When Marilynn and Wink Harned left Northern Virginia for Williamsburg in 2015, a friend asked if they had outgrown Arlington, the Washington, D.C. suburb the couple had lived in for many years and never thought they would leave.
“We said, ‘No, Arlington outgrew us,’” says Marilynn, a retired scientific and technology librarian. “The Northern Virginia area had just become so congested, and one thing that was very appealing about Williamsburg is that it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get anywhere.
The decision to move south was driven by the couple’s desire to be closer to their son, who lives on Virginia’s eastern shore. Marilynn and her husband, Wink, a retired Navy oceanographer, had become intrigued with the idea of living in Williamsburg after a woman they met through friends raved about the city. “She talked about all the things that go on in Williamsburg, and they were all the things that I really loved to do in Northern Virginia,” Marilynn says. “Things like going to museums, and all the outdoor recreation. The Opera of Virginia is here and so is William & Mary. The Christopher Wren Association, a retirement learning program that offers 150 classes each semester, was also a draw.”
Marilynn and Wink had several major criteria for their Williamsburg home: it had to be a new single-family home, it had to offer one level living, it had to be low maintenance on yard work, and it had to be in a walkable neighborhood. Building a Mary Beth model one-level home in New Town’s Charlotte Park—where the lawn work is done by the HOA–offered all of that and more.
The couple’s first decision was where to build. “In Charlotte Park, you could only put certain houses on certain lots because they don’t want the same style or color homes right next to each other. The houses look like Savannah style cottages and they want them all to look different,” Marilynn says, adding that since the Mary Beth is one of the few models that is not two-story, it was very popular.
Marilynn and Wink loved the home’s attractive, low-country cottage styling, including its steep pitched roof and dormers, and its inviting, 21-foot front porch. “I love my front porch. A neighbor recently brought me a bottle of red wine, and said she knew I’d like it because she had seen me out on my porch enjoying a glass of red wine,” Marilynn says, laughing. Charlotte Park homes are designed to sit close to the street and include front porches in order to encourage neighbors to interact.
The Harneds also liked the home’s interior layout, which features a living/dining room as well as an open concept kitchen and family room with gas fireplace. The placement of the bedrooms–two guest bedrooms (one used as their office) in the front of the house and the master bedroom suite toward the rear–worked especially well. “When guests stay with us, they say that, with the way the bedrooms are laid out, they don’t feel like they’re under our feet all the time,” Marilynn points out.
Making a few modifications. The couple did make a few additions and modifications to the house plans in order to maximize their home’s function and appeal. The first was to add a 12’ x 17’ screened porch.
“We had neighbors across the street that had already finished their house and they let us come over to check it out as we were choosing our features,” Marilynn notes. “They had a screened porch and it was really nice, so we added one, too.” The Harneds’ large screened porch is accessible from both the family room and the master bedroom, and has become one of the couple’s favorite elements of the house.
“We like to read on the porch in the afternoon,” Wink says, noting he is also able to watch bluebirds that frequent the neighborhood. “We have a bird bath, and our neighbors have bird feeders and bluebird houses that we can see from my office and the screened porch.”
The couple also added more storage by moving a wall. “The model plans had the dining room about 3 feet longer, but we moved the wall to add a pantry closet. We use it for the hot water heater and for storage,” Marilynn says, noting that the living/dining room is still very large.
Finally, the couple eliminated a shallow niche on one wall of the family room in order to enlarge their master bathroom. “It was small; our neighbors used theirs for their piano, which we didn’t have,” Marilynn explains.”We decided to wall it up so we could revamp the master bathroom, which came with a tub and small shower. We were able to eliminate the tub to create a larger walk-in shower.” Marilynn points out that the guest bathroom has a bathtub.
Adding upgrades. The couple also upgraded various features to make the home truly theirs. They had extra recessed lights put in and hardwood floors installed in the bedrooms as well as the common areas. They added a blower to the family room’s slate-tiled gas fireplace so that it can help heat up the room. And they upgraded the kitchen with quartz countertops and a 5-burner gas stove, the better to serve Marilynn’s love of cooking. “I really like that there is just a high counter dividing the family room from the kitchen and that it is so open that when I’m cooking I can still see the TV or talk with people,” she says.
Hangin’ with the neighbors. Marilynn and Wink have only good things to say about their neighbors. They get together socially with couples on their street, as well as attend New Town neighborhood parties.
“On the first Friday of every month, one or two neighbors in Charlotte Park host people in their homes and everyone brings drinks or food,” Marilynn says. “It was organized by the neighbors—not the HOA– so that everyone could get to know each other. It has been a great success.”
The New Town Homeowner Association also makes it easy to build friendships, with activities at the pool—all residents can use it – along with numerous parties and club offerings, including a book club, a golf club, and a men’s club.
“The men’s club meets once a month at a local restaurant to discuss things common to the community and the county,” says Wink, who is a member. “It’s a good way to catch up on what’s going on locally.”
Marilynn enjoys the New Town walking club. “The group gets together every Friday at 8:30 am to walk,” she notes.
The New Town complex of neighborhoods is large– more than 1,000 residences— and includes homes, apartments, commercial and retail space, a small private school and several town green spaces, all within a pedestrian-friendly design. The Charlotte Park neighborhood – the first community of single-family homes in New Town–has about detached 150 homes. “Its a cross-section section of ages,” Marilynn points out. “Retired to young – a good variety.”
So much to do close by. The Harneds have discovered there are numerous excellent recreational and cultural activities close to home, many within walking distance of Charlotte Park.
“This neighborhood is extremely walkable,” Marilynn says, noting she walks to restaurants (her favorite is Corner Cafe), shops, grocery stores (including Trader Joe’s), and even a Regal movie theatre, all along sidewalks that make the journey very pedestrian friendly. “We had always lived in that type of environment even in Arlington; walkability is very important to us.”
“There is a fantastic rec center, the James City County Recreation Center, about 2.5 miles from our house,” Marilynn adds. “I always thought Arlington’s programs were really good, but this is just amazing. They have an indoor track, yoga classes, a spin room, a pool, and loads of water aerobic classes.” Marilynn and Wink visit the center several times a week; they both take water aerobics and balance classes, and she does yoga.
Marilynn and Wink also attend programs offered at the Williamsburg Regional Library, located within 3 miles of home. “For example, last week we went to a talk by the curator of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond about the Faberge eggs exhibit,” Marilynn says. “She gave a great talk. It’s a very active library.”
The couple also enjoys activities in nearby Colonial Williamsburg, such as concerts at Merchant’s Square every Wednesday during the summer.
Moving on. Earlier this year, Marilynn, curious about home sales in the area, checked out the website of John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf, and was impressed with the content. When she and Wink decided it was time to move, and she was arranging interviews with three realtors, she included John.
“I really liked his personality and his plan; I felt really good about his approach,” she says. “John is very positive, and he knows this area and the community.” It also turned out that John had represented the Harned’s neighbors when they bought in Charlotte Park, and they highly recommended him.
As Marilynn and Wink look forward to their new retirement home, they reminisce about the good times they have had in their Charlotte Park cottage.
“I remember when we had a football party here. We went to see William & Mary play Maine because my sister’s niece’s husband is the coach of Maine and he got us tickets,” Marilynn recalls. “My sister came from New Hampshire, my brother came from Arlington, and my son and his family came for the day. I cooked for them–I think it was pork chops. It was a great weekend. We have had some great times in this house.”
What I Love About this Home
One story living makes this charming, low-country cottage style home easy to upkeep inside, while HOA maintenance of residents’ yards eliminates the need for outside work. The layout of this Mary Beth model, including guest bedrooms located in the front of the house while the master suite is toward the back, is perfect for preserving private spaces when house guests visit. The large screened porch is a great spot for reading or watching the many bluebirds that populate the community. Charlotte Park residents enjoy all of the New Town amenities and HOA activities, including pool, parks, trails, clubs and social events, and to get to know each other better, they hold Charlotte Park monthly potlucks. Virtually all outside necessities–including grocery stores, shops, restaurants, and movies—are within walking distance via pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.
Check out the New Town neighborhood here!
Pss’t I’m a real estate agent
This website is authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Richmond/ Hampton Roads area and his expertise helping buyers and sellers in the local real estate market.
If you are an area homeowner searching for someone innovative to sell your home I would love to share my thoughts on marketing. You can read some of the stories I have written about the homes I have sold here.
Additionally, I have helped hundreds of folks find their dream home/ community and would love to help you find yours in the Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, VA Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Poquoson and Richmond VA area.
Want to tell your home’s story? Or find your dream home/ neighborhood in the area Contact John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf at (757) 254-8136 or John@MrWilliamsburg.com and we’ll get you started.
To schedule a visit to see this home or others in the Williamsburg or Hampton Roads VA area call/text 757 254 8136 or email John@MrWilliamsburg.com
I look forward to serving your real estate needs!