Pat and Brenda Mercurio had just settled into their home in south Lexington and were in Florida for the winter when they got the call that a water pipe had burst and flooded their home.
Pat remembers it clearly. “That was the day we had 18-below-zero temperatures here,” he recalls.
Son-in-law Jimmy Flynt dropped by one morning to check on the house. When he opened the garage door, water that had been running since the night before came pouring out. “If he hadn’t stopped by when he did, it would have been a lot worse. The kitchen was destroyed. The downstairs was destroyed. It destroyed 80 percent of the floors in the house,” Pat said.
The Mercurios wasted no time hiring Lexington builder Jimmy Nash to rebuild the interior. They entrusted their son-in-law and his wife Jayme (Brenda’s daughter) with the task of making decisions and overseeing the eight-month project. Impressed with the results, the Mercurios decided to start a home improvement business, The Painted Horse on Richmond Road, which Jimmy and Jayme run. Pat helps out there occasionally.
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A native New Yorker, Pat retired from Wall Street 15 years ago, two months before 9/11. Brenda, who is from Paintsville, moved to Lexington in 1991 following the death of husband Mark Trimble. In January 2012, she and Pat crossed paths at an Italian restaurant in Marco Island, Fl. that Brenda had chosen at random. She took a seat next to Pat, a regular, and ordered dinner.
Gregarious and generous, Pat offered the pretty, genteel lady with the Southern accent a slice of his pizza while she waited for her own. “It was love at first bite,” he quipped. Then he asked her to go to a movie at the theatre a few yards from the restaurant.
“I thought there was no harm in it, so I went,” Brenda said. About halfway through the movie, Pat kissed Brenda’s hand. She didn’t appreciate the gesture and walked out.
“I’m Italian!” Pat said with feigned exasperation. “It’s what we do!”
“When Jimmy and Jayme came for a visit and heard the story, Jimmy said, ‘I can’t believe you did that! He was probably a nice guy,” Brenda continued.
Problem was, she didn’t know the Italian hand-kisser’s name, so she went back to the restaurant and asked the bartender. “I sent him a note and said I owed him dinner for my rude behavior. We talked long-distance the whole month of February and started dating in March.”
On October 4, 2014, they married under a tent in their back yard.
There’s something beautiful to see at every turn in the Mercurio’s 7,358-square-foot home — fine art that Pat has collected over the years, gently curving walls, outrageously thick crown moulding, faux paint finishes and more.
However, it’s the hearth room and the 20-foot-high fireplace made of chunks of cannel coal — Jimmy’s idea — that get most of the attention. “Two of my sons are in the coal business, and their father was in the coal business,” Brenda said. “The guys who built this had to cut the coal. They were covered in coal dust, just like they’d been in the mines.”
The Mercurios expanded their outdoor living space by adding a patio with brick pillars off the family room and a pergola for the patio off the kitchen.
Derrick Whitaker of Creative Kitchen & Bath used a combination of Mouser and Habersham cabinetry to achieve old world charm in the spacious kitchen. Equipped with a SubZero refrigerator, Viking gas range, and Asko dishwasher and anchored by a big granite-topped island, it handles a crowd with ease.
“When we have family dinners, there are about 18 of us,” said Brenda, who has five children and seven grandchildren, most of whom live nearby; Pat’s children live in New York. “We needed more space than we had with the original kitchen.”
“The only fault I have with this house is the dining room. It could be a little bigger. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we set up tables out here, but it works and it’s fine,” said Brenda, pointing to the two-story entry. A big ol’ sparkling chandelier catches the light from windows across the back of the house and reflects it onto the travertine marble floor below. A mural of a landscape has images of the couple’s three deceased dogs tucked into the corner behind the grand piano. It is one of several hand-painted surfaces created by faux finish specialists Ann Little and Steve Walker of Lexington. Another is the hand-painted ceiling compass in Pat’s office.
The elegant curved double staircase leads from the entry to five ensuites and a sitting room on the second floor. “Between Jayme, Kandy (Sutton of Ryser’s Inc., East Bernstadt, Ky.) and me, we re-did it all,” Brenda stated. Soft, muted colors provide a soothing backdrop that doesn’t compete with the natural beauty of the home’s 10-acre setting.
The 4,072-square-foot basement has something for everyone, according to Brenda. “The whole basement is a play area,” she said. In summer, it and the new screened room serve as a staging area for the t-shaped outdoor pool.
During cold weather, the family still finds plenty to do without ever bumping into each other. There’s a billiard tables, an exercise room enclosed by glass on two sides, and a home theater with a popcorn machine and an old pinball machine.
“Of course the grandchildren love it, but Pat and I like to watch movies and ballgames down here, too,” Brenda said. “He didn’t understand college basketball till he got to Kentucky.”
“I was born in Manhattan, grew up in Queens, and now I’m a Kentucky boy,” Pat proclaimed. “I’m a basketball nut just like the rest of them.”