When Elizabeth Leo married her husband, Dale, he already owned the home at 1204 Fontaine Road, a 2,700-square foot, traditional American Four Square built in the 1930s.
Once Elizabeth moved in, she and Dale utilized her knack for interior design to transform the former-bachelor pad into a warm and inviting family home that’s been the perfect spot to raise their two sons, William, 5, and James, 2, and their dog, Bear Bear, a rescued Great Pyrenees.
Between 2011 and 2014, the couple renovated all the home’s systems – including installing a new roof and windows, all new electric wiring, and a three-zone HVAC system, plus modern PVC plumbing to replace the home’s dated iron pipes.
They also completely redesigned and modernized the home’s 1950s-era back addition, transforming it from a former office and workout room to a stunning first-floor master suite, complete with adjoining master den, a walk-in closet and a spa-like bathroom with dual modern vanities, his-and-her steam shower and a jetted, whirlpool tub.
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When redesigning the master bedroom, the couple moved the room’s former windows from a side wall that faced a neighboring home to the back wall – and also added double-sided French doors – in order to enhance the space with views of, and access to, the home’s large, beautifully landscaped backyard, which was featured on the 2016 Ashland Neighborhood Association’s Porch and Garden tour.
In the bathroom, an expansive octagonal window over the tub allows for uninterrupted views of the private, tree-lined backyard while bathing. “The other night, I was able to take a bath while watching it snow. It was beautiful,” said Elizabeth, a full-time stay at home mom and Georgia native, who met her husband, Dale, an entrepreneur, after moving to Lexington to attend college at UK.
The original, front portion of the home retains its original floor plan and many of its original fixtures and design elements, including the original chandelier and lighting medallion in the dining room – whose pink and green color pattern was the inspiration for Elizabeth’s bold green color choice on the walls. The hardwood floors are original throughout, as is the wood mantel on the working fireplace in the front, formal living room. The interior natural wood doors, many of which feature an artistic inlay embellishment, are original throughout the home as well, and most still include their original glass hardware.
“I’ve loved that the front of the home is more traditional and the back allows you to have the comforts and updates that so many of us want and need,” said Elizabeth, who has incorporated many Asian-inspired elements and Leo family heirlooms into the décor of the home, a nod to the Taiwanese heritage of her husband, Dale, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s.
The first-floor kitchen has also been modernized and features stainless steel appliances, a brick accent wall, granite countertops and a decorative beam that was salvaged from a former tobacco barn.
“We love to entertain. Our home is like a revolving door,” said Elizabeth. “And the flow of our first floor is ideal for that. Often, the men will congregate in the master bedroom den, while the women gather in the more formal front living room. But since both rooms flow right off of the kitchen and dining room, we can all eat together.”
Over the years, the Leos have adapted the home’s rooms to meet their needs, as their family has grown. One of the home’s three upstairs bedrooms, a former sleeping porch that had been enclosed by a previous owner, retains its treehouse-like feel thanks to its wraparound windows that overlook the backyard. While Dale originally used it as a home office, it’s now their son James’ bedroom.
“One of my favorite things about this house is how versatile all the rooms can be. The master den was twice used as a nursery, for example. This house has really let me change things around, with simple cosmetic changes.”
The home features ample storage and has the potential for even more rooms: The original second-floor master bedroom includes access stairs to the home’s third floor, which could be finished into additional living space. Downstairs, the basement currently includes a laundry room, but could also be finished out more fully.
Elizabeth said she and Dale designed their home’s major renovations with a goal of making it their forever home. But a recent job opportunity for Dale is taking the family to Nashville, which is why they’ve placed the home on the market.
“We really designed our improvements with no intention whatsoever of ever leaving. Our decisions were made with the goal of our family growing up and growing old here,” she said. “The master bathroom is all handicapped accessible, for example.”
And, while Elizabeth is excited for the move, which will enable her husband to expand his business and continue his work on the alumni board of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, she also feels leaving the Ashland Park Neighborhood will be bittersweet.
“This is a great family neighborhood. The neighbors here become your friends. I know everyone on a three-block radius,” Elizabeth said. “Our boys drive their Power Wheels up and down Fontaine, and it’s so safe and accessible to Chevy Chase and Romany Road. It’s very walkable. We love heading to Graeter’s and Charlie Brown’s with the boys. And the Ashland Neighborhood Association is very active, sponsoring picnics and other events. It’s been wonderful to have that sense of community here.”
This week’s featured home is listed with Realtor Mina Mattone of Bluegrass Sotheby's International Realty.