Southern plantation home in Versailles a comfortable blend of old and new

Double porches. Above all, Tim and Donna Carroll wanted expansive double porches like those gracing many Southern plantation-style homes for the house they planned to build on 17 acres in Versailles.

“We wanted a design that would bring back memories of an older farmhouse, somewhat similar to the homes in Charleston, South Carolina,” Tim explained.

Columns, transoms, symmetrical facades and of course, deep porches extending the width of the main portion of the house, are a few of the distinguishing characteristics of the style. “We wanted the design to withstand the ‘test of time’ and be admired in the present and the future. I think we were able to capture that.”

In true Southern fashion, the two-story home at 2020 Carter Court in the Lancaster Place subdivision sits on an elevated foundation. The extra height makes the porches more prominent and enhances views of the surrounding farmland and paddocks. Handsome brick steps that lead to the inviting 600-square-foot porch add to its grandeur.

On the other side of the front door, Lexington architect Paul Lea and builder Ron Miller of Versailles merged the best of Southern and modern to satisfy Tim, an emergency room physician at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, and Donna, a former physical therapist and part-owner of Pretty in Pink in downtown Versailles. “The main thing we always wanted inside was a large kitchen, because that’s where 90 percent of the conversations with the kids take place, as well as homework,” Donna said.

Barber Cabinet Company designed and installed the L-shaped kitchen. Donna had always had dark cherry cabinets but changed course and went with ivory this time. “They have more of a cottage feel, which I like for this house,” she said.

She found the big copper farm sink on her own. “I will never not have a farm sink again,” she said. “I love it.”

On the opposite side of the room, a run of cabinetry that stores infrequently used dishes and serving pieces can be called into action when the Carrolls entertain. Located perpendicular to the island, there’s enough counter space for a drink station, food station or whatever is needed to keep traffic flowing.

The rear stairway to the second floor is located a few steps away. It’s the most direct route from the kitchen and garage to the four bedrooms and three bathrooms upstairs.

A wide opening trimmed in thick molding gently defines where the kitchen ends and the family room begins. “In most older style homes, you typically had a lot of smaller rooms,” Donna said. “I like an open-style floor plan, but people also need their own space at times.”

The stone fireplace in the family room soars 19 feet to the ceiling. In winter, a wall of windows and doors brings in the sun’s warmth, which rises to diffuse throughout most of the house. The geothermal heating system hardly breaks a sweat during mild winters.

There are transoms throughout the house, but none make a bolder statement than those in the dining room topping two sets of French doors. Red wallpaper with a subtle gold print frames the massive antique china cabinet — an old-fashioned wardrobe when Tim’s parents gave it to the couple. “We had it converted to a china cabinet with glass doors and custom shelving,” Donna explained. “It’s one of my favorite pieces of furniture in the house.”

The first-floor owners suite features a tray ceiling and gas fireplace in the bedroom and a walk-in tile shower and freestanding soaking tub in the bathroom. Four more bedrooms and three bathrooms, including a Jack-and-Jill, are on the second floor.

Another of Donna’s favorite spots is the loft area on the second floor. Outfitted with a sectional sofa and a big television, it’s where the family goes to watch football and basketball. “We watch movies in the basement,” Donna added.

Access to the 12-foot-by-50-foot upper porch also is here. Identical to the porch below, it has a wood floor made of ipe, super-dense Brazilian walnut that “won’t rot for a hundred years,” Donna quipped. An occasional coat of clear stain preserves the wood’s rich brown hues and keeps the floor looking good as new.

The couple spend a lot of time with their six horses and 14 alpacas. “We enjoy taking care of them,” Donna said. “We don’t get them to make our lives easier or for financial gain. We just love them and take care of them. They’re our therapy.

At the end of a long shift in the emergency room or at the shop, Tim and Donna like nothing more than keeping an eye on their animals from comfortable chairs on the upper porch. It’s also the best place to take in views of the farm’s pristine one-acre pond and to watch birds flit about. An added bonus is the relaxing sound of water shooting from the fountain and splashing onto the surface of the pond.

Even though the pond is stocked with bluegill, hybrid bluegill and bass, the Carrolls don’t fish it; they prefer to allow nature to take its course. “The pond attracts a lot of different bird species,” Donna said. “We let the birds do that.”

The pond also was a magnet for their children when they were growing up. “We floated a large inflatable pond trampoline every summer,” Tim recalled. “We loved swimming in the pond, as did all of our kids' friends. We had many outdoor cookouts and parties with our family that overflowed into the pond. It provided many wonderful memories.”

The children grew up and went off to college and work. Other than the loft and one bedroom, the second floor isn’t used much.

The alpaca population, on the other hand, has grown from 4 to 14. “We’d like to have a little more space for our animals, so we’ve decided to downsize our home and upsize the farm,” Donna said.

They recently put their home on the market and will move to Danville to be closer to family when it sells. With a smaller house and less finished mowing to do, Tim and Donna also expect to have more time to travel to Southern California, Charleston, SC and East Lansing, MI to see three of their children; son Brett Pennington is sticking close to home for now.

This week’s feature home is co-listed with Brad Lawson and Brenda Rollins of ERA Show Place Realty. An open house is scheduled for Sunday, February 19, from 1-3 p.m.