Pristine: No taint at isolated cabin

ADDRESS: 971 Rainbow Ridge

NEIGHBORHOOD: Faber, Nelson County

ASKING: $925,000



SIZE: 3,855 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 121 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10

LISTED BY: Michele Sheffield Roy Wheeler Realty Company, 951-5188, 906-2923

When people visit a house they think they might buy, they no doubt go room to room imagining themselves in the space– the sideboard here, the antique mirror there, maybe the clutter everywhere. But when we here at On the Block look at a place, we imagine who might want to live there, what sort of family or couple or twentysomething the space seems to beckon.

This week's house conjured all sorts of inhabitants: rugged outdoor adventure camp proprietors, corporate big-wigs who need a conference center/getaway for their weary execs, New-Age devotees of the nearby Monroe Institute or Synchronicity Foundation– or even a self-sufficient eco-family with a mom yearning to home-school her brood in a healthy, remote preserve.

As we were driving over the country roads to the 121-acre spread, the agent mentioned a striking fact about this big log cabin: there's never been a pesticide, a chemical cleaning agent, or an artificial ingredient of any kind used on the premises. Not only that– not so much as the scent of meat has ever tainted the kitchen. Bubble Boy would thrive out here in the woods.

The house was built by– and the only inhabitant has been– the principal of an environmentally aware arts school in town. Using only local materials– Nelson county lumber, slate, tile, stained glass, and stone for the foundation, and recycled doors, cabinets, and bathroom fixtures, all assembled by local craftsmen– he and his late wife created a place to embody their philosophy of life. Communing with every sort of woodland creature including an amazing variety of bird life seems to have been one of the main attractions.

In the kitchen, a huge built-in cabinet/china closet fills one entire wall across from an old-fashioned wood-fired cook-stove. (There's a "real" electric stove around the corner in the laundry room, presumably for summer suppers when firing up the original might overheat the chef.) Butcher-block countertops surround the double sink, and one end of the adjoining living room can serve as the dining area.

Enormous logs compose the walls and beams of the living room, which stretches across the entire front of the house, with a native stone fireplace at one end. Off the living room, a large sunroom/greenhouse– with skylights, tile floor, water pump, and drain to accommodate plant maintenance– faces into the deep woods.

Also on the first floor is a handicap-friendly mother-in-law suite (accessed from outside by a ramp) with its own heat (woodstove and electric), full bath, and easy access across a foyer to the main part of the house. The log walls and ceiling in this part of the house have been white-washed to lighten the heavy effect of the ubiquitous dark wood.

Upstairs, two of the three bedrooms have deep cedar closets, one leading to commodious storage under the roof. Continuing the rustic, recycled theme, the full bath up here has an authentic antique claw-foot tub, but no shower. The bedrooms are of average size, and one has the top of the stone chimney as one wall.

The full basement could be a family room or teenagers' hangout– it has lots of room and more light than we expected because most of it is above ground thanks to the slight slope of the yard. This space also houses a state-of-the-art generator that– along with a well and the wood stoves– makes the house completely independent of the "grid," another bonus for back-to-the-earth'ers and other homesteading types.

The agent insists that the proximity to Wintergreen's Stoney Creek Golf Course is a big selling point, but it's hard to imagine a stereotypical golfer enjoying life in this very rustic, nature-friendly space. The vibe is way more ropes course than 19th hole, and those plaid pants would look funny hanging in dark cedar closets.

We think a more likely use would be as a summer home for a wealthy family with business and school in a big cosmopolitan center. Thinking about escaping to this completely private paradise might make that life a little more tolerable.