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posted: 6/2/2012 5:02 AM

On the Market: Country cottage in Barrington

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  • The home's cozy cottage appearance from the front hides this expansive area out back for entertaining.

    The home's cozy cottage appearance from the front hides this expansive area out back for entertaining.

  • The second-floor master suite opens to a private balcony overlooking the Barrington countryside.

    The second-floor master suite opens to a private balcony overlooking the Barrington countryside.

  • The finished lower level includes a recreation room.

    The finished lower level includes a recreation room.

By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

This country cottage, surrounded by lush acreage only five minutes from downtown Barrington and its train station, looks like it was plucked from the Irish countryside and placed here with its massive chimney next to the front door and white picket fence.

Built in 1951, it offers all of the charm of an earlier time, combined with updates provided by the current owners.

The fabulous gourmet kitchen sports custom cabinets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a breakfast bar and a pantry closet. The family room is comfortable and cozy, while the living room and dining room are large and gracious. Gleaming Brazilian cherry floors complement some rooms while the home's original maple floors still exist in others.

The second-floor master suite is simply breathtaking with its huge private balcony overlooking the Barrington countryside. You can also enjoy that view from the screened porch on the main level.

The finished lower level includes a recreation room, office and a bedroom with bathroom suite that could be suitable for a nanny or in-law.

Listing agent Teresa Steffen of Prudential American Heritage in Barrington is also the owner and she has endowed the home with lots of Irish charm, hearkening back to her childhood on the Emerald Isle. She offers more details about the house:

What is the hidden gem in this house?

"It is the versatility. The house has a layout that is nontraditional, but incredibly functional. It never feels too small, even when we have hordes of family visiting or all of the kids and grandkids over. Nor does it ever feel too large and vacuous like many houses in our area, even now that we're empty-nesters. Plus, when we want to get away from the visitors, the master suite is the perfect retreat. Whether enjoying a soak in the tub or coffee on the private deck overlooking the lush serenity of the rear yard, the tranquillity of the master suite can't be beat!"

What would your perfect buyer look like?

"The house is suitable for almost any type of buyer. We've experienced the house full of kids and family and really appreciated its multilevel living arrangements. We've also lived here as empty-nesters and appreciated the zoned heating and coziness the house can offer. Though we haven't used it, the property is zoned for animals, so horse lovers could have their stables on the property, too."

What surprises you most about this house?

"This house is incredibly functional and can be so accommodating for guests and entertaining, while maintaining its charming country feel. The way the house is set up isn't like anything else I've ever seen, but it really works. The layout makes the house appear cozy and smaller than it really is, but it is so deceptive. The property has such cottage charm from the front that you'd never guess what an entertainment castle it is in the back. We've hosted large events with ease. We've even had lengthy stays from extended family visiting from around the country and abroad and never felt overcrowded because this house just seems to expand to fit your needs. It has all the room and functionality of a McMansion, without feeling so empty when not in use (or having huge heating bills to heat all of that empty space). There aren't many houses that you can say that about."

What television character would be at home in this house?

"Monk would find peace in this house. Nothing is out of place and all the details have been addressed. It is neither too big nor too small -- it is in perfect balance. Even Monk couldn't resist the tranquillity of this property."

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