A long kept vision is breaking ground in this niche Pinehurst community
By Elizabeth Sugg Photos by Diana Matthews
Debbie Serino is in her first solo adventure as the developer of Linden Clos, a new subdivision off of Linden Road in Old Town, Pinehurst. “This is meant to be a niche community – it’s not gated, it’s not a country club but it’s in the historic district on sizable lots with custom-designed homes,” she says with excitement. A project Serino envisioned long ago when she purchased the 20-acre tract in 1989, it is not only close to her heart, she will “live here one day myself.”
The name “Clos” is tied to Serino’s very first experience selling real estate in 1985 working for a developer in Wellesley, Massachusetts, who had turned an old school house into high-end condominiums called Garden Clos. “It was a wonderful location, well-designed, and for me, a wonderful learning experience. I learned to not just sell real estate but was given the foundation on how to develop it.” Because Garden Clos was such a uplifting, well-conceived project, she named Linden Clos for it, hoping it will have the same mojo and success as its namesake.
“Clos” is derived from a French word for an “enclosed vineyard” that has garden walls on three sides and just one entrance. The British turned it into a term for a neighborhood with just one entry, and that is what describes the vision for Linden Clos. Serino has kept the British theme going by naming streets in the development Notting Hill Gate, Bond Street and Savile Row.
Kevin Bartlett of Bartlett Construction based in West End is the preferred builder. Featured is a recently completed custom home that Serino will be using as a model in the short term. There are 19 lots, and each one is .7 to just over an acre. They cost $210,000 to $219,000 which includes a transferrable charter membership to Pinehurst Country Club, the membership level that adds in courses 7, 8 and 9. Three lots have been sold with two already built upon, and she has just put three more on the market. Serino will control the pace of development – “you have to protect the quality of life.”
“The Master Plan is to mimic Old Town. There are no pre-selected plans for the development. We welcome custom designs.” The only requirement is that homes be at least 2,300 square feet.
The featured house is 3,628 heated square feet with three and a half baths and a two-car garage. “I liked the house plan because it’s kind of the best blend of a farmhouse and cottage,” says Bartlett. “It has an open feel, you walk into this grand entrance with the high ceilings and the crown moldings, and it just feels elegant.”
Bartlett likes the exterior of the house with its cedar shake siding. “Some people don’t choose them because they think of cedar shakes as needing more maintenance but you just have to reseal them every few years.” With an easygoing shrug to his shoulders, he adds, “To me it’s worth it.”
Off white brick steps and a brick rowlock surround the poured cement floor along each porch, the white accents and natural cedar color setting off one another. Twelve-inch white tapered columns draw the eye to the handsome porches along the front and the back of the house. Pine bead board porch ceilings with just a clear coat on top add a craftmanship of understated simplicity to these spacious outdoor living spaces.
Walk through the mahogany front door, and the warmth of natural light greets you. A split floor plan, the open areas in the front entryway and the living room boast ceilings that are 18-feet high, up to the second floor. Those high ceilings “give the opportunity to put in the high windows for natural light. And nothing makes a house look better than natural light, “ explains Bartlett.
Bartlett seems to have a gifted sense of proportion. Case in point, the columns mentioned along the front and back porches. Often you will see columns on houses that seem to miss the mark. Bartlett likes to make sure what he recommends to the owner will command the space, in his words, “Notice the feature but not be too big or too small.” Another place where he nailed proportion are the handsome crown moldings in the house; the 18-foot ceilings wouldn’t have the same refined, finished look without them.
The house features oak floors finished with a light stain. Wainscoting in the two front rooms adds a touch of elegance as do the transoms above each block of windows, flourishes that Bartlett will present to his clients that add character and interest to the completed space.
Wrought iron pickets with a textured design accent an oak banister with steps made of solid wood, the black echoing the wrought iron light fixtures throughout the house. Farm-style doors with a raised panel bead board are used throughout the house, adding to its friendly, cozy feel. Bathrooms feature granite sinks and stainless steel faucets and light fixtures adjacent to softly painted, light-filled bedrooms.
The open kitchen and dining area have a view of the back patio that features a built-in grill and fire pit. Black and white quartz countertops set off the clean lines of the white cabinetry and the stainless steel appliances (see page 76). Bartlett says “the market is shifting more to quartz because there are more options. It’s a little more expensive than granite but not too bad.”
Bartlett moved to Seven Lakes when he was in elementary school, and began building when he was in high school at Pinecrest. He built his first house at age 19 when he was working for another builder. He spent nights and weekends doing most of the work himself, and when he sold that house, those proceeds are what he began Bartlett Construction with in 2000. He calls himself a “blue-collar general contractor” because he’s “hands-on – there’s no foreman, it’s me.”
Similar grit is in Serino’s background as well. Armed with an accounting degree from Boston College, she began her work life at Coopers & Lybrand, a “Big 8 accounting firm” that merged with what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers. She quickly realized that she didn’t enjoy being indoors at a desk all the time, and she was attracted to real estate. In the Boston area that was very hard to break into with any success, so Serino got the Garden Clos job by offering the owner/developer six months of free accounting services in exchange for his taking her under his wing to help her break into the field. That passion and acumen has been with her ever since.
Locally Serino has been one of the developers of Cotswold Townhomes Phase II, and she was the original marketing developer for The Arboretum on Knoll Road which now has 193 houses. Linden Clos has an intimacy that puts this project in a different realm, and with its proximity to all that encompasses the outdoorsy lifestyle in Pinehurst, it has the makings to be quite a hit.