Mixed message: Greenbrier rancher raises questions

ADDRESS: 1302 Lester Drive


ASKING: $455,000



SIZE: 3,860 fin. sq. ft., 1,186 unfin.

LAND: 0.284 acres

CURB APPEAL: 6 out of 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet Re/Max Realty Specialists 974-1500

This quintessential Cold War-era ranch house has an interesting history. The simple two-bedroom, one-bath brick structure was built in 1960, three years before most of the area was annexed as Greenbrier, an early city subdivision. In the '70s, builder Preston Stallings put on an addition that almost doubled the size of the original place.

Run down and neglected by 2000, the house went into foreclosure. In 2001, according to city records, new owners began applying CPR, installing new sub-flooring, rafters, gutters, and roof, moving interior walls, and performing other necessary upgrades.

When the current owners took possession in 2002, they apparently decided to dab some icing on the cake. Old distressed-wood doors that appear to be from a barn became the partition between the dining and living rooms, an arty mantel topped the living room fireplace, crown molding and faux wainscoting (paneling) sprouted everywhere, pairs of old French doors were installed between many rooms, and a window-walled workshop was created by enclosing the former carport.

Underpinning all the changes, a huge unfinished basement space provided storage undreamed of in many houses today.

A visitor to the house may be charmed by these and other unusual features: the concrete "wading pool/ pond" off a wide deck, the big living room picture window providing views of a red crepe myrtle in full bloom, the mirror backsplash above the kitchen sink and counters, charming interior shutters in a small front bedroom, black and red tile in the original bath, and the modern Jacuzzi-equipped bath in the large master suite.

Depending on one's point of view, ritzy antique light fixtures in almost every room (that apparently convey) either add an exciting accent to the otherwise prosaic ranch design or strike a curiously discordant note.

But as they say, the devil's in the details. Look closely, and puzzling questions arise. What's that brick-lined inset space in the wall of the family room off the deck? It looks like it was intended to be a barbeque grill, but there's no chimney or vent. What's with the spiffy white-tiled TV alcove in the master bedroom, so convenient opposite the bed– but dependent on an extension cord threaded from the den because the built-in outlet isn't hot? What's with the convenient and good-sized office off the large, bright family room with several convenient outlets– all dependent on an old-fashioned fuse box that also turns on the baseboard heat– and won't turn off?

Whose idea was it to box that fancy Jacuzzi in an inaccessible corner of the bathroom in such a way that to turn the water off and on or plug the stopper, a bather has to wade the length of the tub, and once immersed in the water, sits facing blank walls on three sides? What's with the Bondo-like finish on the huge verdigris-green living room and dining room, and tomato-red kitchen walls (under what seem to be the original fluorescent lights)?

These and other puzzlers may not bother a potential buyer who considers them insignificant when balanced against the enormous space, the quiet, convenient city neighborhood, and the gorgeous oak floors that make the original section of the house quite classy.

On the other hand, people who don't want to cope with all the inconsistencies may walk away shaking their heads, asking, "What were they thinking?"