Returning to Lexington for her retirement years was always in the cards for Amy Keough. And about a dozen years ago, the time was right to make the move.
She felt lucky to find an undeveloped lot on a quiet cul-de-sac near her childhood stomping grounds.
“I grew up in Chevy Chase on Colony Boulevard,” said Mrs. Keough, née Mudd. “I didn’t know Garden Grove Walk was back here.”
The four bedroom, five bath home with nearly 5,000 square feet of living space was inspired by the children’s classic “The Secret Garden.” A small color illustration from the book hangs just inside the thick oak front door.
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Storybook touches abound, from the conical front porch roof and oval accent windows outside to the natural oak floors, arched doorways and vaulted ceilings inside.
“I worked with a decorator friend and my builder Mike Kerwin to create an English country feel, with dashes of sentimentality,” Keough said.
In the front entry a built-in cabinet for car keys, purses and such stands as an example of Keough’s creative whimsy. The cabinet sports roll-away doors on top and cubbies below to store guest’s shoes as they enter the home.
Nearly every window in the home frames a lush green picture of the outdoor landscape. The half-acre property backs up to acres of green fields that surround the University of Kentucky women’s softball stadium in the distance.
Classic floral prints grace the curtains and upholstery of the living room where a window seat overlooks a weeping cherry planted in memory of Keough’s father. The walls surrounding the black granite fireplace are clad with a dignified cherry paneling look that was lifted from a local bank.
“My decorator and I saw it in Central Bank,” Keough said. “The deep black grooves in between are what makes it distinctive.”
It’s a library-like space devoid of a television where one easily slips into repose and reflection.
A TRIBUTE TO FAMILY AND FUN
The return to living in Lexington was bittersweet for Keough, because it was without Tom, her late husband.
“We were high school sweethearts,” Keough said. “We both went to Lexington Catholic. He was class president.”
After marrying in 1970, the couple headed north to Buffalo for a few years where Tom’s PhD in Chemistry landed him a job with Hooker Chemical. However, the majority of Tom’s career was spent with Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati where their two daughters, Laura and Christy, were raised.
“We always planned to come back to Lexington in retirement, and travel with the Wildcats,” Keough said. “He bled blue, and of course his family is here too.”
Being intimately involved in the homebuilding process empowered Keough to work through her loss.
“In the family room fireplace I have a stone mortared into the hearth from my mother’s old farm down in Bardstown,” Keough said. “As well as a stone from my dad’s farm down in Springfield. The builder stuck with me to get it all to look right.”
The large family room has a double tray ceiling and custom cherry cabinetry that matches the kitchen cabinetry, tying the large expanses together. The well-appointed kitchen features Corian countertops, a double oven.
Keough feels the home is at its best when filled with family and friends during University of Kentucky games.
“When people come over, which is often since I have a big family, there’s a nice flow between the family room and kitchen,” Keough said. “You can fit a lot of people in there.”
ACCESSIBILITY IN EVERDAY LIVING
The spacious first floor master suite comes with a raised fireplace – all the better for viewing from the bed – as well as separate vanities and whirlpool tub. French doors from the master bedroom open to a covered porch overlooking a saltwater Gunite pool.
During the home’s construction, a certified environmental accessibility consultant was brought in to make design recommendations.
“One of the best things she did was raising the dishwasher,” Keough said. “It makes a whole world of difference just bringing it up like that. You don’t have to bend over and strain your back.”
Doorways and halls throughout are extra wide and threshold transitions are nominal. A second master suite on the first floor was designed for total handicap accessibility and includes reinforced walls with grab bars, non-slip floors, a wheelchair friendly sink, and a no threshold shower.
There is a planned space in an adjacent sitting room where an elevator could be installed if desired.
The house is loaded with potential and possibilities. The second floor features two bedrooms each with attached bath, and a bonus TV room. The full basement is pre-plumbed for a full bath and has above ground windows and a walk out.
“It was really fun building this house, but I just don’t need this big of a place anymore,” Keough said. “I’m looking forward to doing more travelling. I’m keeping it spontaneous.”
“Maybe I’m ready for a tiny house,” she said with a smile.