A Novel Appraisal 

Circa-1954 rancher on Shady Grove.

This one fools you. It looks small and dark at first glance. It's neither. A close look and you will notice low windows on the right front as the land slopes off. Over 1,000 square feet of this house open onto a grade at the rear. It doesn't count for appraisal purposes because Memphis is flat, so this space just doesn't exist. Ever read the novel Catch-22?

Anyway, it's not small. On the main floor there are four bedrooms and three baths. One of the bedrooms is more nursery (or home office) size, but two qualify as master, with large private baths and lots of closets.

Now about that dark impression: There are lots of trees in the front yard. They're large, healthy, and on the south side of the house. You can cut them all down. You'd get more sunshine, the grass would need mowing more often, and you'd pay a higher utility bill. You figure it out.

There's a cathedral-ceilinged sun room on the rear that's all glass on three sides. You can't see it from the street. It is completely private and designed and built by the architect Zeno Yates to be cool in the summer and keep toasty in the winter with a high-efficiency, European-style stove. It's about as bright a room as you can get, but there's no central heat and air out there, so, for appraisal purposes, it doesn't exist either. Joseph Heller would have loved this.

The kitchen and den run across the rear behind the open living and dining area. The layout's a bit dated, but there's space to open up the kitchen and den and even take in the dining area as a keeping room. The original living room, where the plastic-covered furniture and lamps were displayed, could be a grand dining room. That's a really good use for a formal living room no one dares enter anymore.

The kitchen and den are a bit dark from the solid-wood pine cabinets in the kitchen and paneling in the den. Some judicious removal of walls and a little paint could do wonders here. The original oak floors are lightly stained and in wonderful condition. There are fireplaces in both the living room and the den. Good stuff to work with.

Downstairs, in the rooms that don't exist, are a large playroom, a study with one wall covered in antique, glass-fronted bookcases (floor to ceiling!), a spacious laundry, a workshop, and a billiard room. The billiard room has a bar, a broken-tile floor, and a wall of glass out to the backyard.

There is also a large deck over a rear, double carport. The deck has built-in seating on three sides and looks out to a yard with specimen plantings that need but a little TLC. There is an arbor covered with grapes, a rear privacy screening of pines, and one of the largest Chinese Loropetalums in town. A little creativity is called for here, but the structure of both house and yard suggests this could be a stunner, at least, in this writer's novel appraisal.

4940 Shady Grove Rd.

2,700 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 3 baths; $295,000

Realtor: Sowell & Company, 278-4380

Agent: Gwyn Guess, 327-3508

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