The view from the south-facing wall of windows says a lot about why Donald and Mary Ann Behnke chose to build their dream home on this spot overlooking Lake Anna. All they needed to do back in 2000 was stand on the lot and imagine the house they would build around them.
The house they moved into in 2001, at 5807 Blue Ridge Road in Spotsylvania County, has provided them with 17 years of enjoyment, from taking advantage of the lake for recreation to sharing with family and friends a house made for entertaining.
Once the lot was selected, it was suddenly fortuitous that Don Behnke had stayed in touch over the years with his second-grade friend Dave Haufe, who grew up to be an architect. Haufe may have settled near Chicago, but he agreed to design the Behnkes’ new Lake Anna home.
“He told us to go through magazines and pick out rooms we liked,” Behnke said. “He said he’d be able to tell from the pictures what we liked and what we were looking for.”
And then he proposed an arrangement. “You pay my way over there for a fishing trip [on Lake Anna] and I’ll take a look at the lot and design your house,” which to Behnke sounded like a pretty good deal.
The house they came up with is a contemporary design with 5,800 square feet of living space on two levels. It has five bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half-bath. The 1-acre lot provides about 350 feet of shoreline frontage.
The Behnkes have decided that despite how much they love their home and its lakeside setting, the prudent plan is to move closer to family out west and downsize a bit. They’ve listed the property with Liz Wilson of Long & Foster Real Estate at Lake Anna. The asking price is $999,999.
Though their architect was in Chicago, the Behnkes were otherwise committed to using local contractors and suppliers for the project. Behnke called on Dick Dickens of Lake Anna Building Design in Bumpass to turn Haufe’s plans into a design blueprint, and then brought in Nelson and Terry Hale of N.E. Hale Construction in Orange as the general contractors.
The Behnkes liked the idea of using local contractors generally, but especially because they’re familiar with building homes at Lake Anna and have the experience necessary for a successful outcome.
The property is located at the west end of Lake Anna, not far from where the North Anna River feeds the lake. The Behnkes say the water here is free of contamination or algae issues. At the end of the Behnkes’ short dock, the lake is about 8 feet deep under normal conditions.
Don Behnke points out that the driveway brings visitors to what is actually the back of the house, which has a modest appearance save for the impressive main, double-door entry and the tall, angular roof overhang. There is space for parking here and the two-car garage is just to the left.
Step into the large, tile foyer and eyes widen to take in the soaring three story main living area with windows that offer a lake-to-sky view. That makes the great room indeed a great room that includes a seating area around the fireplace and big-screen TV, the carefully designed kitchen and the dining area, all with panoramic water views.
The south-facing great room windows invite passive solar warmth that keep heating bills in check all winter long. Framing is 2 by 6 to allow for added insulation.
Behnke said that because of the great room’s wide expanse, steel post and beam construction was used. Structural engineers said the arrangement would provide more support than actually needed. That turned out to be fortuitous as well when the earthquake hit on Aug. 23, 2011. The epicenter was just eight miles due south near Mineral, but there was no sign of damage anywhere to the house.
In the great room and throughout the house, an extensive lighting package from Commonwealth Lighting in Fredericksburg provides just the right light for whatever the activity. Behnke said nearly every light is on a dimmer.
The kitchen features a granite island and counters, along with honey maple cabinetry. The blend of black and stainless steel appliances and the tile backsplash create a handsome look with the hardwood flooring.
The home’s eastern wing includes a study with gorgeous built-in cherry cabinetry by Steve Smith of Commonwealth Cabinetry in Louisa. Behnke calls it his favorite room in the house.
Interior doors throughout the house are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through.
A hallway continues to the master suite with a lake view from the sleeping area. The tile master bath features a large jetted tub, separate glass shower and dual vanity. Natural light comes in through a solar tube that connects from the roof to the bathroom ceiling.
Also at this end of the house is the laundry room with granite folding counter, cabinets and laundry sink. Access to the garage is nearby. It has space for two cars, a workbench and accessible storage space above. The floor is epoxy-coated.
On the other side of the main level are two secondary bedrooms that share a hall bath. One of the bedrooms has direct access to the deck that overlooks the lake.
The lower level is a welcoming space with walkout access to the yard, shoreline and boathouse. The focal point down here is the custom-built cherry bar and cabinetry, designed and built by Hank Bilek of Renaissance Cabinet Shop in Louisa. The bar area has a wet bar sink, microwave and pendant lighting.
There’s a seating area that looks out over the water and a Jotul brand wood stove to provide ambience and heat.
Other rooms in the basement can fill any number of needs. There is a workshop, a hobby room that could become a spare bedroom, and a pre-wired space that is ready to become a home theater. There is also a full bathroom with a spacious, multiple spray shower.
A utility and storage room has a spare freezer, the well water treatment system and a large water heater. Central heating and cooling is provided by a two-zone system.
Also downstairs is access to a separate equipment garage which is deep enough to house two cars and also holds a workbench.
This is a property where people will spend plenty of time outdoors. The deck wraps around the lake-facing side of the house and has an electric awning for cover.
There’s a boathouse for equipment at the dock, which was built by Jeff Remmers of Lakeside Improvements in Bumpass. The dock is ready to be expanded with another “L” for additional boat parking.