Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023

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42 November/December 2023 Volume 20 Issue 6

On the Cover: Home for the Holidays pgs. 42-49 Photo by Walt Roycraft


Home Improvement

12 Homescapes: Winterizing Your Deck


Special Features

14 Gardens: Jon Carloftis 18 Holiday Gift Guide



20 Feature: Luxury Chandeliers 30 Artist: Melissa McDonald


34 Christmas at MeadowCreek Farm 42 Home for the Holidays 50 A Modern Homestead in the Heart of KY

Go Kentucky!

10 Cooking in Kentucky: Granddam 58 Off the Beaten Path: Raven Run Nature Sanctuary 6 Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023


November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens




Published by RHP Publishing, LLC PO Box 22754 Lexington, KY 40522 859.268.0217 Publisher: Rick Phillips Associate Publisher: Carolyn Rasnick Circulation and Distribution: Account Executives: Rick Phillips 859-797-3705 • Terri Carpenter 859-806-6123 • Aaron Peoples 859-229-8216 • Editors: Rick Phillips, Carolyn Rasnick Senior Associate Editor: Kirsten E. Silven Photography: Walt Roycraft Contributing Writers: Ray Hunter Kirsten E. Silven Art Direction & Design: Meghann Burnett Printing: Freeport Press 2127 Resier Ave. SE New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663 Kentucky Homes and Gardens is published six times a year by RHP Publishing, LLC. 859.268.0217 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.


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8 Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023

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Subscriptions and change-of-address should be sent to Kentucky Homes and Gardens, Subscriber Service Center, PO Box 22754, Lexington, KY 40522

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens





Eclectic, Appalachian-Inspired Fare at The Manchester By Kirsten E. Silven


Photography Courtesy of Granddam

ituated in The Manchester boutique hotel at 941 Manchester Street in Lexington’s Distillery District, Granddam is a 140-seat restaurant serving up diverse cuisine inspired by the region’s ties to Appalachia. Standout menu items include the tableside pecan wood smoked fried chicken, Iberico pork tomahawk, venison Wellington, hand foraged Kentucky woodfire mushrooms and 12-hour roasted wild boar. “Granddam stands out due to its focus on locally-sourced ingredients, its unique blend of historic Appalachian cuisine with elevated twists, its commitment to culinary innovation, and its ability to create a welcoming and engaging dining atmosphere in the heart of Kentucky,” shared hotelier Hank Morris. The restaurant also serves up tableside, smoked old fashioneds, featuring its wide selection of exclusive bourbon barrel picks, and aims to create a memorable, immersive experience that will delight longtime bourbon enthusiasts and newcomers to the spirit alike. The dining room boasts a sophisticated, elegant vibe with walnut wainscoting accented by pops of green and beige, with floor-to-ceiling windows and teal-hued leather baguette seating. “From our spin on classic tomato pie, featuring heirloom tomatoes, caramelized onion, Kenny’s Farm cheddar and Newman’s bacon; to our confit rabbit ravioli with roasted garlic au jus, foie gras, zucchini, squash, cippolini onions, bulgur succotash and fried collards; Granddam is the place to be for an elevated Kentucky experience,” shared Garrett Coats, director of food and beverage. “Our stuffed trout is pan seared and features lump crab, corn relish and brown butter vinaigrette, while the fried chicken is also a fan favorite, finished with a honey butter glaze, corn spoon bread and sorghum mustard.”

1 The decadent pecan wood tableside smoked fried chicken is paired with caviar buerre blanc, roasted corn, mashed potatoes and fried leeks.


Coats also says the tomato carpaccio with heirloom tomatoes, tomato water vinaigrette, roasted corn and popcorn shoots, as well as the wood fired and hand foraged mushrooms with garlic goat cheese, lemon zest and black walnut salsa matcha are fantastic dishes to share. Granddam kicked off its first weekly Saturday Jazz brunch recently, featuring a decadent new farm-focused brunch menu, a raw bar and spirited morning cocktail and wellness beverage program. The new brunch experience is accompanied by an incredible four-piece jazz band, which plays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday. The restaurant has also rolled out a new chef ’s table offering, which offers groups of up to 14 people the chance to enjoy either a three-hour chef ’s tasting menu, or a whole suckling pig dinner, complete with accoutrements from the Kentucky garden, hosted in Granddam’s intimate private dining room. For more information or to make a reservation, visit or call 859-785-3905.

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2 Here we have a veritable feast of crab bone marrow, hand foraged mushrooms, 12-hour roasted wild boar, chili clams, wood fired lamb chops and roasted beet salad. Photo by Ryan Neeven.

3 3 Granddam restaurant in The Manchester hotel is situated just off the main lobby and designed to serve as an expansive, Appalachian-inspired dining hall that is open seven nights a week. Photo by Matt Kisiday.

4 4 Featuring Cherrystone Aquafarms middle neck clams, Cajun seasoning and finished with crispy pomme frites, the chili clams at Granddam are absolutely delectable. SEE RECIPE BELOW. Photo by Ryan Neeven.

Chili Clams INGREDIENTS: • 20 u Cherrystone Aquafarms middle neck clams • 2 Tbsp blended oil


• 1 Tbsp yellow onion in brunoise • 1 tsp minced garlic • 1 Tbsp Granddam’s Cajun seasoning • ¼ cup roasted corn kernel • ¼ cup cherry tomatoes from your favorite farmer, cut in halves in 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk • 1 Tbsp cold cubed butter • Your favorite Pommes Frites PREPARATION:


1. In a hot saucepan add 2 Tbsp blended oil, yellow onion, garlic and Granddam Cajun seasoning. Sweat vegetables in medium heat until translucent. 2. Add clams and coconut milk and put a lid on. Steam clams for 5 minutes. 3. Take the lid off, add tomatoes and corn. Sauté until everything is incorporated. 4. Simmer at medium temperature for 3 minutes and add cold butter. Stir until melted and serve. 5. Add pommes frites of your choosing, and enjoy!


5 The flavorful duck and sweet potato gnocchi features sorghum butter miso and sage beurre noisette crumble. 6 Venison Wellington, served in a puff pastry with Newsom’s country ham, foraged mushroom duxelle, green pepper bourbon demi, fried Parisian potatoes, roasted garlic and grilled broccolini. 7 Velvety smooth squash bisque, served with buttermilk granita, country ham butter and corn crisp. 8 Iberico Pork Tomahawk, served with sweet potato mash, plum and fig agrodolce, sweet potato pearls and garlic touille

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Winterizing Your Deck Protecting Your Outdoor Space from Harsh Weather


By Ray Hunter Photography Courtesy of Jim Topolski

inter can be harsh on your deck, with freezing temperatures, snow, and ice posing risks to its integrity and appearance. To ensure that your deck withstands winter weather and remains in top condition, it’s important to take proactive steps to winterize it.

“Using a power washer on a composite deck can be an effective method. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of avoiding power washers on wooden decks. The intense pressure can be harmful, causing damage to the wood and significantly reducing the life of the deck.”

Jim Topolski, the owner of American Deck and Sunroom, brings 30 years of experience to the table. He’s a seasoned professional with hands-on expertise in every aspect of deck maintenance and care. As winter approaches, Jim shares practical and effective tips on how to protect and prepare your deck for the harsh weather conditions ahead, ensuring its longevity and readiness for the warmer months that follow.

Sealing and waterproofing your deck is essential for protecting it against winter weather and extending its lifespan.

According to Jim, it’s essential to evaluate the current state of your deck before you begin your winterization efforts. This assessment will help you identify any existing damage or areas in need of repair. “I always emphasize the importance of a regular walk-around. Take the time to really inspect your deck for any visible damage, especially the havoc that can be caused by carpenter bees and other pests,” Jim said. “It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about the longevity and safety of your deck.” If your assessment reveals any damage to your deck, addressing those issues is crucial before winter sets in. Minor problems can escalate into more significant and costly repairs if left unattended during the colder months. Inspect your deck for rotted or cracked planks, loose screws, and signs of mold or mildew. Proper cleaning is an essential step in winterizing your deck. Clearing away debris and dirt not only improves the appearance of your deck but also helps prevent moisture buildup and potential damage. Start by removing any leaves, branches, or other debris that may have accumulated on your deck. “All leaves contain oils, and as they begin to decay, their acidity breaks down your deck’s sealant, staining the wood and composite,” Jim said. “The more porous your deck material is, the more the stains will seep in. And the longer the leaves remain on your deck, the harder it will be to remove the stains.”

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“If you have a wood deck, choose a high-quality sealer specifically designed for outdoor use. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring even coverage across the entire deck surface,” Jim said. “Sealing is unnecessary for composite or vinyl decks, as these materials are already moisture-resistant.” Regularly clearing snow and ice from your deck is crucial for maintaining its integrity and preventing slips and falls. Use a plastic shovel or snow blower to remove snow, being mindful not to scratch or damage the deck surface. Avoid using deicing salts, as they can erode the deck’s coating and cause further damage. “Winterizing your deck is not a one-time task; it requires regular maintenance and inspections throughout the colder months,” Jim said. “Routinely check for any signs of damage, such as loose boards or railing, and address them promptly. Clear away any debris that accumulates on your deck, as it can trap moisture and contribute to rot or decay.” By following these comprehensive tips for winterizing your deck, you can protect your outdoor space from the harsh weather conditions of the colder months. Regular inspections, repairs, cleaning, and sealing will help extend the lifespan of your deck and ensure it is ready for use when warmer weather returns. With proper care, your deck will continue to be a beautiful and functional outdoor space for years to come.

1 Even in Kentucky, where snowfall can be moderate, residents are no strangers to the phenomenon of waking up to a landscape transformed by a blanket of snow. Decks and outdoor areas, though often designed with resilience in mind, are not immune to the persistent coverage of snow. This winter element can potentially lead to moisture-related issues and structural wear, underscoring the necessity for adequate preparation and maintenance to preserve the longevity of these outdoor spaces. 2 Jim advises against the use of salt on deck stairs, a common practice to melt ice and snow. While effective for increasing traction, salt can be detrimental to the materials of the deck, leading to corrosion and a shortened lifespan. Instead, Jim recommends alternative methods for ice removal to preserve the structural integrity and appearance of the deck stairs. 3 Jim Topolski, the seasoned owner of American Deck and Sunroom, strongly recommends the application of an oil-based sealant infused with a color stain for wooden decks. According to Jim, this specialized treatment forms a robust barrier against the harsh winter weather and snow, effectively preserving the wood’s integrity, enhancing its aesthetic appeal, and extending the deck’s lifespan by offering added protection against moisture and the elements. 4 Protecting your deck from winter weather is paramount to ensure its longevity and safety. The combination of moisture, freezing temperatures, and snow can wreak havoc on the wood or materials, leading to issues like warping, cracking, and decay. Taking steps to winterize your deck, from thorough cleaning to applying protective sealants, can safeguard it from these adverse effects, ensuring that it remains sturdy and aesthetically pleasing for years to come.


3 4 November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens



Discovering the Fine Gardens of


By Kirsten E. Silven

Photography by Abby Laub


e hope you’ll enjoy this first glimpse of the exceptional gardens featured in the new book Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens, which is set to be released in November of 2023. The book gives us a breathtaking, up-close-and-personal look at some of this celebrated Kentucky native’s most awe-inspiring work, including River House at Rockcastle River Trading Company, which was the garden designer and author’s own boyhood home, as well as his current abode, Botherum. Other gardens featured in the stunning new tome include (but are not limited to) the joyous beauty of Whisper Creek Farm in Versailles, historic Rockledge in Louisville’s esteemed Glenview neighborhood, Lexington’s iconic Mt. Brilliant Farm, and Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer’s farm Walnut Groves in Bloomfield, Kentucky. For more than 30 years, Carloftis has designed and installed a wide array of award-winning residential and commercial gardens and outdoor living areas, ranging from sprawling horse farms to smaller in-town backyards and everything in between, always creating beautiful and functional spaces that are sure to delight the senses. His gardening career actually began in New York City, however, where Jon became one of America’s premier pioneers in rooftop and small space gardening.


1 The view from Jon’s “office” at Botherum is sublime, even if it is really just the kitchen table! 2 A sea of purple coneflowers at historic Ashbourne Farms in Oldham County offers a pollinator-friendly perennial option that cuts down on the need for yearly mulching and weeding. The colorful blooms are among the native plants that provide seasonal colors and were used on hillsides where mowing is a challenge.

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3 Vibrant angel trumpets serve as a showstopper in this inviting space, flanking a wooden bench in the lush gardens of Botherum in Lexington. This historic property has been completely renovated by Jon Carloftis in recent years, and today includes a number of unique garden ‘rooms’ like this. 4 Similar to the design at River House at Rockcastle River Trading Company, the potting shed and vegetable herb garden at Botherum are focal points of the garden.

Botherum, Jon Carloftis A 10th generation Kentuckian, Carloftis graduated from UK and—despite working with notable clients like Julianne Moore, Edward Norton and Mike Myers (among others) over the course of a 25-year career designing gardens all over Manhattan—Carloftis eventually came home to Lexington for his next chapter, where he restored historic Botherum. Built in 1851, this remarkable property had fallen into serious disrepair, with only a few former outlines of its long-gone gardens barely visible in the ravaged landscape. Today, this romantic “cottage” with its Gothic and Greek Revival elements has been reunited with the adjacent J.C. Cock House of 1810, and boasts magnificent gardens throughout the thoughtfully renovated grounds.


Ashbourne Farms, Janie & Austin Musselman At historic Ashbourne Farms in Oldham County just outside of Louisville, Jon planted evergreen varieties of junipers, laurels and viburnums to brighten up the landscape during dull winter months, and replaced certain old-fashioned plants with newer varieties, such as Bobo and Incrediball hydrangeas, which introduced pops of white, yellow and green. Native plants with seasonal colors were used on hillsides where mowing is dangerous, and ground covers were planted to take the place of mulch. Fox Hill Manor, Jennifer & Andre Ragland Formerly called the Rayburn, but known today as Fox Hill Manor, the foundation of this historic home was laid in 1790—two years before the Commonwealth of Kentucky was even recognized as a state. When Carloftis began bringing back its overgrown and untended garden, the bones—including an octagonal lawn—were still evident, with large boxwoods creating natural rooms. Today, a color palette of whites, silvers and evergreens, with pops of red and pink, purple and blue, give the gardens renewed life, while dwarf plant varieties reduce some of the maintenance while helping create a sense of intrigue and dimension. Milam Farm, Kim & Michael Dudgeon Milam Farm in Frankfort is home to a lovingly restored and updated mail-order Sears, Roebuck & Co. house. Today, this original Craftsman-style cottage has a new office and entertainment space added perpendicular to the original home. In the garden, Jon Carloftis added three raised beds bordered with cobblestones that are visible from the kitchen window, along with two large patios of irregular limestone. Shrubs like native inkberries were planted to provide a screen that won’t obstruct the idyllic farm views, while four sets of stone steps and natural walkways connect the entrance and exit points.

6 5 Every structure at Fox Hill Manor is perfectly situated to “talk to each other,” and Carloftis created gorgeous vistas in the garden here, employing tried and true methods that will never go out of style. 6 A cozy seating area on the irregular limestone patio situated just outside the kitchen offers a welcoming view of picturesque Milam Farm in Frankfort. To the left, an espaliered Kiefer pear tree lends structure to the space, while a sea of orange, yellow, white and red blooms lend added visual interest around the perimeter of the patio.

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


7 A former swimming pool is now a striking fountain that serves as the centerpiece of a large motor court at Lexington’s legendary Mt. Brilliant Farm. 8 The entrance to the guest house at historic Rockledge in Louisville’s distinguished Glenview neighborhood is marked by a fountain in a raised limestone planter bed that is surrounded by clipped boxwood.


9 Historic log cabins like this one dot the landscape alongside classic limestone walls at Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer’s magnificent Walnut Groves Farm in Bloomfield, Kentucky. Today, the cabins serve as guest houses for visiting friends and family. 10 Boasting a simple, serviceable design and a circular drive to welcome family and friends upon arrival, the gardens surrounding the main house at Whisper Creek Farm are designed to feel as comfortable and natural as the home itself. Low, blooming plants line both sides of the walkways, while a stone retaining wall supports beds of subtle blooms with a natural appearance along the shoulder and base.

8 Mt. Brilliant Farm, Rebecca & Greg Goodman Originally part of a 2,000-acre land grant from Thomas Jefferson to William Russell in 1774, Mt. Brilliant Farm has undergone several notable changes in ownership over the centuries, but today it once again functions as a Thoroughbred horse farm. In recent years, Carloftis has worked to re-establish a garden in its original location on the property, including a flower garden that changes from bright whites to deep purples over the course of three seasons, an expansive lawn and even a hedge maze. Rockledge, Fran & Matt Thornton Built in 1913, Rockledge is a historic manor house situated in Louisville’s celebrated Glenview neighborhood. The property features dark wood accents, ample use of limestone, brick and graceful arches, along with an oversized guest house. The gardens were completely overgrown when Jon began his work on the property, which included designing a quiet space in the garden behind the guest house that is centered on a beautiful fountain, creating a private area that is ideal for relaxation and reflection. Throughout the property, its aged and classic garden spaces feel as though they have protected the home for ages, with large evergreens and mature white blooming hydrangeas set against the beautiful old limestone walls.

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Walnut Groves Farm, Linda & Jerry Bruckheimer The gardens at Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Walnut Groves Farm flow organically around the main brick house, historic log cabins and stone fences, as well as the property’s other massive limestone and brick structures. Mature trees add to the desired feel of a true working Kentucky farm, reminiscent of the 1800’s. Carloftis brought in connecting elements to provide flow and mobility via stone pathways, steps and foot bridges between the various buildings. He also planted baptisia in the landscaped areas, as well as down the hillside so it would appear naturalized, bringing Linda’s vision to create the feel of an old working farm to life. Whisper Creek Farm, Sandy Gallagher Boasting magnificent vistas at every turn, the gardens at Whisper Creek Farm in Versailles include manicured evergreens in simple planter boxes, a large pedestal planter and cobblestones—all hewn from limestone— surrounded by prolific herbs and espaliered trees. In addition, a very large limestone bowl fountain is set in a square pool surrounded by green lawn, while climbing flowering vines overhang the porch entrance, welcoming one to explore both the house and garden spaces.


10 Other properties not featured in this article that appear in the book, Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens, include: Dudley’s, Debbie Long; Castle & Key Distillery, Will Arvin; Overbrook House, Janie & Austin Musselman; The Gathering Place, former home of Abby & Jonathan Webb; The Gardener’s Cottage at McMeekin Place, Katie & Doug Cauthen; Maker’s Mark Distillery, the Samuels Family; Parker Place, Cherie & David Ingordo; Eastern Kentucky University, the Carloftis Garden; Apiary, the Vaughan Family; The White House, Michele & Greg White; Golden Oak Farm, Cathy & Bob Roberts; The Beach House, Cece & Charlie Beach IV; Nitta Yuma, Jennifer & Hunter Bates; Winchester’s Island, Vivian Ruth Sawyer & Tom Noland; and The Park, Lindsey & Craig Bernick.

The book will be available and signed at Rockcastle River Trading Company’s Christmas Open House, November 17-18, 2023. For more information, visit

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


H O L I D A Y G I F T G U I D E 18

H O L I D A Y G I F T G U I D E 19

1 Embracing contemporary elegance, this living room marries rich wooden textures with a soft, neutral color palette that is highlighted by the awe-inspiring chandelier, reminiscent of delicate floating lilies, casting a gentle glow over this finely curated space. Photo courtesy of Visionaire Home.

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The Radiant World of

LuxuryChandeliers By Kirsten E. Silven

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


2 2 The open-plan design in this luxurious living room boasts a pleasing blend of rustic and contemporary custom details, highlighted by an eye-catching crystal burst chandelier with shimmering petals. Photo courtesy of VPC Builders.


uxury chandeliers have been synonymous with opulence and grandeur for centuries, gracing the ceilings of palaces, mansions, and high-end residences alike. Today, they continue to be a pivotal element in sophisticated interior design, adding not just light but also style, elegance, and a sense of luxury to any space. “Chandeliers are no longer just functional—they have become a designer focal point, a piece of art, and a crucial element in setting the mood and atmosphere of a space,” shared Anita Thompson, lighting specialist with Wiseway Supply. “One of the latest trends offers great sophistication in a larger two-story space, by grouping a family of multiple fixtures of different shapes and sizes, adding extraordinary flair.” As spaces become larger and ceilings higher, there is a growing trend towards chandeliers that make a statement. Oversized fixtures, often with bold, geometric shapes, command attention and become the focal point of any room. Gone are the days, however, when all chandeliers focused on extravagant designs and overwhelming sizes. One modern trend even leans towards simplicity and minimalism, with designers creating pieces that are sleek, streamlined, and less ornate. Geometric shapes, clean lines, and a restrained color palette dominate this trend, making it a popular choice for contemporary homes.

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With technological advancements, LEDs are also now incorporated into luxury chandeliers. This not only enhances energy efficiency, but allows for slimmer, more unique designs, including custom color changing to set the ambiance. “We can also expect to see more LED tunable color-changing fixtures that emulate natural daylight to help regulate our sleep cycles and enhance our overall wellbeing,” Thompson added. ”Smart lighting control systems are also very popular, offering the mere push of a single button to create lighting scenes throughout the house, controlled by voice commands, a smart phone app, or sensor detecting your presence.” Today’s top lighting designers are increasingly combining various materials and textures to create chandeliers that are visually striking and rich in detail. Think of fixtures that blend metals like brass or copper with glass, crystal, or even fabric. The result is a chandelier that is not just a source of light, but a piece of art that adds depth and intrigue to a room.

3 3 Embracing nature’s serenity, this modern vacation home features an elegant living room accentuated by a statement chandelier, its radiant petals emitting a soothing organic glow against a backdrop of towering pines. Photo courtesy of Hammerton.

“Design trends we are experiencing in luxury lighting include the use of natural materials and mixed metals, with larger scales and proportions, while natural materials such as rattan, alabaster stone, and capiz shell have also become increasingly popular; often paired with black and/or gold metal finishes,” shared Robbin Thompson, lighting consultant for The Brecher Company. “Depending on the overall styling of the home, ‘luxury lighting’ can take many forms—whether you are looking at the high-end modern, transitional, or traditional designs, they all seem to be taking a more contemporary approach, including clean, simple lines that complement the space rather than dominating it.” Thompson says it’s also important to keep in mind the overall function of the room when choosing a luxury fixture like a chandelier, since they often do function more like a decorative piece of art and don’t always emit a tremendous amount of light, so it may be necessary to add more general lighting to the space, such as recessed fixtures. “The placement of fixtures is just as important as the fixture itself, Thompson added. “Strategically placing fixtures within a space ensures the overall lighting needs will be met, both aesthetically and functionally, while making sure there is a balance among the various lighting layers (general, accent, and task lighting) is key to creating the intended atmosphere for any room.”

Thompson has also seen trends challenging the traditional placement and usage of specific fixture types. For example, placing pendants over bedside tables, rather than the traditional table lamps, and has noticed more pendants being used flanking bathroom vanities, in place of the traditional vanity sconce over the mirror. Finally, there is a growing resurgence in the popularity of chandeliers inspired by vintage and antique designs. These fixtures often feature intricate details, delicate craftsmanship, and a sense of history that adds a layer of sophistication to any space. And as awareness around sustainability grows, so does the demand for eco-friendly options. Designers are responding with an array of stunning new fixtures made from recycled materials, as well as a wider variety of show-stopping LED lighting options that are both luxurious and energy-efficient. Luxury chandeliers can be so much more than just light fixtures; they are pieces of art, conversation starters, and mood setters. As trends evolve, these magnificent fixtures continue to adapt, proving their timeless nature. Whether you’re redesigning a space or just looking to update its lighting, a chandelier can provide both function and form, setting your home aglow with style and elegance.

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


4 A captivating spiral chandelier cascades like an effervescent river of starlight from the second-floor ceiling to the first-floor entryway, beautifully complemented by minimalist décor and artful accents in this pristine living space. Photo courtesy of Wranovsky.

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5 Deep blue paneling and organic wooden accents are complemented by a mesmerizing golden chandelier of twinkling lights, elegantly offset by chic neutral furniture and understated decor. Photo courtesy of Vakkerlight.

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6 A cascading crystal chandelier illuminates a sophisticated monochrome living room, evoking the feeling of a sparkling waterfall above the plush, neutral-toned cushions and sofa. Photo courtesy of Uluru. 7 Boasting an exquisite blend of rich neutrals complemented by sleek furnishings, this chic living room is crowned by a striking chandelier of cascading glass orbs, reflecting both light and luxury in equal measure. Photo courtesy of Leonard Properties.

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8 8 This sleek, transitional dining room is crowned by a gilded, natural branch-inspired chandelier, complemented by plush diamond-quilted beige chairs and subtle gold accents in a warm tonal palette. Photo courtesy of Magus Algedra | Covet House.

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens



9 This lavish formal living room showcases a breathtaking, multi-tiered crystal chandelier, elegantly framed by a trio of symmetrical arches on the first and second floor, while the striking zebra-patterned rug works with silver accents, contemporary furniture and modern art, lending a sense of contrast to the pristine white marble flooring. Photo courtesy of Ions Design.

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10 An ode to elegance, this bedroom employs a striking yet muted color palette, intricate carpet design, and plush furnishings. The pièce de résistance, however, is the cascading gold and crystal chandelier, encircled by a dramatic ceiling inset to lend a touch of opulence to the serene ambiance. Photo courtesy of Kollinear Interior Design.

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


1 “Abstract Ocean” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas Unframed 36” x 48” Available for Sale $925

A Canvas Reborn


The Artistic Journey of Melissa McDonald By Ray Hunter

Photography Courtesy of Melissa McDonald Special thanks to Aaron Peoples for photo selection


elissa McDonald’s journey into artistry and expression began in Columbus, Ohio, and was nurtured under the sweeping skies of NorthEastern Kentucky. A dynamic artist with a meticulous eye, Melissa’s roots in the idyllic settings of her upbringing are deeply woven into the tapestry of her creations. Her artistic journey began early. “I’ve been coloring in the lines since I was 3,” she said, underscoring an innate skill evident from a tender age. During her middle school years in Catlicksberg, Melissa’s pencil drawings, often inspired by photographs, stood out. Yet, she didn’t perceive her artistic inclinations as anything more than a hobby. It was a source of joy and personal expression, not a prospective career. College took McDonald to Ashland University, where she majored in Communications. Her trajectory shifted when she delved into Graphic Design at Eastern Kentucky University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Here, the spark of fine arts ignited within her, though it was not until years later that this spark would turn into a blazing fire of creative enthusiasm. Day-to-day life left little room for creativity. About 15 years ago, the dormant artist within her awoke with a potent realization. “I need to draw,” Melissa admitted to herself, marking a turning point in her life. Since that revelation, she has committed herself relentlessly to art. The woman who once viewed her talent as a pastime now spent countless hours refining her skills. Specializing in pet portraits and painting stunning landscapes and portraits, Melissa’s creations are a testament to her dedication and evolving expertise. Her choice of mediums—acrylics, oil pastels, and charcoal or graphite pencils—allows for rich, detailed, and textured works.

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1 Now calling central Kentucky home, her expertise has been honed over 25 illustrious years in the printing business. Yet, Melissa’s true essence as an artist unfurls in the sanctuary of her home studio. Amidst the stillness and solitude, equipped with brush and canvas, she immerses herself in crafting evocative portraits and enchanting landscapes, each piece a soulful dance of colors echoing the silent yet eloquent narratives of both human and nature. Melissa’s inspiration often stems from photographs captured by herself or her friends. She has a knack for translating a moment frozen in time into an everlasting piece of art, instilling life and emotion into every creation. She believes in the organic art-making process, advising, “When you see it becomes art—just stop. Don’t overwork it.” A piece of advice indicating her belief in natural, intuitive creation rather than forced perfection. A clean workspace is another essential aspect of her creative process. “Sometimes you just have to clean your studio,” Melissa said. A decluttered space paves the way for an unobstructed flow of creativity, allowing new ideas to take root and flourish. Melissa has also dedicated time to teaching art locally, sharing her skills and insights gained over years of practice and discovery. The journey from a young girl in Catlicksberg sketching from photographs to a seasoned artist and teacher is a narrative of passion rediscovered and nurtured. Every piece of art crafted by Melissa is not just an expression of talent but a chapter of her story, intricately woven into the strokes of her brush and the shades of her palette. For those interested in exploring more of Melissa McDonald’s evocative and compelling artwork, visit her Facebook page at Melissa McDonald Studio. Here, art enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a diverse array of her creations, each echoing the artist’s meticulous skill and passionate spirit. Pieces are available for purchase, offering a unique opportunity to bring a fragment of Melissa’s world into your own. Moreover, she is available for private commissions for those seeking a personal touch, ready to translate your visions and memories into timeless works of art.


5 3

4 2 “Cardinal” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 11” x 14” Private Collection

5 “Ornaments” Oil Pastel on Paper 5” x 7” Private Collection

3 “Barn on Hot Summer Day” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 30” x 40” Available for Sale $925, unframed

6 “Reflections in a Window” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 24” x 36” Available for Sale Unframed $675 Framed $875

4 “Horses at Sunset” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 36” x 24” Private Collection

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7 “Sunset at Panama City Beach” Acrylic on Gallery Wrapped Canvas 30” x 40” Available for Sale $950. unframed 8 “Along the Path at the Gate” Acrylic on Gallery Wrapped Canvas 30” x 40” Available for Sale $950, unframed 9 “Lizzie in the Sunshine” The artist’s big-boned full-figured Golden Retriever Acrylic on Canvas Board 12” x 9” Available for Sale $200, unframed 10 “Greywind ‘Bucky’ the Corgi” 9” x 12” Graphite Private Collection 11 “Alpaca” Acrylic on Canvas Board 5” x 7” Available for Sale $100, unframed 12 “Garden Gate after Snowfall” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 20” x 16” Available for Sale $400, unframed 13 “Sammi” Sammi was a beloved pet of Kentucky Homes & Gardens publisher Rick Phillips. Oil Pastel on Gallery 5” x 7” , Wrapped Canvas Private Collection


14 “Little Yellow Boat” Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas 24” x 18” Available for Sale $450, unframed

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Celebrating Christmas at MeadowCreek Farm By Kirsten E. Silven Photography by Walt Roycraft

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1) Built in the 1980’s just outside of Lebanon, Kentucky, this classic Federal-style home is all about balance and symmetry. The majestic, two-story columns and small Juliet balcony over the main entrance work to enhance the home’s historic feel, while its location atop one of the highest points in Marion County assures beautiful 360-degree views of MeadowCreek Farm and the surrounding pastoral Kentucky countryside beyond.

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y the early 1980’s Jim and LaVerne Avritt had outgrown their first home and small Standardbred horse farm in the Lebanon area, so the couple found the perfect location to build their dream home and expand. Today, MeadowCreek Farm sits atop one of the highest points in Marion County, Kentucky, standing as a testament to perseverance and a true labor of love. “We liked the gently rolling hills and easy access to town,” shared Jim, who always loved harness racing and has adopted a real hands-on approach since buying his first filly while he was still a senior at Xavier University in Cincinnati. “Racing is truly a passion of mine and horses are an important cornerstone of everything we’ve built here.” Since the early days, operations have expanded gradually and now MeadowCreek Farm is home to 12-14 mares at any given time and a small racing stable that currently includes two of the nine entries in this year’s $600k Breeder’s Crown for two-year-old filly pacers, which is harness racing’s equivalent to Thoroughbred racing’s Breeder’s Cup. Inside, the home reflects the Avritt’s pragmatic, balanced philosophy and brings their traditional, timeless sense of style to life with warm walnut woodwork throughout and a distinct welcoming feel that is always elegant but never stuffy. “I enjoy the classic Kentucky lines of this home,” shared Mary Cynthia of Martin, Durr, Caldwell Interior Designers. “The layout is ideal for entertaining, with plenty of seating and ample space to comfortably host large parties.” In fact, entertaining has long been a central part of life for the Avritt family, and over the years LaVerne often chose to exercise her talents in the kitchen and love of cooking by preparing all of the food for parties of up to 7580 people. Of course, this was always especially true around Christmastime, when family and friends come together in celebration of the holidays, to reflect on the year that just passed by and to anticipate what the new year will bring.


The Christmas décor reflects the understated, classic style of the home, with tasteful hints of garland throughout and glittering trees in the formal living room and great room that display LaVerne’s extensive collection of ornaments, including a variety of gorgeous Waterford and Swarovski crystal pieces, among many others she has picked up over the years to bring her distinctive vision to life. Through the decades, MeadowCreek Farm has grown to embody the dreams of Jim and LaVerne Avritt in so many different ways. From the rolling hills, horses and barns to the home itself, every aspect of this idyllic property is born of dreams and imagination, with a strong commitment to family and community that serves as the foundation of everything they do. “We are truly happiest at this place we call home, surrounded by our two children and four grandchildren,” shared LaVerne. And that is a message we can all appreciate, throughout this holiday season and beyond!

2) Charming ornaments abound! 3) The formal dining room is a study in elegance and traditional Southern style, featuring a stunning Brunschwig & Fils hand-printed wallcovering from the 1794 Suffield Collection, a Masland lattice rug in a bright persimmon hue and a glittering Schonbek chandelier. The holiday-themed place setting is from Spode, while decorative boxwood wreaths tied with ivory satin ribbons adorn each of the chairs, and festive garland is found on the china cabinet and the table centerpiece.

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4) Situated on the second floor, this vanity is part of a full bath (not pictured) and features granite countertops with custom cabinetry crafted by Central Kentucky Cabinets, and a touch of garland to celebrate the season above the gold-toned mirror. The shimmering metallic Schumacher Williamsburg wallcovering and solid gold metallic wallpaper on the ceiling create a lavish feel, while delicate white hydrangeas and two antique brass Williamsburg pineapple wall sconces complete the look.

3 4



7 5) A French urn surrounded by rich gold, cream and green-hued garland adorns the mantle in the formal living room, bringing a merry warmth to gatherings of friends and family throughout the holiday season. 6) Graceful garland brings Christmas cheer to the home’s main entry hall, which boasts a warm, inviting feel with a Thibaut Mumford tone-on-tone wallcovering and a neutral tan hue on the ceiling to bring out the walnut woodwork. A stately antique Victorian hall tree serves as a coat rack and umbrella stand, while the pleasing shades of persimmon and blue on the Karastan rug are echoed throughout the home.

7) Designed to serve as LaVerne Avritt’s personal sanctuary, this dreamy hideaway is draped in soothing tones of aqua, with subtle gold and mirrored accents to lend a hint of glamour. The design was inspired by the antique 1830’s walnut sleigh bed and includes custom window treatments, mesmerizing metallic and aqua wallpaper on the ceiling, a distressed gold leaf TV cabinet, a mirrored sideboard with a matching end table, and stunning antique crystal and brass lamps that resemble bouquets of flowers and stand 39-inches high.

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


8)A flawless gold frame holds a delicate painting from Calvary Hill Antiques to create a charming seasonal vignette in the formal living room.

8 9) The formal living room is both elegant and inviting, with a ball and claw Chippendale sofa in a magnificent Scalamandre stripe, and Thibaut wallpaper in metallic gold, with a vertical design to complement the room’s rectangular shape. The sparkling Christmas tree is adorned with LaVerne Avritt’s beautiful collection of ornaments, which includes many pieces of Waterford and Swarovski crystal, among others. The antique floor lamp belonged to Jim Avritt’s paternal grandmother, while LaVerne’s finial collection sits atop the sideboard, reflected in a stately Chippendale mirror.

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8) The massive Kentucky limestone fireplace serves as a natural focal point in the home’s great room, which boasts an oversized Karastan rug, plenty of natural light and vaulted 15-foot ceilings that are accented with massive walnut beams, offering plenty of space for friends and family to gather. The sumptuous Christmas tree glitters with hundreds of ornaments collected over the years by LaVerne Avritt, while a massive custom-made TV cabinet, antique walnut secretary and Victorian walnut washstand complete the look. 9) Featuring custom walnut cabinetry by Central Kentucky Cabinets, granite countertops and a highly functional design, the spacious kitchen is truly the heart of the Avritt home, with double ovens and plenty of counter space, as well as a generous seating area and custom window treatments in a Stroheim and Romann fabric. 10 & 11) Gold and cream are on grand display as an angel faces off with OId Saint Nick.

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HOUSE CREDITS Interior Design: Martin Durr, Caldwell Interior Designers Builder: Terry Reynolds Custom Cabinetry, Vanities & Bookcases: Central Kentucky Cabinets Antiques: Calvary Hill Antiques & Irish Acres Gallery of Antiques 13 November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


1 The Johnson house epitomizes elegant design and spacious living in the serene Two Creeks Subdivision in Frankfort. Its grandeur unfolds over 4800 square feet of meticulously designed space, offering a blend of sophistication and comfort. The exterior is as impressive as the interior, with an exquisite architectural design that houses spacious bedrooms and ample living spaces. A circle driveway adds a touch of class and convenience, welcoming family and guests with ease and ample parking. The property radiates an inviting aura, harmonizing modern design with natural surroundings, making it not just a house but a beloved home for the Johnson family.

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Home for


Inside the Johnson Family’s Enchanted Christmas Abode By Ray Hunter Photography by Walt Roycraft

November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens




estled in the heart of Two Creeks Subdivision in Frankfort, a stone’s throw away from the Frankfort Country Club, James and Georganne Johnson’s home blends elegance and warmth. Built in 2003 and purchased by the Johnsons in 2007, this 1½ story, 4800-squarefoot home has become a hub of family gatherings, memorable occasions, and magical Christmases.

Outside, the deck and pool offer an escape during the warmer months, a private retreat where the Johnsons and their guests can enjoy the Kentucky sun and picturesque surroundings.

Yet, come December, the home transforms. With her years of expertise, Lori adorns every room and every hallway with festive flair. The house comes alive with the spirit of Christmas, proving that it was made for this James and Georganne’s daughter, Lori, is the owner of Lori Johnson Designs magical season. The decor’s color palette mirrors the two-toned walls, creating is the mastermind of the home’s inviting interior. With over 25 years in the a seamless blend of everyday elegance and festive wonder. design industry, Lori’s touch is seen in the smart yet stylish decor that fills every room. From the alternating stripes of French Vanilla Cream and Soft One can’t help but notice the distinct family heirlooms that appear each Golden Cream that grace the walls to the beautifully crafted arches and Christmas. These precious ornaments and figurines are more than just hardwood floors, an inviting warmth makes you feel instantly at home. decorations—they are silent storytellers, holding the tales of generations within them. Each piece, delicately placed by Lori, adds a touch of the Johnson “It’s like this house was made for Christmas,” Lori said, and a walk through family’s legacy to the Christmas celebration. the space during December proves her point. The home’s traditional style with European and Southern accents becomes the perfect backdrop for the The ornaments, some gleaming with the patina of age, others vibrant with red, honey, gold, creams, and greens of the festive decorations. Each room the hues of more recent memories, are cherished guests at every Johnson tells its own tale of holiday cheer, capturing the essence of Christmas in family Christmas. They sit proudly against the backdrop of Lori’s expert every corner. designs, connecting the past with the present and weaving the family’s history into the fabric of today’s celebrations. The house is nothing short of practical elegance. With three spacious bedrooms and five bathrooms on the main floor, there’s room for everyone “Every piece of decoration, especially our family heirloom ornaments, is a during the bustling holiday season. The mother-in-law suite upstairs offers chapter of our story,” Lori said. “They bring more than just festive beauty; guests a private oasis, complete with its own bathroom. they weave the rich tapestry of our family’s history into every corner of the home. It’s a blend of the past and present, a celebration that makes each But it’s not just the holidays when the Johnson’s home shines. An office Christmas uniquely ours.” provides a quiet retreat for work or study, and the entertainment room, boasting a pool table, becomes the go-to spot for unwinding. Want to relax In the Johnson’s home, Christmas isn’t just a holiday; it’s an experience where even more? The in-house sauna awaits, ready to soothe away the stresses every room invites you in, and the decor tells tales of family, warmth, and of the day. holiday cheer. The blend of traditional, European, and Southern elements creates a space that’s as inviting as it is elegant—a home where the holiday spirit lives not just in the decorations but in the very walls themselves.

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2 The entryway is awash with natural light, giving the space an inviting and airy ambiance. This luminous effect is accentuated by faux marble columns and arches, lending an element of grandeur and architectural finesse to the area. Shield back chairs encircle a traditional double pedestal base dining table, providing both form and function for gatherings. Adorning the nearby buffet is a custom Christmas floral arrangement meticulously curated to evoke the season’s spirit. Perhaps the most personal touch in this festive decor is the array of ornaments—tokens from Lori’s childhood—each carrying its own story and memory, reminding all of the enduring magic of the season.

3 Upon entering the Johnson house, your gaze is immediately drawn through the expansive formal living room to the gleaming French doors at its far end, providing a tantalizing glimpse of the outdoor courtyard and pool. This exterior oasis, reminiscent of a high-end spa or resort, becomes the favorite gathering spot during the warm months. The open-concept family room and kitchen beckon to the left of the entrance, spaces where familial warmth and culinary delights intermingle. Lori, with her infectious enthusiasm and keen design sense, often jestingly refers to her family as “Christmas Geeks.” True to this moniker, festive ornaments, each telling a unique tale, are sprinkled throughout the living spaces, harmoniously blending with the home’s overall decor. Not one, but two majestic Christmas trees stand as a testament to the family’s love for the festive season.

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4 Lori chose the long Dupioni silk drapery that graces the windows in the formal living room, drawing attention to the tastefully twotoned painted walls. A large white fireplace and mantle dominate the room, providing warmth and a grand focal point. Above the mantle, an oil painting lends an artistic touch, its rich colors harmonizing with the room’s decor. Flanking one side of the room is a Georgian-inspired Bombay chest, its classic design reminiscent of bygone eras. Above the chest, an oval gold-framed mirror amplifies the room’s light and spaciousness. As a nod to the festive season, reindeer sculptures subtly reference winter’s charm, while a beautifully adorned Christmas tree stands prominently in the forefront, its twinkling lights and ornaments invoking holiday cheer.

5 The great room in the Johnson household stands as the epitome of comfort and elegance, a space where the family convenes to create and relish in unforgettable moments. The open concept of this room affords a generous view into the heart of the home - the kitchen, where meals are prepared with love and enjoyed with gusto. A signature feature of the great room is the custom built-in cherry cabinets, a choice selection of the previous owners that adds a touch of classic richness to the space. Lori, always with an eye for detail and sophistication, has meticulously updated the lighting fixtures and fans, infusing modern flair while preserving the room’s intrinsic warmth. However, it’s during the Christmas season that this room truly comes to life. A majestic Christmas tree adorned with an array of ornaments stands proudly as the centerpiece. It’s here, amidst the soft glow of the tree lights and the allure of the gleaming decorations, that the Johnson family gathers for their cherished tradition of gift exchanging. Every present unwrapped echoes the laughter and joy that fills this space, marking another memorable Christmas celebrated in the heart of their beloved home.

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6 The Johnsons’ kitchen is a harmonious blend of refinement and functionality, seamlessly integrating high-quality features for an enriched culinary experience. Granite countertops are complemented by state-ofthe-art Gen-Air appliances, ensuring each culinary creation is crafted with precision and ease. A large bar, accentuated by stools adorned in a playful mix of caramel, black, and cream tiger print upholstery, adds a touch of whimsy and elegance. The glow from the mosaic Tiffany-inspired pendant lights above effortlessly harmonizes it. Centrally positioned, a sizable island showcasing a built-in range becomes a focal point of the room. Georganne takes particular delight in the butcher block style removable surface, a thoughtful gift that has become integral for food preparation and entertaining.


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7 7 The family room is both comfortable and stylish. A unique architectural feature, the angled tri-fold wall adorned with custom cherry built-ins provides a rich backdrop and storage that is as aesthetic as it is functional. The gas fireplace boasts a marble front, enhancing the room’s inviting ambiance. Seating is a considered ensemble of golden cream mini print swivel chairs and a taupe leather sofa adorned with French gold nail head trim, offering both style and comfort. A round cherry swivel top coffee table takes center stage, adorned with the vibrant red of poinsettias and the gentle glow of candles during the festive season. An oversized abstract painting graces the room, its hues enhancing its color palette, adding a contemporary touch amidst the traditional undertones.

8 The primary bedroom exudes sophistication and attention to detail. At its centerpiece is a king bed crowned with a burled mahogany headboard, a testament to timeless craftsmanship. The room’s windows are draped in long Dupioni silk curtains, held gracefully by an ornate rod and intricate hardware. To the side, tone-on-tone zebra print ottomans provide a modern contrast, while overstuffed gold and cream-colored chairs featuring tailored inverted box cleat skirts invite relaxation. Underfoot, a hand-knotted oriental rug serves as a unifying element, harmoniously tying together the room’s diverse textures and colors. The recessed ceilings draw the eye upward, and as a cohesive touch, hardwood floors—a feature consistent throughout the home—underscore the room’s refined aesthetic.

9 The primary bathroom seamlessly combines luxury and solace. Its walls are accentuated by 3-D wallpaper reminiscent of crystal sand, adding depth and character. The room houses a spacious spa tub, ideal for relaxation, alongside a walk-in shower encased by a transparent frameless door. The familiar cherry cabinets are present, offering ample storage, and are enhanced by Delicatus quartz granite countertops. Above, a custom antique gold-framed mirror stands prominently, paired perfectly with the room’s cream drop-in porcelain sinks.


Interior Design Lori Johnson Designs Christmas Decorating Lori Johnson Designs Painting Gary Sharfe Electrical Dunn-Wright Electrical

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1 50 Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023

1 Located in Paris, Kentucky, John and Melody Sparks’ house exudes a traditional charm with its brick facade. Its exterior is accentuated by four stately columns that frame the front porch and door, lending the house a timeless elegance. The property offers a generous 3,500 square feet of finished space, with an additional 1,500 square feet still awaiting completion. Notably, the landscaping and strategic placement of the house were expertly managed by John’s brother, Randy, adding a personal touch to the home’s setting and surroundings.

A Modernin theHomestead Heart of Kentucky By Ray Hunter Photography by Walt Roycraft


ucked away in the picturesque landscapes of Paris, Kentucky, stands the Sparks House, a testament to the harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. Built in 2018, a brainchild of Melody and John, it offers a fresh perspective on what it means to marry the classic and the contemporary. “When designing our home, I wanted it to reflect both our roots and passions,” Melody said. “The traditional exterior was John’s idea and is a nod to Kentucky’s rich history, while my love for French country decorating inspires the bright and cheerful interiors.” From the outside, the Sparks House demands attention. Four imposing columns stand guard at the entrance, adding a stately charm reminiscent of Kentucky’s grand old mansions. The brick facade, not only durable but timeless, further accentuates the home’s traditional character. But step inside, and you’ll discover a world where tradition meets comfort and style. With a sprawling 3500 square feet of finished space, the home’s interiors are anything but confined. Thanks to the soaring 12-foot ceilings, the rooms seem to breathe, with ample light flooding in to make everything look cheerful and welcoming. And that’s precisely how Melody wanted it. An enthusiast of French country decorating, she’s threaded this style throughout the house, resulting in an aesthetic that’s as stylish as it is comforting. One of the standout features inside the home is Melody’s deft use of buffalo check accents. These patterns, though distinct, don’t overpower. Instead, they lend a warm, country-farm vibe that resonates with the home’s surroundings. It’s this kind of attention to detail that makes the Sparks House feel more like a ‘home’ than just another property. “The buffalo check accents throughout the house aren’t just a design choice,” Melody said. “They remind us of our farm’s legacy and the comforting embrace of the countryside that surrounds us daily.”

The abode’s practicality is evident in its five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, ensuring ample space for the Sparks family, which includes their two teenage daughters, Maggie and Macie. And with an additional 1500 square feet yet to be finished, it’s clear that the house holds promise for future expansions. The basement, in particular, is on the family’s radar for some exciting upcoming projects. But the Sparks House isn’t just a residence; it’s the epicenter of a thriving 433-acre farm. Beyond its walls, the expansive farm stretches out, managed meticulously by Melody and her family. It’s a busy life, for sure. Amidst the cattle operation, Melody juggles her role as the farm’s bookkeeper, ensuring everything runs like a well-oiled machine. “This house is more than just walls and a roof. It’s a place where our family comes together, surrounded by the vast beauty of our farm,” Melody said. “Every room is filled with love, laughter, and the promise of many cherished memories ahead.” Such a balance between work, passion, and family is a rarity in today’s fast-paced world. The Sparks family has managed to create a haven where they not only live but thrive. It’s a place where work feels less burdensome, thanks to the serene environment, and relaxation is just a porch step away. The Sparks House isn’t merely a structure made of brick and mortar. It’s a story, a journey of a family’s dream to meld the old with the new. It’s a testament to Melody’s vision of a home that’s bright and cheerful and embodies the spirit of the Kentucky countryside. As time progresses, one thing is sure—this house will not just be remembered for its grandeur but for the warmth and love it radiates, making it a true gem in the heart of Paris, Kentucky.

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2 Upon entering the home, the heartwarming dining room lies to the left. It’s a space that radiates an inviting aura, making it a favorite gathering spot for both the farm workers and the family’s church friends. Central to this room’s charm is an antique bench, a cherished heirloom passed down through generations of the Sparks family. With its history and craftsmanship, this bench sits harmoniously alongside newer pieces, showcasing a delightful mix of the old and the contemporary. An iron chandelier is suspended majestically above the dining table, adding warmth and elegance. The area is thoughtfully designed, maintaining an open concept that seamlessly flows into the living room, ensuring that walls never confine conversations and laughter. 3 The entryway makes an indelible first impression. The big, solid wood door dominates this space—its weight and robustness symbolize the home’s foundational strength. Intricately melded into this wooden marvel is a work of art: a singular piece that combines delicate metalwork and glass above the door. This scrollwork isn’t merely decorative; it is pivotal in illuminating the entryway with a cascade of natural light, making the hardwood floors gleam and setting the space aglow. As if this wasn’t captivating enough, during festive seasons, one can’t help but notice Melody’s personal touch: a snowman tree she’s lovingly decorated, adding whimsy and warmth to the welcoming area. 4 Perched atop the kitchen bar is a nostalgic Santa Claus decoration, an age-old figure paired perfectly with a sleigh from Melody’s youth. This delightful duo not only adds festive charm to the space but also bridges the gap between past and present, serving as a cherished memento that intertwines memories of yesteryears with the joys of today.

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“This house is more than just walls and a roof. It’s a place where our family comes together, surrounded by the vast beauty of our farm,” -Melody Sparks

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5 To the right of the entrance, the home boasts a meticulously designed office, a testament to Melody’s professional journey and current endeavors. Once a practicing CPA, Melody harnesses her expertise to manage the farm’s bookkeeping from this space. Dominating the room are expansive bookcases that house ledgers, records, and family keepsakes. At the heart of the office sits a large writing desk, offering ample space for Melody to work, surrounded by artwork that pays homage to the cattle industry, seamlessly blending functionality with passion. This room, in many ways, reflects Melody’s dedication to her family’s legacy and her professional pursuits.

6 The kitchen stands as a masterpiece of both functionality and design. Echoing the rest of the home, the “Neutral Ground” paint from Sherwin Williams graces the walls, harmonizing beautifully with the rich hardwood floors underfoot. The room’s centerpiece, a large island bar, boasts sleek granite countertops, offering utility and a touch of sophistication. Surrounding this are beautifully crafted cabinets that provide ample storage without compromising aesthetics. For those with a culinary bent, the commercial gas stovetop stands ready to assist in whipping up family feasts. And, in keeping with Melody’s vision, the farm theme is subtly woven into this space, ensuring the kitchen feels as much a part of the Sparks’ farm legacy as any other room in the house.

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7 Just off the kitchen, the breakfast nook is a versatile haven for the family. Here, mornings are greeted with shared meals, and evenings wind down with heart-to-heart conversations. The continuity in design is evident, with walls painted in “Neutral Ground” by Sherwin Williams, a hue that gracefully extends throughout the house. This subdued backdrop is perfectly complemented by trim painted in “Greek Villa,” adding a touch of brightness to the space. Completing the look, buffalo check curtains frame the windows, subtly echoing the country charm that Melody so adores. This nook, in essence, encapsulates the heart of the home, where food meets family and memories are crafted daily.


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10 8 The primary bedroom is a space where grandeur and comfort coalesce. Dominating the room is a king-sized bed, accompanied by stately furniture and a dresser, each piece meticulously crafted from solid oak. While exuding elegance, these substantial furnishings do not detract from the room’s inherent coziness. A poignant touch of heritage resides in one corner: Melody’s great-grandmother’s sewing machine. This cherished artifact stands as a nod to the family legacy and the art of handcraft. Consistent with the home’s design ethos, touches of buffalo check can be found on the bed’s pillows and even in the festive Christmas decorations, imbuing the room with a sense of continuity and warmth that makes it a true retreat within the Sparks House.

10 The family room is the core of shared memories and communal living. Adjoining the dining room and kitchen, this space is characterized by oversized leather couches and a matching recliner, their rich textures inviting relaxation and familial bonding. Positioned centrally is a circular ottoman, perfect for casual lounging and as an aesthetic anchor for the room. A prominent feature is the stone fireplace, equipped with gas logs, providing warmth and ambiance during chilly evenings. Flanking the fireplace are built-in bookcases displaying cherished reads and family mementos. But perhaps the most heartwarming touch during the festive season is the main Christmas tree, under which gifts from Santa await eager hands on Christmas morning.

9 The primary bathroom is an elegant blend of past and present. Central to its charm is the antique clawfoot tub, a cherished relic repurposed from their previous residence, standing as a testament to the family’s appreciation for history and tradition. Complementing the tub is a modern walk-in shower, offering both luxury and convenience. Adjacent to the bathroom is a vast walk-in closet, providing ample space for storage and organization. Above the cabinets and sink, a large, black-framed mirror looms, amplifying the room’s spaciousness and adding a touch of contemporary sophistication. Conveniently located on the main floor, this primary bedroom and bathroom combination seamlessly integrates comfort with classic design, making it a true sanctuary within the home.


Builder Charlie Ayres, Ayres Custom Homes Landscaping/Home Placement Randy Sparks, Sparks Enterprises

Flooring Major’s Floor Covering

Fireplace/Bookcase Built-ins Linville’s Finish Carpentry

Lighting Fixtures Brecher’s Lighting

Custom Kitchen/Bath Cabinets Champ’s Kitchen Designs

Appliances Ferguson November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens


November - March Operating Hours 9AM - 5PM Entrance gate closes at 4PM Trails close at 4:30PM

1 Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is a canvas painted with nature’s most splendid colors and forms. As visitors tread along the scenic trails, they are greeted by the panoramic vistas of the Kentucky River Palisades. In this mesmerizing spectacle, cliffs and gorges stand as sentinels of ancient geological artistry. 2 The vibrant pulse of Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is epitomized in its abundant wildlife, a testament to the region’s rich biodiversity. Amongst the rustling leaves and blooming wildflowers, visitors are often graced by the delicate fluttering of butterflies. In their myriad colors and patterns, these winged beauties weave through the air, adding an element of enchantment to the sanctuary. They are silent storytellers of a habitat where various species coexist, from the graceful deer that roam the meadows to the songbirds that serenade the skies, each creature adding a distinct note to the sanctuary’s harmonious symphony of life.


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3 The trails at Raven Run offer more than a simple walk through nature—they are a journey through varying terrains, each offering a unique sensory experience. The sanctuary is home to diverse trails catering to explorers of all levels, offering serene walks and challenging hikes.


4 4 Each viewpoint at Raven Run offers a unique perspective, where the merging horizons of water, earth, and sky narrate a silent yet evocative symphony of natural grandeur, untouched and unmarred by the hands of time. Every glance reveals the delicate brushstrokes of nature’s artistry, invoking a sense of awe and reverence in the beholder.

5 5 Each path is intricately designed to lead visitors through different ecological zones, unveiling hidden glades, panoramic outcrops, and picturesque stream crossings. Here, every footfall is a dance with nature, and every trail a narrative of ecological wonders waiting to be discovered, offering an intimate passage into the heart of Kentucky’s majestic landscapes.

Whispers of the Wild Unveiling the Mysteries of Raven Run Nature Sanctuary


By Ray Hunter Photography Courtesy of Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

midst the iconic landscapes of the Bluegrass State, there exists a haven where the natural world and human spirit unite in an intimate dance of discovery and serenity. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, the largest city park in Lexington, has over 734 acres of pristine land that encapsulates Kentucky’s innate beauty. It is a place where one can transcend the bustle of urban life and embark upon a journey of stillness and connection with nature.

“The Owl Prowl programs at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary are some of the highest attended programs at the park all year,” Chris said. “During this night hike, participants get to experience Raven Run after-hours and be guided by knowledgeable staff through the park in search of owls. It’s a great opportunity for participants to learn, listen, and potentially see one of the more mysterious animals that call Raven Run Nature Sanctuary home.”

Chris Poehner has been the Recreation Manager at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary for two years, bringing dedication and expertise to his role.

But Raven Run is not just a sanctuary for the native wildlife. It’s a refuge for the human soul. In this secluded space, the constant noise of the modern world fades into a distant memory. Visitors are encouraged to pause, breathe in the pure, unadulterated air, and witness the unblemished sky stretching infinitely above. In the midst of nature’s beauty, one rediscovers a forgotten harmony intrinsic to the human spirit.

“Based on my interactions with visitors, I understand how important the park is to Lexington and surrounding communities,” Chris said. The sanctuary showcases a rich biodiversity, featuring over 600 species of plants, a diverse array of wildlife, and a unique blend of ecosystems. A walk through its well-maintained trails is akin to flipping through the pages of a live encyclopedia of flora and fauna. The magnificence of wildflowers, the whispers of towering trees, and the enchanting calls of birds create a symphony of sounds and sights that awakens the dormant naturalist in every visitor. “One of the most popular scenic destinations at Raven Run is the Kentucky River Overlook,” Chris said. “This picturesque location provides visitors with an elevated, expansive view of the Kentucky River palisades.” Each trail, marked and unmarked, invites exploration. Over 10 miles of paths unravel through the dense woods, rolling meadows, and alongside the tranquil creek, each turning to unveil a new aspect of nature’s artwork. For the avid bird watcher, the orchestra of over 200 species of birds adorn the skies and fill the atmosphere with their melodious tunes. For the botanist at heart, the diverse range of plant species, each with its distinct aesthetic and ecological narrative, unravels a living tapestry of biodiversity.

“Our staff work hard to ensure the park is accessible, safe, and enjoyable for all our visitors, whether you’re there to attend a program like one of our Owl Prowls or just looking to enjoy a peaceful hike through the woods,” Chris said. In a world perpetually rushing towards the future, Raven Run Nature Sanctuary stands as a bastion of the eternal, echoing the timeless dance of nature and spirit. It’s not just a visit but a pilgrimage, where each step unveils the profound beauty ingrained in Kentucky’s natural and historical tapestry. When one walks out of the sanctuary, it’s with a revitalized spirit, imbued with the quiet but potent whisper of the woods, the streams, and the skies that proclaim—in the midst of nature, we find not just the earth’s, but our own true essence. For those intrigued and wishing to explore the enchanting expanse of Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, a wealth of information awaits at www. The sanctuary’s official website is comprehensive, offering detailed insights into its rich biodiversity, historical significance, and the myriad of trails that beckon nature enthusiasts. November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens



60 Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023


November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens



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3280 Malone Dr Beaumont 4bd/3.5ba | 4,392 sq ft $744,900

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2021 Realtor of the Year - Bluegrass Realtors l 62 Kentucky Homes & Gardens November/December 2023


November/December 2023 Kentucky Homes & Gardens



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Approximately 464 acres of prime development land bordered by city on three sides and adjacent to East Jessamine Schools. Property may be purchased as a whole, approximately 464 acres, or as two separate parcel. The bypass bisects this property. Total Acerage - 464 Acres - Price Per Acre - $32,000 - $14,848,000 Parcel A - 294 Acres - Price Per Acre - $33,000 - $9,702,000 Parcel B - 170 Acres - Price Per Acre - $35,000 - $5,950,000







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