Smokin' Gun 

Renovated shotgun in Idlewild.

Shotgun houses have been hot for a while. In New Orleans they're highly prized as the first-time home-buyer's best option. Because they're small, they're usually the most affordable home available. Being freestanding, they offer more light and air than most apartments, and you often get a very manageable little yard in the deal.

In Memphis we're not blessed with the same quantity of shotguns as New Orleans, although, historically, we may have had as many. Our city government believes every first-time home-buyer deserves at least two or three bedrooms. It's obvious our replacement-home policy is blind to the national trend of smaller households and the growing single-homeowner market. So here shotguns are often bulldozed as "obsolete." Such a short-sighted policy only makes the remaining few more dear.

In Midtown shotgun houses are mostly found within a few blocks of South Cooper, either in Idlewild or Cooper-Young. More stand in older sections of North and South Memphis unrenovated, but with our current housing policy they're probably headed for the landfill. This shotgun is on a quiet, dead-end street off Central Avenue. It is adjacent to another that's practically its twin. The two, both recently renovated, are a treat and only make you wish for more.

The shotgun plan, though simple, is supremely adaptable, as demonstrated here. The kitchen was relocated from the rear to the front of the house. It's delightfully disarming to walk in from the front porch and immediately be in the center of activity.

The fact that this kitchen isn't shabby makes it quite welcoming. Countertops are thick Venetian gold granite. A narrow granite shelf atop the backsplash adds extra storage for often-used items like condiments and coffee mugs. A center island not only increases the workspace substantially but doubles as dining for intimate parties.

The second room has its original oak mantel, which has been stripped to the wood and still features its beveled mirror above. The fireplace surround and hearth have creamy Italian travertine stone that adds a subtle touch of elegance to this multifunctional gathering room.

The bedroom was relocated to the rear fourth room for maximum privacy. It includes an area that had been the back porch, so part of its ceiling slopes down from the house's standard 10-foot height. In addition to the slope, the ceiling in this room is all tongue-and-groove wood, and together they add a very distinctive, historical character. The bedroom opens out to a deck and a privacy-fenced backyard. There's even a separate studio building out back with its own inviting covered entry.

The third room was divided up to create a hall (large enough to accommodate a home office), a utility closet, and a spacious bathroom. The bath follows the elegant lead set by the kitchen with tumbled, black marble floors, creamy subway tile at the tub/shower, and a custom-built vanity. The vanity is made of a turned-leg table base with a top of black granite into which the bowl was cut. Most houses twice this price don't have half the level of elegant finish materials, and that's what makes this shotgun smokin'!

685 New York Street

750 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1 bath; $99,500

For sale by owner, Steve Webb, 351-0900

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