ADDRESS: 2160 Hawkshill Lane
NEIGHBORHOOD: Stony Point Road
YEAR BUILT: 1992
SIZE: 3175 fin. sq. ft., 417 unfin.
LAND: 9.53 acres
CURB APPEAL: 6 out of 10
LISTED BY: Robert Ramsey, Prudential Charlotte Ramsey Realtors 242-2280
The designer of this house out Route 20 north is guilty of the Biblical sin of hiding his light under a bushel.
The first problem is the approach. As the crow flies, this property is easily accessible from town– according to the agent's calculations, just eight minutes out Route 20 north to Route 746, Foster's Branch Road. Alas, there aren't many crows in the real estate market these days, and when a prospective human buyer has to drive instead of fly, the distance seems not only farther than eight minutes, but also much more trying– over a narrow gravel lane instead of on billowy up-drafts.
And intrepid potential buyers who finally do wend their way into the clearing where the house sits come suddenly upon a bland gray cedar-sided structure without much oomph.
But once inside the front door, the bushel is lifted: the flying gravel of the approach is forgotten, bright reds and whites supplant the dull gray, and "Wow" replaces whining.
Despite the traditional exterior, the inside can fairly be described as a "stunning contemporary." Quickly flicking past a full bath and office (or guest room) flanking the front door, a visitor's eye is instantly drawn through a bright red arch to a view of the enormous living room with vaulted ceiling, skylights, and two walls of windows with views to the nine forested acres.
This huge room is dominated by a massive fireplace of river rock (the woodstove in the fireplace conveys), but built-in bookcases, an open stairway leading to the second level, and rich oak floors do their part to contribute to the feeling of exuberant modernity. Most striking– and surprising, considering the surrounding forest– is the amount of light admitted by the many casement windows and skylights.
The builder decided to funnel some of that solar bounty into the second level by embedding glass bricks into a loft containing the master suite and a third bedroom and bath. The bricks not only work upstairs but also add to the sparkle and gleam of the great room.
The master bedroom is spacious without being obscene, and the en suite black-and-white bathroom is pretty and functional without a lot of wasted space. (It's also the only bathroom in the house with real tile, alas.)
One puzzling fact about the bedroom is that it has no door: only an "anteroom"– large enough to even be a sitting room or small office– buffers the bedroom from the first level. While the openness– especially with respect to heat from the fireplace and all that light– is undoubtedly welcome (maybe even romantic) for a couple, a family with children, or even frequent guests, might worry about the lack of privacy.
Storage is another 21st century requirement the designer met head on by providing more closets and unique tucked-away pantries, linen closets, and shelving than we've seen in many other houses. These sorts of details show a care for comfortable living as well as for visual pyrotechnics.
And where storage is concerned, the ground level– with so much light, the first floor can't rightly be described as a basement– is no exception. Down here another bedroom, a full bath, and a large utility room (addition of a stove would make it a kitchen) could be a mother-in-law apartment. The above-ground situation and many windows make this level almost as light as the main floor.
Using the basement as an in-law or nanny apartment might appeal to people nervous about being in such a remote location (note, though, that a generator for snowbound emergencies also conveys, and a $15/month maintenance fee paid by owners of the eight parcels along the road pays for winter plowing).
On the other hand, self-sufficient nature lovers might find the prospect of retreating at the end of the day to their own beautiful private hideaway something most decidedly to crow about.
PHOTOS BY ROSALIND WARFIELD-BROWN