Lansdowne home retooled for the new millennium

Diane and John Atchison are right where they want to be. In fact they often refer to their remodeled three-bedroom brick ranch in Lansdowne as their “forever home.”

“This is the first time we’ve created anything that we knew we were going to stay in,” Diane said. “It’s the first house we haven’t had to give consideration to resale, because we’re not selling.”

John Atchison and the award-winning Atchison Heller Construction have been building and remodeling in Lexington for nearly 40 years. But back in the day when John was a fledgling builder, there was a lot of moving around for the Atchison family.

“There was a 10 year stretch when we moved nine times,” Diane said. “We moved through three pregnancies, but we had it down, and it’s all been worth it.”

The home is chock-full of amazing finishes and details, most notably the reclaimed barn wood creatively utilized throughout – custom cabinetry in the living room, exposed beams in the vaulted ceiling, accents that enclose a private back patio, and even the kitchen table is artfully crafted from barn wood.

“This wood is all from a 150-year-old barn on my father’s farm in Pendleton County,” Diane said. “I saw this barn every day of my life growing up. My parents are both gone, and it’s really important to me to have something from the farm. I feel like we’ve brought the homestead here.”

“Actually we hadn’t even bought this house when the old barn was taken down,” John said. “We saved it with the idea that we would have some really nice antique barn wood that we could use on a project somewhere.”


An astute real estate agent was the first to give John and Diane a heads up about the available house at 801 Cahaba Road – a phone call from none other than their daughter, Anne Hart Cornett.

At that time two years ago, Diane was in the middle of volunteering for the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships, a charity event that has been one of her passions for the last 20 years. John was similarly wrapped up in a construction project, but hearing the urgency in their daughter’s voice, they found a way to break away to take a look at the property.

It was a well-built ranch in an established and desirable neighborhood. A good investment if the price was reasonable.

“The market’s been hot for houses like this,” John said. “We immediately decided to make an offer. We thought we could figure out a way to remodel it and move in. But if we didn’t, we could modernize it and sell it.”

The neighborhood represented a homecoming for John.

“I grew up just a block from here on Overbrook,” John said. “I knew everybody on this street and the street over.”

Diane was also feeling the pull.

“The big yards are really the attraction in Lansdowne,” Diane said. “It’s convenient to shopping and restaurants, and all our friends are around here too.”

The Atchisons did an extensive renovation that included removing the roof over the middle section of the home to make way for a vaulted ceiling that runs over the living room and into the sun room. The entry was moved back, a fireplace was removed, a hall was eliminated, and walls were removed, giving the home a modern and open feel.

Well-conceived additions across the back of the home yielded a new master suite, the sun room, and a breakfast room.

“It was a total remodel,” John said. “The house was pretty much still original with little done for the last 45 years. Original kitchen, original baths.”


After a year of renovations, the house was ready for move-in by June of last year. The overhaul turned a choppy ranch into a modern marvel that allows for gracious living as well as plenty of space for entertaining.

A centerpiece of the living room is the dry stack fireplace which was crafted from native Kentucky limestone by Renner and Sons.

The kitchen shines with clean white inset cabinets, handmade-look subway tiles, natural quartzite counters, and all high-end Bosch appliances.

A SmartHome Control 4 operating system allows the Atchisons to easily dim lights, stream high-resolution music, turn up the heat, lock the doors or arm the security system from a touchscreen tablet or a mobile app.

One of the more quirky features is the Kohler Water Tile Ambient Rain overhead shower in the master suite. The setup allows one to shower while basking in mood-enhancing colored light sequences such as sunset, sunrise, sunny clouds or reflecting water.

The Atchisons opened up their doors to the public for the 2016 Tour of Remodeled Homes, and as a result the home was honored with the People’s Choice Award.

The home took the additional traffic in stride. “We had 700 people through in two days,” Diane said.

To get away from it all, John and Diane enjoy retreating to the back porch where they are embraced by the warmth of rustic wood finishes and natural surroundings. Overhead an antique cast iron hay trolley hangs from reclaimed barn wood beams.

A magnificent Japanese maple, a holdover from the original homeowners, takes center stage.

“This is our favorite spot,” Diane said. “It’s really private out here.”

Looking across the back lawn there are more reminders of Diane’s Pendleton County home – a trio of the massive barn beams fashioned into an arbor that Diane calls her “wood-henge.”

“We really hope one of our children will eventually live in this house,” Diane said. “There’s a lot of our personalities built into this place and we hope our descendants are able to stay here for generations.”