide heart pine floors untouched in most rooms, on the first level the owner tackled the kitchen and a shed at the back of the house (common in Belmont), probably a later addition for plumbing.

The kitchen has new soapstone countertops, a deep double porcelain sink, oak floors (probably another indication of their later addition), and stainless steel appliances, including a stove with dual convection/conventional oven. All appliances convey, including the washer-dryer unit in the lean-to. The other half of the add-on has been made into a little half bath, with surely the tiniest sink we've ever seen, custom designed for the space and looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

The three fireplaces in the house– one in the living room off the wide entrance hall, one in the dining room (with unusual woodwork), and one in an upstairs bedroom– aren't currently functional because the chimneys need to be lined. While the gas furnace and AC are new within the last year, to complement the homey feel of the place (and considering the price of gas!), the next owner might want to consider having the chimneys fixed and settle back to enjoy warm fires on chilly nights.

Upstairs are three bedrooms (one of them pretty small) and a larger bathroom than we expected– with a neat built-in mirrored vanity space and extra large linen closet. The stairs to the landing show the attention to detail– intricately carved banister railings and a window where the stairs turn– that's always surprising in construction that was undoubtedly at best utilitarian back in 1925.

The arty feel continues with the new red metal roof (just painted, along with the rest of the exterior), brick porch pillars, new picket fence around the front garden, and copper downspouts and gutters. Plaster walls, vintage light fixtures, a big-enough-to-stand-up-in dirt-floored "root cellar," and funky old metal air-return grate in the entry hall floor are further reminders of the house's humble beginnings.

It's the gardens that remind us we're firmly in the 21st century. When she moved in, the owner took a typically neglected city backyard and created a mini Eden right across the street from Clark School. A small but sturdy deck provides a nice vantage point from which to enjoy the many perennials, shade trees, and pathways. And if the new owners have a mind to enjoy morning coffee on the deck, protected from neighbors by huge boxwoods, they'll probably also enjoy being able to pick some breakfast treats from the "super fruiting" cherry and plum trees within easy reach.

Cozy, convenient, and au courant, this in-town residence provides an attractive alternative to condominium living for a couple or small family wanting to be near downtown.