Got stuff? Don't bring it with you

ADDRESS: 2521 Brunswick Road


ASKING: $384,900


SIZE: 1,798 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.23 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10

LISTED BY: Gail Mustoe, Real Estate III, 817-9300, 800-868-0025

Let's face it: everybody has too much stuff. Consignment shops, estate sales, "yard sale" signs on every corner and in column after column of classified ads– even eBay and its spin-offs– all testify to people's need to unload junk.

Folks who can't part with the flotsam rent "u-stor-it" units, build outbuildings, or cram attics, basements, and garages full of boxes they never open again.

Such people– if they also happen to be house-hunting– might consider this story-book place the answer to their prayers. While it's loaded with quaint charm, sits on a pretty landscaped lot just around the corner from Fry's Spring Beach Club, and offers quick access to the University, I-64, and 29 South, its storage space is minimal. Of the total of four closets, two (with miniature doors about five feet high) would be at home in Alice in Wonderland; another– under the roof off the master bedroom– is even smaller; and the one of reasonable size is downstairs, next to the kitchen.

To be fair, there's also a normal-size linen closet, an attic with pull-down stairs, a utility basement, and storage boxes under built-in seats beside the living room fireplace. A tiny backyard shed could hold garden implements, and a garage (with vinyl "parquet" on the floor) can also accommodate cast-offs. But overall, the house could be a dream come true for minimalists who don't accumulate baggage, or for junk junkies who need help trying to kick the habit.

Two unusual elements about the house caught our fancy: an inglenook under an arch in the living room, and a narrow butler's pantry between the kitchen and dining room. Built-in benches on either side of the recessed fireplace look like a perfect winter retreat to snuggle and watch snow flying outside the four large living room windows. It's an unusual element in the otherwise typical living room, with oak floors and an adjoining private screened-in porch.

The owner thinks the little pantry, with tiny sink, counters, and glass cabinets spanning an entire wall, was the spot where, back in the old days, the maid or butler would be waiting for a summons from a foot buzzer still visible in the middle of the dining room floor. While it's a bright, cozy room, it doesn't seem like it would have been a particularly comfortable spot to hang around waiting for the signal to run in with the Brunswick stew.

Imaginative kitchen renovations– new sink with enamel frieze, commercial Viking gas stove, and dropped ceiling with inset "tray" design– seem to be both appropriate to the '30s vibe and thoroughly modern. The kitchen, pantry, and dining room span the back of the house and seem larger because of the windows with views to the private backyard.

The owners have picked up on one design feature– bead board– to accentuate throughout the house. They added more to the original panels in the kitchen and pantry, and introduced it upstairs in a new bathroom created from one of the original four bedrooms. The result is mixed. While a second bathroom was obviously necessary, merely adding fixtures to a former (good-sized) bedroom does not a bathroom make. The room is too big to contain just a toilet, sink, and claw-foot tub– pretty bead board notwithstanding.

The other three bedrooms are likewise of generous proportions, and the original bathroom now in the master suite is an elegant space worthy of the classiest subdivision, with big glass-enclosed tiled shower, stacking washer/dryer, and tile floor.

The long backyard is fenced and private, with perennial gardens and many of the huge trees for which JPA is famous. On the side of the house, a mature rhododendron hedge shields the screened porch, and azaleas and a row of peonies bank the front windows.

This is an unusual house that will appeal to people bored by traditional brick ranchers and predictable floor plans. The fact that they'll have to have a yard sale or list most of their stuff on eBay before they move in may possibly be seen as an additional appeal.