Pay per view: Breath-taking ridge-top vistas

ADDRESS: 1247 Turner Mountain Road


ASKING: $947,500



SIZE: 2,513 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 5.0 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Jim McVey, Roy Wheeler Realty Co., 951-5122

The old adage that location is the most important thing in real estate is certainly true in Charlottesville. But in the county, views seem to be the ultimate deal-maker.

This contemporary was built in 1978 on the side of Turner Mountain near Ivy to maximize eastern views toward town. Like others we've reviewed in this neighborhood [3436 Peyton Ridge Road in "California Dreamin'" May 23, 2002], the house is perched on the ridge so that there's no backyard– just a big drop-off into forest. But because there's a tiny bit more level ground behind this house than most, the owners have been able to extend a narrow deck along the back of the house to create an elevated hexagonal "room."

The views and the sense of tranquility there are so sweet that it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to come inside, but if it rains and they have to– or if winter comes, which it probably must– at least from almost every room they can still enjoy the far horizon. Only the kitchen and one bedroom on the front of the house do not provide a view to the green beyond.

The front door opens to a slate foyer that leads directly to the large living room with lots of glass. Oak floors, a wood-burning fireplace with raised hearth, and built-in bookshelves are nice amenities, but really, the most important feature is outside the windows. With such a vista always available, it seems like it wouldn't really matter whether heat came from a raised-hearth fireplace or a woodstove.

The dining room is up a few steps toward a family room in a 1990 addition. A nice touch is pocket doors that separate the dining room from the family room and the kitchen from the front hall. Large pass-throughs on two walls separating the family room from the kitchen open that space and make it possible for a hostess working over the sink or bending over the oven to be part of the action in the adjoining rooms. The muted gray colors of the kitchen are an understated complement to the green pressing in at every window.

The master suite on this level has an unusual bed with built-in bookcases and lights. While the bedroom has lots of windows and a door to the deck, the bed inexplicably doesn't seem to be built in at the most advantageous spot for views. The adjoining bath has a tile floor and requisite Jacuzzi, and there's a small office back here as well as a second bedroom with full bath.

The ground level is almost a separate residence, with kitchenette, full bath, two bedrooms (both with views to the valley), and an entrance from the under-deck patio space. Families with small children who want to entertain grandparents or old college classmates can keep the kiddies close at hand upstairs and park the visitors safely out of earshot down here. Parents of teenagers will be happy to have this completely separate space to let them retire to listen to that awful music.

The house is faced with cypress siding and has a cedar shake roof for maximum chameleon-like blending into the surrounding forest, which is substantial and provides plenty of wood for the fireplaces, not an insignificant benefit in these days of soaring natural gas prices. But for those who don't feel like stooping and bending to collect all the fallen twigs and branches, the house is equipped with solar panels that the agent says helped last year's electric bills (for running two heat pumps) average $176/month.

The house is offered on five acres for $947,500, or on 10 acres for $1,250,000. The extra five acres are a legal building lot, but one would hope that people buying a house in this price range will be able to keep the land undeveloped to maximize their (and their neighbors') enjoyment of the view.

After all, that's the real reason everybody's here.