By Becky Krystal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 7, 2010; F04
The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast exudes such grandness that my husband and I weren't prepared for its relatively inconspicuous entrance. So we drove right past it. Yes, there was a sign across the street. No, we did not see it.
A few quick maneuvers later, our car was headed back in the right direction. We paused in front of the narrow gate: Could we make it through?
Of course you could make it through, owner Mike Bedsworth assured us after our safe passage. Construction trucks had been able to enter unscathed during the inn's extensive renovation. We were in a Toyota Corolla.
The trucks would have had no problem parking themselves anywhere inside the house, either. High ceilings and large rooms are among the charms of the 1878 Italianate mansion in Lynchburg that Mike and his wife, Kathy, spent years meticulously restoring.
Their attention to detail shows. When we arrived, Mike gave us a brief history of the building and its original inhabitants, the Watts family. The man who built the house, Richard Thomas Watts, was a Civil War veteran whose business interests included hardware stores, coal mining and real estate. Each of the four rooms in the main house (two suites are in the circa 1909 carriage house) is named after a member of the Watts clan and decorated with period or reproduction furniture.
Mike led us to the second floor, up a dramatic spiral staircase. Among the work done to restore its grandeur was stripping off the white paint that had covered the wainscoting. Ouch.
Our digs for the night, the Mary Watts Room, greeted us with pink walls and a tempting sleigh bed. A variety of antiques filled the room without crossing into stodgy territory. I thought the old school desk was a particularly nice touch.
Normally, I chafe at the thought of not having a bathroom in my room. This time I didn't mind so much. Our bathroom was about two steps down the hall and reserved specifically for us. And the fabulous pedestal tub made up for any lack of convenience. The absence of curtains on the windows, however, prompted me to engage in an awkward dance in and out of the shower, though now I'd put the odds of passersby seeing anything up that high at slim to none.
I certainly appreciated the quiet of the bed and breakfast, a peace that the innkeepers try to ensure. Mike told us that he and Kathy had decided against putting televisions in the rooms because the sound would carry especially well through the doors between the bedrooms, which had originally been designed to be opened up to allow cool breezes to circulate. Sadly, the voices of the couple in the room next to ours came through extremely clearly the next morning. Early.
Come breakfast time, I somewhat groggily stumbled down to the dining room, where all the guests shared one table. I much prefer to be antisocial over the first meal of the day, so I was a bit wary of the forced camaraderie. All was forgiven, however, when the food came out: Scrumptious cranberry pancakes with cranberry-studded butter. Here, the hosts' attention to detail extended even to the humble dairy spread.