Katie Kullberg wanted nothing to do with Virginia. She had lived in Michigan all her life, her family was there, and her first child was less than a year old. The idea of moving to Virginia’s Hampton Roads area so that her then-husband could pursue employment there did not make her happy.
“We looked at every single place in the area — Virginia Beach, Surry, Suffolk, Gloucester, Smithfield, you name it,” Katie says. “I went back home and said, ‘I don’t think I can do it. I don’t like it there, and I want to stay in Michigan.’”
Despite her reservations, Katie went back to Virginia once more, bringing her parents for advice and support. Her realtor brought them to Williamsburg’s Berkeley’s Green community, and this time Katie fell in love.
“All the yards were manicured, and there were big trees everywhere,” Katie reminisces. “People were outside watering their lawns and it made me feel like I was home.”
With directions from a “super nice guy watering his lawn” (he later ended up being one of Katie’s neighbors), they found the Berkeley’s Green community club house and pool, amenities that Michigan communities usually don’t have.
“We walked up and there was a nice little gazebo along a pond,” Katie says. “We saw a little fountain, and the pool, and I said, ‘OK, this is it. I’ve found the place where I’m happy, and this is where I’m going to live.’”
The couple moved into a two-story home with a classic layout: family room on one side of the center hall and dining room on the other, leading to a kitchen overlooking a deck and a beautiful back yard with mature trees. Upstairs were four bedrooms plus a bonus finished room above the garage (FROG).
“We walked in, and it just felt like home,” Katie says.
Creating Her Happy Place. A year later, after a memorably large crop of locusts, Katie screened in the deck.
“We had such a big yard and so many trees that it was insane; I was sweeping locusts off the deck every day,” Katie says, laughing. “I looked at my husband and said ‘I’m not living here another year unless we screen this in.’” The deck was screened, lights were strung, ceiling fans were added, and it was transformed into the heart of the home.
“It was our happy place,” Katie says. “That’s where my ex-husband and I would sit when the kids were in bed. We’d have a glass of wine and say, ‘Yes, this is a good place, our happy place.’”
At one point, Katie considered putting a pool in the back yard – it is big enough — but she just couldn’t bring herself to take down all the trees. Instead, she installed a play structure and a full-size soccer net so her three children could play soccer there. Most of the home’s rooms, including the family room, kitchen, and FROG, offer views of the green canopy of the back yard.
Family Living. Inside, the family room is the hub for family activity. “It’s where my kids go when they come home and we all hang out. There’s a wood burning fireplace, and one of my kids’ favorite things is to start a fire and watch a movie. It’s also where we have our Christmas tree and celebrate holidays.”
Another gathering place is the FROG. “We put in a TV, and bean bag chairs, and bunk beds; the kids love to hang up in the FROG,” Katie says. “And both sides of the FROG have lots of closet storage; you can actually walk through it. In our Michigan house there was never enough storage and you felt like there was stuff all over. But storage in this house is more than adequate.”
Meeting the Neighbors. Katie moved to Berkeley’s Green in August 2005, and her daughter turned one-year-old in October. “It was hard because my family was in Michigan; we had no one here,” Katie recalls. “But I felt like we needed a one-year birthday party for her. So, I put invitations in the neighbors’ mailboxes and they all showed up! One brought her a little tierra and it was really nice. That’s one of my favorite memories about living here.”
That celebration was just the first of many Katie has enjoyed with her cul-de-sac neighbors. One of her favorite neighborhood events is the cul-de-sac’s annual Rib Fest held around the Fourth of July. “We have a contest on who can cook the best ribs, and one neighbor who does woodworking always makes an award for that. It’s just special, and something I look forward to every year,” she says.
The neighborhood is very family-oriented. “I don’t have a basketball hoop at my house, but there’s one at the end of the cul-de-sac, and my kids are down there for hours on weekends and after school,” Katie notes. “And our neighbors are totally fine with that.”
Community Amenities. The pool and clubhouse, gazebo, “awesome playground,” tennis and basketball courts, and pond are all within walking distance of Katie’s house.
“The little pond outside the pool is where my kids go down and catch minnows during the summer,” Katie says. “There are turtles and frogs and lots of birds, such as cranes.”
The neighborhood also has a walking trail, normally a great place to walk, jog, and bike, but also a delightfully scary place to be on Halloween.
“Every Halloween, the HOA puts on a Haunted Trail,” Katie explains. “People get dressed up and scare all the kids walking through. At the end, they serve punch and cookies. My daughter was part of it for first time two years ago, and just loves it.”
Other HOA-sponsored activities include an Easter egg hunt, and a Christmas visit by Santa. “About a week before Christmas, they drive Santa around on a trailer and blast music and the kids all jump on the trailer,” she says. “The kids can talk to Santa, so you don’t have to take them to the mall.”
Katie likes the neighborhood’s proximity to shopping and recreation. Her home is just a bike ride away from the Jamestown Settlement memorial museum. And, Katie, who works primarily from home doing marketing for a childcare company, can get to shopping and restaurants at New Town with a five-minute drive.
Moving On. Katie is engaged to be remarried and her large, blended family is moving to a new home. Realtor John Womeldorf, who is friends with her fiancé, has been helping them with the process.
“At first, we were going to build an addition to my fiancé’s house, but John came by and told us about a house for sale in my fiancé’s neighborhood that he thought we should see,” Katie notes. “We looked at it and knew it was ours.”
“John is the most amazing realtor I’ve ever worked with,” Katie adds. “He knows everybody and wants to be sure both the buyer and seller are happy; just the other day, I found he had people at our new house power-washing our driveway. When I’ve needed help with something, he always has someone to recommend, and every single person he has sent me has been reasonable and did a great job; I trust them all. John is the best.”
As Katie prepares for her own new chapter, she has a vision for the next family that will call Berkeley’s Green home.
“I envision that the people who buy my home will be a younger family that will just appreciate the neighborhood, and the yard, and the play structure, and all the nature that’s there, and that we have enjoyed so much.”
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