By Josette Keelor
The Victorian house at 233 Blue Ridge Ave., Front Royal, dates to 1890 and sits on the second oldest street in Front Royal, but inside it's an eclectic mix of old and new. Owners Pablo Gutierrez and Scott Shutt have lived there for only three years, but visitors to the home would never know it.
One of the stops along the 2013 Virginia Historic Garden Tour, the house features cuckoo clocks Gutierrez has collected over the years and accents that Shutt finds at auctions.
Elsie Upchurch, chairman of the Warren County tour for the last nine rotations, said all four houses along the tour are from the Victorian period.
The other houses are the Wood House at 215 Blue Ridge Ave., the Cox House at 308 Blue Ridge Ave. and Maple Hill at 15th Street and Virginia Avenue.
She chose number 233, the Edward A. Green House, because "We just heard it was an interesting house."
"We do [the tour] every two years, we don't do every year," she said. Organized by the Garden Club of Warren County, the tour is too much work to hold every year, she said.
But the garden club has been working in other ways to make this year's tour special.
Upchurch said 46 visitors from Northern Virginia are planning on coming for the tour.
"Not very often we have a bus, but this year we do," she said. A window of Thomas H. Sayre Law Offices downtown is devoted to information about the tour and pictures that area artists created of the four houses. The pictures will be gifts for the homeowners, in thanks for their participation, she said.
"The window's all ours. There's nothing else in there to take away from it," she said.
Also, Main Street Mill, Main Street Deli, L Dees Pancake House and the Royal Oak Tavern have offered 10 percent off their purchases to those who show their tickets for the home tour.
The tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27, and proceeds will go to the Garden Club of Virginia Restoration of Historic Virginia Landmarks. The Belle Boyd Cottage at the Warren County Historical Society also will be open on the day of the tour.
"This is my ninth historic garden week," said Upchurch, 92. "I think it will be my last."
Gutierrez and Shutt said they didn't have to do much to improve upon the house when they moved in three years ago.
The kitchen was modernized already with stainless steel appliances and light oak wood cabinets. Shutt and Gutierrez stamped their style on the room with a rooster motif, and Gutierrez hand painted roses on a green plexiglass table and daffodils on matching chairs. Magnetic strips above the counter keep cooking utensils handy, and pots and pans hang from hooks beside a water heater room-turned pantry, its chalkboard door welcoming guests with "Enjoy ... Buen Provecho."
In the downstairs hall, a pine staircase leading upstairs from the hall divides the TV room to the right from the dining room to the left.
Shutt has guessed that the TV room was part of an early addition to the house, since the wood flooring on that side of the house is different from the rest. Upstairs, the addition includes a second bathroom built into a previous storage area, and, at the back of the house, Gutierrez's "man cave," which features his collection of six trumpets, a piccolo, a trombone and a baritone horn.
Most of the changes they've applied have been on the backyard. They restored the deck and stone patio and added in a raised herb bed complete with a headboard and gardens for tomatoes, string beans, strawberries and agaves.
Gutierrez said the two men weren't looking to buy a home when they decided to move from Annandale to Front Royal. They thought they would rent for a while, but then they fell in love with the Victorian.
"We were looking for a place downtown," he said. "It was just one of those serendipitous things."
Though the house expresses both of their differing styles, the rooms are pulled together with reds and greens, and on the walls the work of local artists express the homeowners' interest in the community.
In the dining room is a drawing of a pre-9/11 World Trade Center rendered in 2011 by late artist Patricia Windrow, who lived across the street from the couple.
Stained glass from Front Royal artist Shawn Patterson hangs in several windows.
Mostly, though, Gutierrez and Shutt go with what inspires them.
A mirror Gutierrez recently chose for the dining room was fading, so he glued on stained glass and shards from a broken Satuma vase to make a mosaic pattern of a tree.
Said Upchurch, "Everywhere you look, there's something interesting. You never see it all."
The Garden Club of Warren County will take part in the 80th Annual House and Garden Tour as part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27. Advance tickets are $20, available at the Front Royal Visitors Center, at 414 E. Main St., Front Royal. For tickets or more information, call 540-625-5788 or visit www.VAGardenweek.org.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or email@example.com
Tour in Winchester
The Little Garden Club of Winchester and The Winchester-Clarke Garden Club will sponsor Winchester's stop along the Historic Garden Week tour, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27.
Houses featured on the tour will be at 601 Dulles Circle, 1022 Heth Place, 1061 Breckinridge Lane and 549 Merrimans Lane.
Advance tickets are $22 at Classic Touch Interiors, Kimberly's, Simply Charming Boutique, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Museum Store and the Winchester-Frederick County Visitor's Center.
A box luncheon will be available for $15 by advance reservation only at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Museum Café from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include complimentary admission to the museum through April 28. Reservations are due by April 20. For more information, call 540-313-4077 or email Janet Sfeir at firstname.lastname@example.org.