Price Point: Madison Valley Townhouse vs. Ames Lake Cabin

Welcome back to Price Point, our real estate column that sends you on two separate home buying journeys for the same listing price. This edition we look at two very different houses, built 45 years apart, in very different contexts. With a budget of $900,000, do you go for the roof or the dock?

House 1: A well-detailed Madison Valley townhouse

This three-bedroom house in Madison Valley is at the edge of the Central District, but still close enough to the ever-creeping Capitol Hill border. It has all the standard amenities of almost every townhouse built in the last 20 years – yes, it has a roof terrace – but it has a few extra details that set it apart from the pack.

Through an adorable front yard, the standard open concept living room, dining room and kitchen, plus a bathroom— are conveniently located at street level. That alone may be a tall order for any local townhouse, let alone one built in the 2000s. One of the focal points is the fireplace, with modern white brick cladding and two deep shelves. recessed, as well as a generous coat on top. A few floor-to-ceiling windows are also nice, as well as new bamboo floors. On the second floor are a couple of decent sized bedrooms, a full bathroom, and even a small laundry room.

The very top floor is just a loft bedroom, nestled in a slightly vaulted ceiling and offering direct access to the rooftop terrace, which offers both neighborhood and water views. A nifty feature here is a gas hookup for a grill, fire pit, or any other fire safety needs.

It’s the final unit of his complex, and in this case, that doesn’t just mean sharing a single wall – it’s actually bigger, and it shows quite tangibly. For example, it has a two-car tandem garage, which is currently used as a one-car garage and a store. There is also a large storage closet in the basement, allowing you to keep your garage free for band practice, studio space or whatever. It’s also less than a block from two different bus stops and practically across from the grocery store, so maybe you don’t need to put a car there at all.

In this place, you can just move in and go: it’s spacious, but without wasted space. Everything is up to date and tidy, and you can walk pretty much everywhere. The roof terrace makes it easy to get outside without ever having to mow the lawn, and the small low-maintenance front yard adds a little extra comfort separating the door and the street.

List of fast facts

List of prices: $875,000
Location: Madison Valley/124 24th Ave E, Unit D
Cut: 1,377 square feet, 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
Year of construction: 2008
Listing agents: Jeanine Burke and Jen Butler, Windermere

House 2: An eclectic cabin home on Lake Ames

Originally built in 1963, this cabin-like home has many identities. Although it technically has a Redmond address, this property is located in the small town of Ames Lake (population 1,524), closer to Carnation than Redmond proper. It has 50 feet of lake shore, a quarter acre of land, and a wild interior with fairy tale elements, mid-century modern artifacts, fixer-upper sections, and tons of little nooks and crannies. Also worth noting is the truly impressive amount of scalloped wood planking, both inside and out, regardless of the surrounding aesthetic.

The entry at the side of the house leads to the main kitchen and a large sunken living room with an imposing cathedral ceiling. Reaching to its half-timbered peak is a whimsical and beautifully maintained red brick fireplace. The hearth is recessed above a low bench, with a decorative brick vent above – and to the left, a small set of doors that could easily be either firewood or hobbit storage. A carved wooden mantle sits above the brick corbels, and even more brickwork rises above, with a lovely little leaded glass cabinet set inside. Turn around for a large terrace with a view of the lake. Step up to the front door level and a wood burning stove leads the way to a kitchen and lots of exposed brickwork.

Two open staircases with narrow carved banisters lead above and below. Step down to beach level for a little mid-century time capsule, with textured amber cabinetry and an original 1960s range, with matching yellow sink and range hood. There is a large corner stone fireplace here and a small half attic. The main feature of this room, however, is that it opens onto a grassy courtyard and the lake.

From the living room, reach a landing leading to the two bedrooms of the house. One has a window overlooking the lake. In the other there is a small shutter that opens onto the living room with a better view. Along with the bedrooms, another 1960s surprise: a full bathroom with original sink, tub and toilet in a color the makers called Red Tang.

Outside, find layers of patios, lawns and gardens, a low-banked waterfront and a dock for all your boating needs. It may be on a one-lane logging road, but it’s not too remote; it only takes about 10 minutes to start hitting grocery stores and gas stations.

This house is at a critical moment. Do you cut it down to the studs – keeping that big fireplace and salvaging the pristine 1960s finishes and appliances instead of letting them end up in the landfill – and start decorating from scratch? Or are you fixing what you can and dodging the conversation already going on in this house?

List of fast facts

List of prices: $895,000
Location: Redmond/3829 Ames Lake Ln NE
Cut: 2,120 sq. ft. / 2,753 sq. ft. lot, 2 bedrooms / 2.5 baths
Year of construction: 1963
Listing agent: Garla Allen, Redfin

Final remarks

Is this the biggest contrast we’ve ever had on Price Point? One is a tidy turnkey modern house in the city. The other is tucked away off the beaten path with a basement that will keep you busy with so many DIY projects – on a lakefront quarter acre with a dock. One is a 10-minute drive to the nearest grocery store; the other, a four-minute walk away. They both have, notably, cool (and completely different) fireplaces, but that’s about where it ends.

The townhouse is a step ahead of many similar homes, with its pleasant outdoor space, comfortable layout and spacious interior. You probably don’t make too many mental to-do lists just by looking at it. It is elegant, comfortable and was made according to a more up-to-date building code. Your journey is child’s play. You’re not even too far from a lake, just a long walk or short bus ride to Madison Beach.

The lake house, on the other hand, has a big personality and plenty of ways to make your unique dream plans come true. You have to care more about the creatures and the elements here, but that comes with the trade-off of being in a pretty natural setting. On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about your own little beach getting crowded on a sunny day.

So, are you taking out the grill on the roof or by the lake this summer?

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