It’s a relative rarity in Colonial-loving Williamsburg: a contemporary home, one with cathedral ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace flanked by cedar accent walls, and walls of windows. When Dorothy Coleman saw a photo advertising it for sale in 1998, she thought she could be looking at her new home. When she learned the nearly 2,500 square-foot home was located in Windsor Forest, a neighborhood of lush greenery and mature trees, she was sure of it. “It isn’t easy to find a contemporary in Williamsburg,” Dorothy notes. “So I knew this was it.”
Dorothy, then a philosophy professor at William & Mary, and her husband, Jim, then a professor at Northern Illinois University, had a commuter marriage that left the two constantly traveling between Williamsburg and DeKalb, Illinois. “At first we lived in an apartment in Williamsburg, but it didn’t feel like a home,” Dorothy says. “Plus, we were getting burned out from commuting back and forth and really wanted a place that would be relaxing when we were in Williamsburg.”
Coming Home to a Peaceful Place. The 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home, built in 1985 on a wooded, half-acre lot, offered the pastoral setting the couple longed for. Neighbors aren’t far away, but their homes are filtered images through the stands of trees. “It gives you a nice feeling of privacy, yet still feeling you belong to a neighborhood,” Dorothy says, noting that her home is on a quiet cul-de-sac.
“Another thing I love about this house is the low yard maintenance because it is so heavily wooded,” she adds. Between the mulched areas, azaleas, ferns, wildflowers, and other plantings, she has little grass to mow. In fact, after reading a book on moss gardening, Dorothy replaced most of her grass with a swath of colorful moss. “You can walk on the moss; it’s very resilient,” she says. “And it creates a mood of peace and serenity. You see a lovely moss carpet that stays a pretty Irish green in the winter.”
Dorothy also enjoys seeing the wildlife residing within Windsor Forest. “I love the fact that when I drive home at night and turn into my driveway I often see deer in my headlights,” she says. “I love being greeted by the deer.”
Bringing Nature In. The serenity of the natural setting extends into the home itself. A flood of natural light from sliding glass doors and banks of tall windows enhance the home’s peaceful character. “The living room window is three feet from the trees where the birds perch and I just love watching them,” Dorothy says. “I’ve even become an amateur bird photographer.”
That spacious living room includes skylights, a beamed cathedral ceiling, and a cedar and stone fireplace wall. There is a built-in wet bar on one end of the room, which, like other primary rooms on the main level, has hardwood floors. The light-drenched living room has three large windows as well as glass sliders that access the back deck.
The house offers main level living, with a master bedroom suite that features an accent wall of diagonally placed cedar planks, a large walk-in closet, an en suite bathroom, and a private entrance to the back deck. The main level also has a separate dining room, half-bath, laundry room, and kitchen. “The kitchen has a center island with a stove, so it’s great for standing around and socializing with the cook. People can have a glass of wine and you can tell them to grab a spoon and stir the pot,” Dorothy laughs.
The second floor has three more bedrooms, including one that Dorothy uses as an office. A loft/balcony overlooks the living room, and includes a cozy, window-lit space that Dorothy has used for a foosball game, but could also make a sunny reading nook. The home has excellent storage, with two hall closets plus an under-stairs closet on the main level, and two closets in the upstairs hallway; bedrooms also have closets, including walk-ins in the master bedroom and upstairs office.
Dorothy has fond memories of celebrations in her home, including a festive 80th birthday party for a family member and 40 guests; everyone fit comfortably in her home. She has often hosted Christmas morning breakfasts for extended family, and recalls a multi-generational party with adults socializing in the spacious living room while children played foosball in the loft/balcony that overlooks it.
The Windsor Forest Community. After Jim retired, the couple made Illinois their primary residence, and their Williamsburg home became their vacation place. They adopted a “snowbird” schedule, staying in Williamsburg during colder months and returning to Illinois for summers. When the couple was in Illinois, their Williamsburg neighbors would watch over their house there, even mowing their small patch of grass. In return, Dorothy and Jim allowed their Williamsburg neighbors to park a car or store items in their huge, 3.5-car garage, which Dorothy jokingly describes as “the envy of the neighborhood.”
“I have had very good relationships with my neighbors; I love my neighbors,” Dorothy says. “Everyone is so generous and kind and social. I couldn’t ask for better.”
Neighbors of all ages often get together at the Windsor Forest clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, or playgrounds, or visit at one of the many social functions the volunteer HOA sponsors. Regular events include an Easter Egg Hunt, July 4th parade, and Labor and Memorial Day picnics. Christmas is especially fun in Windsor Forest; neighbors compete in a decorating contest and there are neighborhood parties and caroling. The HOA also sponsors monthly Windsor Wine Wednesdays and Ladies’ Luncheons held at the clubhouse. Read more about Windsor Forest here
Location, Location. The neighborhood is conveniently located within a mile of the Old Towne Square shopping center, home to stores and several restaurants. “There is an incredible pharmacy there that offers amazing service; they even know your name,” Dorothy says, noting that the shopping center is walkable from Windsor Forest. “There’s also a fresh fish shop near Old Town Square that is very good. Once I wanted to make bouillabaisse from scratch and they gave me the bones and heads to make the broth.”
The local public high school, Lafayette High School, busses Windsor Forest teens but Dorothy says kids could walk there. The neighborhood is about a 10-minute drive to Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary.
Dorothy has decided to make Illinois, near family and friends, her retirement place. She chose John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf to help sell her much loved contemporary in the woods after interviewing three real estate agents. “I knew him to be a top selling agent with Liz Moore, the top selling real estate agency in Williamsburg. During my interview with him, I was impressed by his confidence, professionalism, and practical know-how together with his friendly and supportive demeanor,” Dorothy notes. “As a resident of Windsor Forest himself, recommended to me by trusted neighbors, he seemed to be in the best position to represent my home and community to potential buyers.”
Psst. I’m a real estate agent.
Want to see this home or others in the area ? You can text or call me at 757-254-8136 or email [email protected]
This post was authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Hampton Roads/ Richmond VA area and his expertise helping buyers and sellers in the local real estate market.
If you are a 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 Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, VA Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight Poquoson as well as Richmond.
You can reach me by phone at 757-254-8136 or email [email protected]
I look forward to serving your real estate needs!