Big and bigger: A sprawling home in a spacious Ivy landscape

Photo: Lincoln Barbour Photo: Lincoln Barbour

What’s the difference between grand and grandiose? Anyone trying to make the distinction would do well to take Clouds Hill Farm as an example. Impressive in size, it’s nonetheless laid-back, not caring too much what we think of it—which is, somehow, a key to its appeal.

Here are the facts: On 35 acres in Ivy (and yes, that is your basic Great Location) sits a house that was once a barn. Built in the 1870s, the structure became a residence in the 1950s and, though it was already the size of, well, a barn, it’s gained additional space since then. The result is a home that is truly enormous: nearly 10,500 square feet, a size that feels at times almost bewildering.

Yet look at the front façade: The house appears to be no larger than the typical entry in a new subdivision. It doesn’t flaunt its size at all. Venerable oak trees, some unusually close to the house, and mature plantings soften the effect; the natural wood exterior blends with the surroundings; and the roofline is low. Only the entry, with its smart bright-red door, makes a definitive statement.

Photo: Lincoln Barbour
Photo: Lincoln Barbour

Once you start to move through the interior, though, it becomes clear that this place is actually rather vast. The rooms are mostly large; there are many of them, including six bedrooms; and there’s a quality of endlessness to the way the hallways and closet doors and built-in shelves keep on coming as you explore the two and a half floors.

So what are all these spaces like? Befitting its origin as an agricultural building, there’s lots of natural wood, on floors and walls, and the original hand-hewn posts and beams stand in all their glory. The great room fireplace is made of massive, rough chunks of stone. In a powder room, a hunk of soapstone has been fashioned into a sink. You’ll notice many charming details, little moments of color and texture that add character to the mostly neutral palette, like a closet door with salvaged hardware and a weathered green finish.

The other factor that’ll get many hearts racing is that the views through the house’s many windows are completely seductive. Just beyond a large stone patio are acres of pasture enclosed by board fences, a pond and glimpses of the other structures on the property (a poolside cottage and a horse barn being the major ones). Ultimately, the eye finds the distant mountains.

So it’s all rather easy to love. Of course, one needs to consider the implications of so much interior space. Here’s where “grand” starts to shade into “grandiose”: a master bathroom that’s almost 22′ in length. It’s a beautiful room, with an unusual metal tub and numerous windows that give it a treehouse feel, but it’s almost comically large.

While most individual rooms don’t feel oversized, the sheer proliferation of bedrooms, balconies, seating areas and closets is on a scale way beyond what most families are used to. It’ll take a certain kind of buyer to confidently inhabit such a palace.

The same family has lived here for more than three decades, so the house feels lived-in and, in places, ready for some updates. The wing of bedrooms that’s opposite the master suite, in particular, is a little dated and a lot banged up by kids.

Challenges aside, Clouds Hill is a special place. This house is artsy, casual and almost California-like in its familiar connection to the outdoors. Whoever becomes its next steward will have a gracious and unique place to call home.


Address: 1685 Owensville Rd.

MLS#: 533616

Year built: 1951

Bedrooms: 6

Bathrooms: 3.5

Square footage (finished): 10,453

Acreage: 35

List price: $3.9 million

Posted In:     Abode,Magazines


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