Skyline Boulevard upends standard real estate logic that says the higher the house on the hill, the grander the view, the steeper the price.
Which is not to say that upper Skyline doesn’t host some lovely homes with lovely views (and lovely rising values) — it does.
But the fact is, some of the choicest properties on Skyline congregate down-mountain, in the "flats" of the boulevard as it emerges from Arlington Avenue and then gently begins to climb.
One such property is 866 Skyline Blvd., atop a southern rise above the street, beyond white pasture fences and barbered green lawns. The home is known colloquially as the “barn house” because the central section resembles a classic two-story barn with a six-sided sloping roof.
"It’s always that house that people want to see," said J.P. Menante of Dickson Realty, who is listing the property for a bit less than $1 million as of posting date and time.
"People always ask me: 'Can you get me into the barn?' "
RENO Magazine asked; Menante agreed; and so the other morning, we made our way up the long drive to this patch of rus in urbe.
866 Skyline was built in 1955.
Over the years, several prominent Reno residents have lived there, beginning with violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr. — father of actor Efrem Jr., grandfather of actress Stephanie — who joined his daughter Maria in the house after he retired in 1955, according to "Efrem Zimbalist: A Life" by Roy Malan.
Later, members of the Paganetti gaming family and the Clark construction family called 866 home.
The style of the pale yellow house might roughly be called American country or American traditional.
With its rose bushes and vine-mantled chimney, its multi-paned windows trimmed in black shutters, its gravel walk and cluster of soaring birches, 866 feels like it might have been deposited from some ideal suburb: Darien or Lake Forest or Mission Hills.
Brick tiles mark a small foyer. Are they original? They seem like it — as do some nearby cabinets (the house brims with storage space). Recessed lighting, a wet bar and a finished basement are obviously more recent amenities.
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"Everybody that’s had the home has done something to continually modernize it," Menante said. These succeeding renovations feel integrated, the generations of the house cohabiting amicably.
The living room of 866 extends toward the boulevard. Its ceiling is gently vaulted, recalling the shape of the barn. White wooden panels — almost like wainscoting — contrast with walls rendered in one of several color schemes in the home in which blue colludes with gray.
The living room opens onto a capacious dining room that could easily seat double its current configuration, a table for eight. The dining room features polished oak floors and a wood-burning fireplace (the living room has one, too) framed by a stone-and-beam surround.
"This dining room is where you make memories," Menante said, recalling the many gatherings it has hosted through the decades.
French doors lead from the dining room to a small stone terrace used for al fresco meals in fine weather. Fiesta lights string the terrace; a weathered wooden bench squats beneath, carved with acanthus leaves.
The oak floors (and a paneled ceiling painted white) continue from the dining room into the kitchen, where they’re joined, among other appurtenances, by a double oven, a stainless steel hood and glass-front cabinets with crown molding.
The master suite occupies the ground floor of the barn, looking onto the lawns sloping down to Skyline Boulevard.
The suite, accomplished in gunmetal blue (so, more collusion), incorporates an office nook, a tiled master bath with an enormous shower, and a dressing room featuring vintage built-ins with fluted glass
Upstairs in the barn (technically, the hayloft), there are two bedrooms divided by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and a workout room (or third bedroom). The front bedroom supplies the best views in the house, of Peavine Peak.
Another bedroom lies in the finished basement two floors down. The bedroom’s largest closet is walk-in and then some — it originally was a wine room.
The backyard at 866 Skyline includes a partly covered brick terrace with curved outcroppings for patio sets and for beds planted with lavender and other shrubs. Wisteria climbs to the roof.
Across the yard sits a raised bijou playhouse (or dollhouse, if you like) in the same yellow as the mother residence. To reach the wee house, you climb stairs with white wooden banisters.
In front of 866 Skyline, down-slope and closer to the pasture fence, there’s a flourishing garden itself enclosed by a wizened split-rail fence.
Ah, country life. You could grown your own vegetables, pick them just before mealtime, then head inside to prepare. That you’d be doing so in a kitchen that likely cost more than the original purchase price of 866 Skyline, well, push that thought aside.
Why spoil your rustic idyll? Why disrupt the fantasy? The city can wait.