REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Loch Leigh: Lakeside living only seven miles out


ADDRESS: 870 Emerson Drive



ASKING: $599,500

ASSESSMENT: $479,800


SIZE: 2,210 fin. sq. ft., 1,000 unfin.

LAND: 1.97 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10

LISTED BY: Sharon Donovan  Frank Hardy Inc., 981-7200

"He lives at the lake!" 

These words, usually delivered with forced cheer and a too-bright smile, almost always refer to a resident of Lake Monticello. Maybe it's the size of the place that has made the words "the lake" seem synonymous with the sprawling retirement community in Fluvanna County. But there are other lakes one could just as easily talk about: sweet Lake Reynovia, where old-timers wistfully remember taking tots on hot summer days; White Hall's Lake Albemarle, with its storied CCC history and old Boy Scout campsite; and of course beach-bedecked Chris Greene and other county swimming lakes.

This week, however, when we say we're writing about a house on "the lake," we're referring to "Loch Leigh," a private, multi-acre water body in the West Leigh subdivision on Route 250 west that's probably unknown to anyone who doesn't live there or have friends who do.

The fact that it's a hidden treasure makes this house's position high on a water-front bluff all the more desirable. The owner explained that the land of owners whose property borders the lake extends beyond the shore. That's an interesting concept that probably serves to promote collegiality and neighborliness, which he also claims is also an attribute of the subdivision.

The house itself is a modest Cape Cod bungalow with Williamsburg/Jeffersonian overlays, the latter evident in an ornate railing surrounding the entryway and a porch off the kitchen, and chair rail and crown molding in living and dining room.

Recent Hardieplank that replaced original wood siding strikes an oddly modern note beside the colonial touches, and that's not the only change that has happened to the place over the years. The current owners redid the kitchen from the studs up, gutted and reconfigured the downstairs WC from a full bath to a half, and installed a bay window in the family room/den overlooking the lake.

New paint, ceiling fans (what is their appeal in a house with central air?), as well as window and lighting replacements round out the recent interior upgrades.

And speaking of the kitchen, it's a compact room with a place for everything and nothing out of place. Corian counters are a pleasant surprise in this granite-worshipping era, as are sleek black appliances in place of the ubiquitous stainless. Maple cabinets, light gray linoleum floor, and a little pantry space leading to the side stairs and deck are other appealing aspects. One interesting touch in the breakfast area is a ceiling opening to vent a wood stove if new owners want to go the rustic route. The owners removed the old one when they moved in, but– perhaps mindful of the looming energy crisis– preserved the option to heat/cook with wood.

The large den/family room across the back has built-in cabinets and bookcases and subdued paneling that the owner says is due to be painted. Oddly, the paneling didn't bother us, maybe because it's lighter than the knotty pine boards common in grim basement dens, or maybe because, positioned as it is overlooking the lake, it seems woodsy and appropriate. The deck off this room has stairs leading to the sloping back yard with storage shed and elaborate kiddy play structure that can also convey if new owners want it.

The yard is fenced to keep children and pets safe, but, as mentioned, the lot extends into the lake, so a "beach front" is part of the deal, providing swimming possibilities or an entry point for a sturdy canoe, which can also convey.

Upstairs are three bedrooms– one designated the "master" (with a private bath), one average size, and one pretty small. All have unusual nook-like spaces created by the dormers, and two have under-eaves storage that could be opened with a little carpentry expertise to make the rooms much larger.

The two full baths have been renovated except for the showers, so all a new owner has to do is ditch the Motel-6-style fiberglass eyesores and hire a tile man to do it up right. And while that guy's on the premises, the owner has an interesting plan for expanding the first-floor half bath into a large suite by taking closets from what's now being used as a playroom but could serve as a fourth bedroom.

Half of the full basement has been finished with French doors opening to the patio under the deck. The other half is still a utility space with washer/dryer and other typical basement stuff, but it doesn't appear to be much of a problem to continue the upgrade to finish it like the other half.

As we've learned in the roiling local reservoir debate, lakes eventually shrink, and this one appears to be no exception. But for now, this little charmer on "Loch Leigh" offers waterfront living only seven miles from town.

Correction: The original printed version of this story wrongly reported that there was only one full bathroom and the master bedroom did not have its own bathroom. This online version of the story has been corrected to show that there are two full bathrooms including the master.



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