Amy Carpenter’s love story is set in the heart of Paris.
“It felt right, and I just knew,” she says, describing that moment 18 years ago when she fell instantly for her historic Bourbon County home.
At the time, the home was an accountant’s office with some aesthetic shortcomings, namely lime-green shag carpet, bare-bones decor and phone cables running wild. But Carpenter recognized the gem within. “You could see the details of the woodwork, the staircase,” she says. “You could see what was underneath – the bones of it. Structurally it was in very good shape. It just needed a lot of love.”
Since that first encounter, Carpenter has given her heart to the four-bedroom home at 406 Pleasant Street. Built in 1825 and situated in the Downtown Paris Historic District, the John G. Martin Home, named for the prominent lawyer for whom it was built, is a two-story Federal-style home located in one of Kentucky’s most enchanting downtowns.
“I love the feel of it – the height of the ceilings, the floor under my feet when I walk into the rooms,” Carpenter says. “It just has character.”
“I think you walk in, and it’s automatically a home and not a house.”
That character can be seen in the beautifully restored ash floors, elegant winding staircase, gorgeous fireplaces and soaring cabinets throughout. On the second floor, an exquisite crystal chandelier – discovered packed away in a closet – was restored by Shannon Lamp Service in Lexington and is thought to be original to the home. “At night, the shadows are just really beautiful,” Carpenter says.
Wide windowsills at the front of an upstairs bedroom, which the family uses as a playroom and office, are the perfect perch to soak up afternoon sun. It’s where Carpenter’s 11-year-old daughter likes to read books and where the cat loves to admire the squirrels.
An enclosed breakfast porch and kitchen with pine flooring are part of a two-story addition built on to the home more than a century ago, bringing it to nearly 3,200 square feet. When Carpenter moved in, she gave the spacious kitchen a facelift, boosting the storage space with attractive mahogany cabinets and a central island. She also added a utility room and a half-bath downstairs and a large fenced-in play area in the side yard.
“It’s a great family home,” she says. “There’s hardly a room we don’t spend time in.”
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
Complementing the splendor of the home is an eclectic mix of antique and modern pieces, giving it a cozy and inviting feel.
“I like having things that belonged to family members,” Carpenter says, “and being able to put a spin on them.”
Among her treasures are refurbished kitchen chairs that belonged to her grandmother; her parents’ hutch – now painted gray; and a marble slab that her great-grandmother used for making cream candy. An antique harvest table in the dining room and a grand buffet, built in Bourbon County, are among her finds from local antique stores.
“My dad loves to look around and find antiques and neat pieces,” she says. He’s brought her many of the white milk glass pieces and collectibles she has on display.
“It’s just kind of a fun collection of stuff over the years,” she says.
THE PERFECT LOCATION
A former caterer, restaurateur and retailer, Carpenter – whose businesses included Migdalia’s Bistro and Peacock Ado – has been pleased with her choice location at the corner of Fourth and Pleasant streets. For many years, she could walk back and forth to work. It’s also fun living within easy distance of shopping, restaurants and downtown events, like the city ArtWalks.
Rooster Brewing, a popular craft brewery, is a few short blocks away at 609 Main Street, and Hartfield & Co., the city’s first bourbon distillery in nearly a hundred years, is the next block over on Pleasant. “We’ve got nice neighbors,” Carpenter says.
Her corner of Paris is the perfect place to enjoy the city’s charms.
“There’s a beautiful view of the courthouse. When they have events downtown, you can hear the music playing,” she says. “It’s a nice place to be part of the community. But, yet, I think I could come in here and close the doors and feel private as well.”
And with Lexington, Georgetown, Cynthiana and Winchester just down the road, Carpenter says, “one of the nice things about being in Paris is it’s kind of like being in the center of a wheel. In 10 or 15 minutes, you can go in any direction and be in so many places.”
While she’s excited for her next chapter – she and her fiancé are starting a new home together – it’s hard to bid farewell. “I’m very excited for what’s to come, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to a home,” Carpenter says. “We’ve loved living here. If I could pick it up and move it some place, I would.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Jennifer Vories of Keller Williams Realty and Christy Pellegrino of Keller Williams Bluegrass.