Head for the hill

ASKING:  $985,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,607 finished 1,100 unfinished
ADDRESS: “Karlona Woods,” Route 627
NEIGHBORHOOD: Ash Lawn/Morven area
CURB APPEAL: No curb. It’s on top out of a possible 10.
LISTED BY: Jim Faulconer of McLean Faulconer * 981-0076

When you hear of a house on 96 acres on top of Carter’s Mountain, the first thing you think is “views.” People visiting the orchard on the western slope invariably rave about the panoramic vistas. So it’s amazing that this new house on the other side of the mountain has no views. How can that be?
    To get here, you take Route 627 past places like Ash Lawn, Morven, Lanark, and Albemarle House— so immediately you know you’re in tony company. Off that road, a mile-long drive leads through pastures and a hardwood forest to Karlona Woods on top of the hill.
    Here stands a 32’ x 32’ house, four stories tall. Entering the ground-level door beside the one-car garage, you find yourself in the largest basement room, surprisingly light thanks to clever glass panels built into the deck above it. In addition, there are a half-bath and a large kitchen area which the current owner, a photographer, uses as a darkroom.
    A flight of stairs, solid oak like all the floors in the upper three levels, leads into a large open space on the main level. You’ll need your sunglasses here: light floods in through enormous uncurtained double paned windows. The back of the room is divided into a smallish kitchen, serviceable but unimaginative, and a master suite.
    The next set of stairs leads to swinging ersatz French doors opening to a large space used now as a bedroom. The owner explained that in the original design a wall divided the area into a bedroom and a landing/hall, but she prefers the openness of one big room. A new owner might want to put the wall in to avoid having the stairs come directly into a bedroom. Two of the closets in the four bedrooms on this level are cedar-lined; all the closets have cedar shelves. It smells nice when you open the doors.
    Up yet another flight of stairs— you have to be in shape to live here— is the fully floored attic. It could easily accommodate two bedrooms or could be a playroom… if you don’t mind that you get to it through a bedroom. What was the architect thinking?
So. It’s a big house, with many extras: solid six-panel yellow pine doors; all-birch kitchen and bathroom cabinets; intercom system throughout, including basement and attic; phone jacks and TV outlets in every room. But what about the view? This is a fine house, but who is going to pay $985,000?
They say real estate is all about location— in this case,  Carter’s Mountain— and someone will spend money like that only if views are part of the package.
    Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: you can pick your views— the owner has left the forest untouched so that the new residents can decide which vista to wake up to each morning: Wintergreen and Charlottesville to the west, or rolling Piedmont to the east. The bad news is that to get the views, you have to cut down some trees. Fortunately, a logger is offering to pay you $8,000-$10,000 to take some off your hands.
    So you get the views. Then you have everything: a spot almost unique in the county; the allure of the new (every creature comfort has been accommodated); and, best of all, the fact that there’s no neighbor for miles. That means you can run around the house— even mow the lawn— stark naked. Now that might be worth a couple of hundred thousand by itself.

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