- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2001

The Robinsons' home, a classic New England Colonial in Potomac on the market for $949,500, has all the standards and luxuries one might expect from a house in that price range, but two features set it apart a horse stable and bridle path, and a spacious two-story great-room addition.

The house comes with formal living and dining rooms flanking an inviting entry foyer and has a first-floor family room, a first-floor study and a modern kitchen with a breakfast nook. It also has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths. There is an in-ground swimming pool in the back yard, plus an in-ground hot tub with whirlpool. A stereo system has both indoor and outdoor Bose speakers.

All of that is appealing, but less expected is the presence of a horse stable, fenced paddock and bridle path. The house, built in 1978, is in the middle of what used to be Potomac Hunt Country, not far from the old Potomac Hunt clubhouse, which is now a private residence. The Potomac Hunt moved up-county to Poolesville years ago, but it left behind a system of bridle paths, and you can ride for hours and hours on them, Shivaun Robinson says.

The bridle paths are on easements through private property, she adds. "One time it was all woods and stuff, but now they go through residential neighborhoods."

One of the easements, a small segment of the bridal path, is at the rear property line of her 3-acre lot. A bridle trail association maintains the trails, she says.

Mrs. Robinson and her husband, Keith, bought the house in 1988 and in 1991 built a picturesque two-stall stable with electricity and water on the property.

"My daughter used to ride, and now she's in college," Mrs. Robinson says. "We no longer have horses."

Some neighbors do have horses, and although not many horse people are left in Potomac, someone on horseback occasionally rides by her property on the bridle path, she says.

The second feature that sets the Robinsons' property apart, the great-room, was added in 1997 to provide more room for recreation for the couple's three children, then teen-agers. A pool table in this room takes up only a fraction of the space.

Paneled in light pine, the great room has a two-story fieldstone fireplace and a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams. It has eight etched-glass French doors that lead out to covered flagstone porches and to the swimming pool with its aggregate pool deck.

A full bath in the corner of the great room has doors from both the great room and the pool area outside, so swimmers can use it without tracking water through the house. This bathroom is paneled in pine to match the great room, and it, too, has a vaulted ceiling. Its interior door has a half-moon carved into it in a modern adaptation of the old outhouse door.

A loft on the second floor provides three sides of the great room with balcony overlooks. The loft contains two rooms one is an office and the other is a combination lounge and exercise room.

"Instead of finishing the basement, I thought we'd get more use out of" the great room, Mrs. Robinson says. Thus, the basement remains unfinished but neat, with a concrete floor, cinder-block walls, five windows and two flights of stairs, one leading to the first floor and the other up to the two-car attached garage.

The house also has two flights of stairs from the first floor to the second one a formal oak staircase that rises from the foyer and the other a rear staircase near the great room.

The fireplace in the great room is one of three in the house. The other two are in the living room and the family room. Most of the living area of the house has oak floors, though the family room and great room have slate floors covered by carpeting.

The family room is paneled in dark oak and has a beamed ceiling. Built-in shelves enhance the family room, living room and study, which also has a wet bar. The living and dining room and first- and second-floor halls boast crown moldings and wainscoting. The Robinsons have a table that seats 12 in the dining room.

For informal meals, there is a large breakfast nook with a bay window off the kitchen. The Robinsons have a table there that seats eight. A breakfast bar with four stools sits between the kitchen and the great room and is a good place for snacks. The breakfast bar and counter tops in the kitchen are Corian, as is the top of a built-in desk at one end of the breakfast nook.

Off the kitchen is a large laundry room with doors to the garage and to the driveway. There is a walk-in pantry off the laundry room, and the kitchen has two pantry closets. Also on the first floor is a powder room.

The four bedrooms and three of the house's four full baths are on the second floor. The master-bedroom suite has two closets, one of them a walk-in closet with a window, plus a large linen closet. The master bath has a bathtub, separate shower and double vanity.

A second bedroom and one of the hall baths can be closed off to form a second private suite near the rear staircase and the loft overlooking the great room.

Mrs. Robinson says she and her husband are selling the house because their children are grown and they no longer need so much space. "But," she says, "it's a great neighborhood to raise kids in. The neighborhood is absolutely fantastic. The people are extremely friendly. That's going to be the hardest thing about moving."

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