Cherry-picked: Redone Fifeville ranch is the bees' knees

Address: 1518 Cherry Avenue
Neighborhood: Fifeville   
Asking: $318,000
Assessment: $208,300    
Year Built: 1955
Size: 1940 fin. sq. ft.  
Land: 0.20 acres
Agent: Steve Taylor, Cornerstone Real Estate 434-981-9850
Curb Appeal:
 8 out of 10

College students who survive first-year dorm life eventually move on to fraternity row or pack like sardines in off-campus housing. But if graduate school is in their future, most find the choice of continuing to live among undergrads unappealing. The option then is paying higher rent for more room and less nightlife in neighborhoods off the beaten student track.

Another choice might be to move in with a significant other, but then the question arises: buy or rent?

Five years ago, the current resident of 1518 Cherry Avenue took the double plunge of beginning grad school (engineering) and undertaking home ownership— purchasing a fixer-upper on the fringe of Fifeville. Energetic and artistic, she rolled up her sleeves, put down her bees (she’s also an apiarist), and has been a hands-on property owner ever since.

A complete renovation of the interior (down to replacing the furnace) as well as tackling the outside with a new deck, patio, and roof put her engineering skills to the test.

The appeal of this 1955 ranch is its simple, clean lines. A low-pitched roof and deep eaves overhang narrow awning windows, providing privacy on a busy street. The owner added lush grasses, Arts and Crafts fixtures, and a bold color palette to give the house a contemporary look.

The living room continues the modern theme with a sleek stainless ceiling fan, contemporary wood cabinets, and furnishings to complement gleaming hardwood floors. A U-shaped updated kitchen shines with white cabinets and appliances, stainless hardware, soft grey laminate countertops, and marbled vinyl floor.

At the end of a long narrow hall are the master bedroom with a smaller room on either side. One bedroom, off the kitchen, sports the knotty pine popular in the fifties. This room has morphed into a dining room with the removal of several doors and the addition of a chandelier.

Still, this is one room a new owner might consider renovating. Eliminating the paneling and opening the doorway will improve the flow for entertaining and make the living room less isolated. The new bathroom has a ceramic tile floor and wood wainscoting surrounding a porcelain sink and fiberglass tub.

Converting a bedroom into a dining room might normally pose a space dilemma, but it’s not less a worry here as there’s an additional bedroom on the lower, walkout level of the house. A generous bathroom with jetted tub, ceramic tile floor, and large vanity, a walk-in closet, a second laundry facility, and a kitchen with an open dining/living room area create a useful private apartment in the basement. If height isn’t an issue, one could be quite content staying in this spacious suite, but the addition of a laminate wood floor would be a cozy finishing touch.

Outside, the owner has built two separate levels for entertaining: a wood deck and an artsy mosaic stone patio. The landscaped yard is picture-perfect and fit for a queen– bee that is. The wood-box hives will be relocated once the house sells, but in the meantime, the flowers are well pollinated, and the bees are not the only appreciative beneficiaries of the design.

In the past five years, the Fifeville area has undergone a wave of gentrification. Upscale developments like Cherry Hill and Village Place have attracted buyers and stimulated the market on this side of the tracks. For a buyer who wants a slightly shorter commute to downtown, the University, or hospital grounds (and the benefit of a rental to offset the mortgage payment) this Cherry Avenue property could be a sweet deal.
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