In the same year that Google was founded, the TV show “Seinfeld” came to an end and the highly acclaimed books “The Not So Big House” and “Eclectic Style in Interior Design” were published, Lois Baumgartner went with a friend and former neighbor to look at a new subdivision in Blacksburg. “She told me that she was hand picking her neighbors,” Lois recalls. “It was a Sunday, and Brookfield Village had a brick entrance, two gazebos, paved streets, sidewalks, town water and neatly marked plots. The mist was lifting off Brush Mountain on a little rise off the main circle that I thought would be perfect.” When she returned with her husband, Fred, later that afternoon, he conceded that if they could buy that plot, he’d consider it.
They had grown weary of 22 years in their in-town, 4-level “starter” home which backed up to a busy University City Blvd., and Lois had been saving her dream house plan for just this moment. They bought the lot with a west view across pastures and rolling hills to Brush Mountain in January of 1999. Building started in March, and they moved in September.
Fralin & Waldron of Roanoke designed this planned community, so Lois took her plans to their architect. “He wanted to make certain it would fit into the neighborhood,” she says. “The traditional design has a compact floor plan with about 2,800 square feet on two floors. The architect removed a dormer from an upstairs bedroom right off. I flipped the garage from the original plan, so the master bedroom would be in front toward the view.” Lois also asked for a bonus room over the garage finished as a combo office, sewing, craft, exercise space. She gave the architect dimensions for corner cabinets and antique pieces so window placement would allow wall space to accommodate the furniture.
Because of allergies, Lois chose wood floors for the first floor, and though they have a basement, she requested a main floor laundry room with a pass-through from the master bedroom. “This baffled the builders since they only dealt with laundry chutes from one floor to another. During construction, the pass-through “hole” laundry door had to be moved six feet to the left so it would line up with the lower base cabinet on the other side of the wall in the laundry room. We caught that just in time.” Though she was working full-time when the house was being built, Lois went to the site every day when she knew the building supervisor would be there.
She put five pocket doors in her plan so not to lose wall space due to swinging doors, and she worked with a kitchen planner who suggested the sink in a U-shape counter facing the mountain view. A few years after moving in, the builder wanted to place a two-story home 60 feet from their front door. “We bought that lot to protect our mountain view,” states Fred.
That they want to live on one floor was questioned by the architect, who observed that Fred and Lois were not that old. Lois laughs. “We don’t move often, and I plan to be carried out of this house. I knew what I wanted and never strayed from it.”
Charm exudes from every room of the home, where an eclectic blend of traditional, antique, international and country rustic get along well with soft wall colors, crown molding and a tiny touch of bright red in every room. There’s a Colonial appeal upon arrival at their slightly secluded setting. A white picket fence frames the front patio with a cherry tree for shade and potted flowers and the American flag or a seasonal banner for pops of color. Stepping through French doors into the living room brings one into a real “living” room, as this is their main “living” space. Fred often grades paper on the couch, and they both relax in front of the fireplace and TV. There’s no separate den or family room on the first floor, promoting efficiency of space.
The open, formal dining room is next to the living room with a bright, enchanting, well-organized kitchen beyond. It’s white with gray granite countertops, yellow and blue accent pieces and an antique wood table that beckons one to sit, chat and enjoy a cup of tea. Plantation blinds are built into window height shutters which open or close, and the view to the west is calming in any season..
The master bedroom features a high bed with black and cream linens, matching wingback chair and valances. Mahogany and brass furnishings round out an attractive Williamsburg style. The master bath has that little door with laundry basket concealed and another door opening to the laundry/mud room on the other side. Efficient, cute, functional.
A brick front porch facing west sports the requisite white rockers where Lois and Fred often spend summer evenings. Lois has a classic, authentic, warm touch in style that matches her personality. Her seemingly effortless decor radiates gracious living in casual comfort.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Natalie Gibbs Photography