Renovator's Despair 

Circa 1907 Victorian in Lenox.

This wonderful house stands in the Lenox subdivision between Cooper and East Parkway. The area has been developed for more than a century, with lots of Queen Anne cottages and a few other Victorians. This cottage seems more like the earlier, vernacular Victorian, with its center door and broad front porch. But it has lots of late-Victorian touches, such as turned porch columns, cedar shingles in the upper gables, and decoratively cut bargeboards under the eaves.

It's clear that this house has been completely renovated. The walls and ceilings are all smooth, finished sheet-rock, and the floors are darkly stained oak, instead of the plaster cracks and heart pine I thought I would find. The tall windows have wide, Eastlake mouldings with bull's-eye corner blocks. The doors are newer, but many of them are faux grained to look like stained wood, an unexpected luxe touch.

The rooms are spacious, and the 11-foot ceilings on the first floor don't hurt. The living and dining area is a generous 15-by-25 feet, centered on a wood-burning fireplace. There is even an entry hall where the staircase rises to the finished attic. A home office, bedroom, and full bath are tucked up there. The steep roof pitch allows for high, sloping ceilings that make these rooms feel larger than you'd expect.

Downstairs are another three bedrooms, two baths, and a back hall with a laundry and lots of bookcases. The master bedroom is set in a discrete wing off the rear and has a bath en suite, fitted out with pedestal sink, makeup area, linen closet, and classic, cast-iron footed tub. The master also has a full wall of closets and its own access to the rear deck. By now, you've probably figured out that there's not a lot of work to do on this house, except a new paint job if you don't like the colors.

The kitchen has been redone in the last two years. There are tall painted cabinets with a glazed finish. The countertops are a richly colored granite with lots of quartz, which sparkles under the low-voltage halogen lighting. There's a deep undermounted sink, faucets in a rubbed bronze finish, and all the other expected bells and whistles. The kitchen has an efficient layout, and while a dozen people can't gather in the space, it opens to a really fab deck that would easily accommodate two dozen folks.

My favorite spot may be the back porch overlooking the very private backyard. The porch has a railing built to resemble a sawn-board fence, with softly concave curves formed by the pickets between each post. The porch and yard are sheltered under a large red oak. Wide brick walks lead to an enclosed play area that would make a fine vegetable garden if you are beyond the swing-set stage. There's also a two-car garage with a fenced driveway and electric gate. This whole property is in such great shape that any renovator looking to tear out stuff will surely despair.

2204 Harbert Avenue

Approximately 2,550 sq. ft.

4 bedrooms, 3 baths; $289,000

Realtor: Hobson Co., 761-1622

Agent: Ellie Bennett, 312-2959

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