- - Thursday, May 3, 2012

When prospective homebuyers make a wish list, they don’t often include an observatory as a top priority, but having one in your backyard certainly could be fun. The home at 1826 Great Falls St. in McLean, on the market for $965,000, has an observatory and plenty of fun features that make it completely different from the average property in McLean.

The home started life in 1931 as a Sears catalog house, one of thousands of residences built around the nation from mail-order plans. Homebuyers or builders could peruse the Sears catalog for preferred floor plans and features, then either have the home built with local materials, or, more commonly, have the materials delivered to the lot for construction.

This McLean arts-and-crafts-style home retains some of the original design elements of the catalog home but was expanded and transformed in 2003 into a property with five bedrooms, five baths and a backyard built for entertaining.

The home rests high on a hill, set back from the road and shaded by tall trees for privacy and peace. The brick-and-siding exterior instantly charms visitors with its wide front porch and half-moon window on the second floor. A white railing and white latticework on the foundation frame the front porch, which includes an inviting swing that conveys with the property.

Surrounded by a .39-acre lot, this home may be enjoyed best in the summer months, using double sliding glass doors to go from the great room onto a deck with a trellis. A few steps below the deck are a slate patio with a built-in barbecue and an in-ground swimming pool. The fully fenced yard includes a storage shed and the observatory, which has a retractable roof for stargazing. The backyard also has a lawn and garden beds.

This property has plenty of attractions inside, too. The curving front door opens into a vestibule with the original arched doorways leading into a formal living room with a chandelier and a decorative radiator. Nearby is the formal dining room, which has chair-rail molding, a chandelier and windows on two sides.

The expanded section of this home includes the kitchen and the great room, which has a vaulted ceiling with beams and a dramatic stone wall with a wood-burning fireplace with a wood-stove insert and an oversized stone hearth. The great room also has a ceiling fan and the sliding glass doors to the deck. At one end of the great room is a breakfast nook with a bay window.

The original Sears catalog kitchen has been converted to use as a butler’s pantry with wainscoting, cupboards and a former ironing-board cabinet that is now used as a spice nook.

The kitchen addition features granite counters, ceramic tile flooring, a center island with a breakfast bar, pendant and recessed lighting, and such practical details as a roll-out trash bin. Appliances include a five-burner gas stove with two electric ovens, and a built-in microwave.

The main level also includes a bedroom with built-in bookcases. Adjacent to the bedroom is a full bath with a blue diamond motif, a pedestal sink, wainscoting, a laundry chute and a Tiffany-style lamp.

This level also has a laundry/mudroom with a sink, built-in cabinets, a closet and a door to the garage. The garage has extra storage space and a door to the backyard.

Upstairs, the oversized master suite provides a romantic retreat, with a wood-burning fireplace, soaring ceilings, a sitting area, track lighting, a ceiling fan and built-in bookcases. The suite includes a 16-foot walk-in closet as well as a double closet with mirrored doors.

The luxurious master bath includes a jetted spa-style tub, a stained-glass window, a steam shower with mood lighting and a vanity with two glass vessel sinks.

The second bedroom on this level includes a private full bath and a dressing area with a mirrored closet. The third and fourth bedrooms share an updated hall bath. In addition, the upper level has a bonus room to use as a den, home office or exercise room.

The unfinished basement has a full bath and plenty of space for storage or for future expansion as living space.

This charming McLean retreat has approximately 3,155 finished square feet, plenty of space for a growing family or for entertaining friends with a dip in the pool, a glimpse of the stars, a swing on the porch or a quiet conversation in front of the fireplace.


Address: 1826 Great Falls St., McLean, VA 22101


Age: Built in 1931

Price: $965,000

Size: Approximately 3,155 square feet on lot of .39 acres

Taxes: $8,098 in 2011

Homeowners association fee: None

Exterior features: Sears catalog single-family home with addition, brick-and siding-exterior, two-car garage, fully fenced yard, front porch, garden

Interior features: Five bedrooms, five baths, arched doorways, upgraded kitchen, great room with stone wall and fireplace, living room, dining room, first-floor bedroom and full bath, laundry/mudroom, master suite with fireplace and luxury bath, den or exercise room, unfinished lower level with full bath

Amenities: Swimming pool, deck, patio with built-in barbecue, observatory with retractable roof, two-zone heating and air conditioning, central vacuum system, gas heat and water heater

Close by: 1.7 miles to West Falls Church Metro station, convenient to the Beltway, Interstate 66, McLean, Tysons Corner and downtown Washington

Schools: Kent Gardens Elementary, Longfellow Middle, McLean High

Open house: 1 to 4 p.m. May 6

Contact: Realtor Leslie Hutchison of Fall Properties at 703/675-2188 or visit www.VirginiaHomeTeam.com



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