This house is well hidden in a quiet neighborhood south of Audubon Park. It's a one-story contemporary, with all the public spaces arranged around the kitchen, with the bedroom wing discreetly placed. It looks to be a custom design with very thoughtful siting, layout, and detailing. The backyard landscaping is divided into three separate courtyards, one off of the living room, the den, and the master bedroom.
The siting begins with a lot nicely elevated above street level. Large oaks appear to be original front-yard landscaping. Underneath the oaks is a later planting of dogwoods, oak leaf hydrangeas, and evergreens, which now screen the house from the street below.
A winding drive leads into a large circular parking court and the main entry. A broad sweetbay magnolia is planted in the center of the court and screens the two-car garage, directing your eye to the recessed entry. Broad expanses of translucent glass on each side of the front door admit light while ensuring privacy. A bluestone porch floor flows into the entry foyer, as does the brick on the exterior walls.
The living room is the grand space here. The ceilings start at 10 feet and rise to 12 feet as they approach the rear wall, which is filled with glass. The view rises to the occasion. Plantings near the house soften a patio beyond. A low retaining wall is topped with ground cover and ferns. A mature Japanese maple stretches toward the house out of a backdrop of evergreens. Dappled light falls through, backlighting the maple, particularly effective when the leaves change color in the fall. A second, adjoining patio with another prominent maple is off the den.
The living room also has a floating hearth that, along with the firebox surround, is covered in small, glazed ceramic tiles. The floors appear to be largely original concrete and are carpeted. A modern option would expose the concrete, stain it, and seal it. An equally appropriate period treatment would be to install cork flooring instead. Either would allow furniture to float on area rugs in this open space. Walls appear to be plaster with a smooth finish, but the ceilings have a more hand trowelled, deeply textured surface.
The kitchen is a stunning period piece. It's all St. Charles cabinetry and obviously top of the line. Rather than the expected metal, the cupboards are square-edged overlay doors, finished in a pale gray plastic laminate. Brushed chrome detailing and pulls tie into the appliances. The refrigerator is built-in; so are the double ovens. The toaster oven is even built-in, just like the can opener. A large island holds the down-draft cooktop and offers seating for guests. The adjacent pantry has the laundry area and a built-in freezer and connects to the garage.
The bedroom wing is at the oppposite end of the house. The original plan had three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Two of the bedrooms have been combined to make an enormous master suite. Two large walk-in closets have plenty of custom cabinets. All of the baths have marble counters. The master bath has matching white marble on the floor and around the square tub and shower walls.
The master bedroom looks out to its own courtyard. All three of these exterior spaces tie together, but each can be used separately. From entry to master suite you are surrounded by a skillful layout that is well integrated with the outdoors while screened from neighbors and the street. It's hard to imagine a more private mid-century hideaway in mid-city.
976 Fair Meadow
Approximately 3,000 square feet
2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths; $299,999
Realtor: Crye-Leike, 766-9004 Agent: Gwen Flanikan, 240-4981