On the Block: Kayak Free with Purchase

On the Block: Kayak Free with Purchase


In advertising parlance, it is known as “Value Added.” It is that little something that comes “free with purchase” which pushes us one step closer to making the decision to buy. It works. Remember the Teeny Beanie Babies at McDonald’s? Cars lined up around the block to buy Happy Meals because with them came a two-inch toy stuffed with styrofoam balls.

It’s the “But wait” that is always followed by tempting and enticing phrases such as, “not only will you receive Charo’s Greatest Hits for this low price, but if you act now, you will also get the exclusive Charo’s Bloopers from the ‘Love Boat’ video.” As far as I can tell, this works too. I know I am all the more inclined to buy a tub of Australian miracle cleanser if I know that with it I am getting a travel tub “For Absolutely Nothing More.”

When Valerie Vantreese thought to “throw something in” with the purchase of her home on Goodrich Avenue, she chose the item she knew would most appeal to someone like her – a kayak. When she first showed me the four kayaks neatly shelved on the wall of her garage, saying, “I want to give a free kayak to anyone who buys the house,” I thought she was kidding. “I’ll even throw in a lesson,” she added. She assured me that she was quite sincere.

Valerie loves kayaking. (I wondered, did she know sea kayaking is my hobby?) Valerie’s fiance loves kayaking. In fact, they met at a kayaking club meeting and they are going kayaking in the Grand Canyon for their honeymoon. I suppose she just wants to share her passion (and if it helps sell the house). Besides, it would be a shame to have to tear down the kayak shelves in the garage.

(I don’t know about you, but I would want the lesson after the closing on the house. If not, I can see it now – “Are you sure you want me to clean the shingles on the garage? Just put your paddle there, oops, sorry, you’ll dry off in no time, where were we? Ah, yes, the garage.”)

Moving from this house to another in a new neighborhood will be difficult, Valerie says, for many reasons: She loves the street, “which feels like Chevy Chase but has Nicholasville Road access.” She will miss her house because her children grew up here and because she has done so much work to customize it for her family’s needs. She reconfigured an awkward kitchen to allow passage from the den and created more counter space in the kitchen. A large center island provides plenty of work area and a stained-glass window in the hall allows light into the formerly window-less half-bath.

She also added much needed storage to the den with a wall of built-in bookshelves and an entertainment center in the living room, which houses a television, stereo and speakers.

A few years ago Valerie converted the attic to a bedroom for her son. Two spaces intersect to make a large T-shaped room with nine and a half foot cathedral ceilings. A skylight, ceiling fan and plenty of windows make for a surprisingly airy space. Another value added bonus is found here in this attic bedroom – a large drafting table that was built here and must remain because it will not fit down the stairs.

The most difficult thing to leave will be the back garden, which has evolved under Valerie’s care for 16 years. She pointed to a huge Japanese cherry tree by the back door. “I planted that when we first moved here,” she said, a little wistfully. Then she pointed out that while you can’t see it, the garden backs to Collins Bowling Lane. “It’s so quiet you can’t hear a pin drop,” she said with a get-it grin on her face.

Stats (Oct 4, 2001):

118 Goodrich Avenue

2502 square feet

4 Bedrooms

One and one-half baths

Built 1922-24