Yes, the house at 704 Bullock Place is fabulous. Airy and contemporary. It's the result of a to-the-walls tear-down completed in 100 days last winter that gave new life to a house built in 1925.
But what owner-renovator Christian Erickson really wants to talk about is the garage.
"A dude needs a dude space," said Erickson, 53, visibly excited when showing off the newly painted yellow structure complete with space for two cars and a bonus room for grown-man toys — bicycles and a motorcycle. Erickson promises that the bonus room will soon be "tricked out" as the ultimate man cave.
"It's all about the garage," he said, with a grin. "Did I mention the garage?"
The financial planner will show off his home and garage as part of the first Mentelle Park Home and Garden Tour, 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 28.
In fact, getting the garage was really a deciding factor in how Erickson came to live in the house. When he decided to downsize from a 4,000-square-foot house in Chevy Chase — his kids are grown and in college — he knew he wanted to live near downtown.
He looked at plenty of properties, but none of them had the garage he was looking for, so he started considering options at 704 Bullock Place. Erickson has owned the building since 1986 as an investment property, renting it out over the decades as a four-plex. But he knew that the good bones of the pressed-brick house, originally built as a duplex, were the raw material of something that could be really special. And there was room for a garage in the back.
Erickson, who over the years has renovated more than 25 houses, went to his longtime collaborator, designer Lynn Pedigo, who drew up plans for a two-bedroom, two-bath home on the first floor, plus a garage out back. (There are two rental units upstairs.)
Erickson didn't find out the property wasn't zoned to include a garage until the demolition on the interior had begun. After jumping through some hoops, he ultimately obtained approval.
The overall renovation started in February, and Erickson moved in in May. From the beginning, he sought to preserve the feel of the nearly 100-year-old building while creating something contemporary and fresh.
A perfectionist, Erickson was involved in picking every finish, every light fixture, and he gets almost as excited talking about the state-of-the-art electrical wiring and plumbing as he does about the living space.
There are some quirky touches, including three sections of exposed brick lined up in a "soldier's course" over the thick-beamed headers of the original windows. He has framed the sections of part of the wall as equal parts aesthetic addition and conversation piece.
The original clawfoot bathtub has been reglazed and moved into an antique-looking but totally renovated bathroom off the living room.
Model cars, stacks of books, real vinyl records, and artwork reflecting Central Kentucky's equine heritage give the open floor plan a homey feel. There is a Sonos wireless music system to complete the ambience.
All in all, Erickson said, it's the kind of place he looks forward to coming home to.
"I love coming home," he said. It is due in no small part to the neighborhood and his neighbors.
"The vibe in this neighborhood is fantastic," he said. "I have the best neighbors in the world."
Beth Lowe, who is organizing the tour, said Mentelle Park area is a bit of a hidden gem.
It's north of East Main Street/Richmond Road between Bell Court and Kenwick. Most of the houses that are a part of the Mentelle Park Neighborhood Association were built between 1900 and 1926 in one of Lexington's first suburbs.
Lowe appreciates the variety of architecture in the neighborhood and the abundance of Craftsman-style houses.
Its location is a great selling point, she said: It's close enough to downtown to be walking distance to the Kentucky Theatre but just a short drive from the interstate. The area includes schools, houses of worship and retail spaces, three of which are included in the tour.
Money from the tour will go back to the association for improvement projects, including an effort to replace some trees.
Overall, she said, the Mentelle Park area is a place where people take pride in their homes and are excited to show off what makes their houses special.
Or, as in Erickson's case, a special house and one really sweet garage.