By Wendy Gooditis
I love old movies. Black and white movies with Myrna Loy, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable — and many more. Even as a little girl, I was fascinated as much by the portrayal of a different era as I was by the stories themselves, and my greatest fascination was with the houses: huge rooms, big windows, seemingly endless places to put family members and guests. Movies with Katherine Hepburn often have lovely outdoor spaces — pools, tennis courts, plenty of countryside to gallop horses across. Barbara Stanwyck sweeps into spacious dining rooms in gorgeous sleek gowns, or reclines near a roaring fire. Robert Taylor smokes pipes in rooms lined with bookcases, with magnificent views from the huge windows. And now that it’s December, I’m watching my favorite Christmas and holiday movies again, and am noticing the rooms and fireplaces and views, as always.
So I started to think about perfect homes for the holidays, and one on Springsbury Road just on the outskirts of Berryville came to mind. It’s a spacious and gracious brick house on 36 acres with lots of the usual comforts, along with a number of unusual luxuries. This property is the perfect setting for holidays.
Let’s start with Christmas: the two rooms most important for our celebrations are the expansive living room and the adjoining large dining room. The Christmas tree gleams before the immense bay window, and the stockings are suspended from the mantel above a roaring fire. Through the double doorway, the dining table is set for Christmas dinner, with holly entwined in the chandelier. The wood floors gleam and the snow outside invites gazing out at the unobstructed view of blue and white mountains. The dogs and children, still smelling of the snowy woods where they have been playing all afternoon, chase each other through the rooms, but there is so much space that Uncle Scott doesn’t drop the pie, and Aunt Laura composedly continues to pour the cider.
On New Year’s Eve, the family has invited friends and neighbors with an extra helping of teenagers for a New Year’s bonfire out at the patio with the stone fire pit. The fire blasts heat enough for comfort despite the freezing temperatures, and the jugs of hot chocolate and the makings for s’mores are handy on a nearby table. As midnight arrives, the younger generation sets off firecrackers as celebratory noises echo from the mountainsides.
Easter arrives with the early spring, and an egg-dyeing session is in full swing in the lovely bright kitchen, with cups and dyes and decorations spread on the large peninsula/island. The private yard with its mature plantings is ideal for a major egg hunt, which will take place with boisterous activity among the trees with the attractive brick house as backdrop. Later, the family will stroll through their fields, breathing the heady fragrances of spring in the country.
Fourth of July is fantastic here! The family convenes for tennis matches on the court, contested with great energy, with the winners pouring buckets of ice over themselves and everyone within range. Then all traipse toward the gorgeous pool, down the steps from the sunroom, where colorful towels and great coolers of iced tea and lemonade await. Grandpa and Grandma sit in the sunroom where they can be out of the sun and cooled by the ceiling fan yet still see and enjoy all the grandkids’ wild leaps off the diving board. As night falls, the family reclines in the lounges and watches the fireworks being set off on the mountaintops.
There’s nothing like Thanksgiving in a family-oriented house like this one. The dining room is again the center of the holiday’s culinary aspect, but the younger kids had been playing soccer in the side yard before coming back inside to settle in the den and watch the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. Grandpa and the teenagers are playing pool downstairs in the other large family room, while Aunt Allison browses through the books from the shelves lining the walls there. The two family cats are down there too, periodically being let in and out of the sliding glass door, as is the custom of cats everywhere.
For all of these holidays, with four bedrooms and four full bathrooms, plus an extra room (office/bonus room) upstairs and the huge family room in the basement, the family can invite all the relatives to stay for the duration. With 36 acres, there is room for the horses too, of course, in horse-heavenly Clarke County. It is an extra benefit that the property is very close to town. Many Clarke County horse owners have to travel 20 minutes to pick up peanut butter and jelly, but this lucky family only has to go five, and pizza is even closer than that! With a two-car attached garage, an upstairs laundry and storage room, an extra storage room in the basement, and plenty of closets, this house has lots of room to store all those boxes of holiday decorations and paraphernalia.
It’s Christmas morning now, and the kids have run into the master bedroom just after dawn, and have scrambled onto the bed, along with the terrier and the Irish setter. Mom and Dad sit up sleepily, hugging the kids and trying to avoid wet doggy kisses without hurting doggy feelings too much. As their vision clears, they catch sight of the truly spectacular view of the Blue Ridge through the immense plate glass window directly across from the bed. It’s an experience that does not diminish with repetition. They look at each other, smiling — they know they have indeed found a home for the holidays.
So this house, fulfilling many of the requirements of my old-movie houses, is on the market now, and will become a holiday home for a new, very fortunate someone.
Wendy Gooditis is a real estate agent on the Chip Schutte Real Estate Team with ReMax Roots in Berryville. Contact her or Gooditis@visuallink.com or at (540)533-0840.