Surrounded by pristine landscaping in a park-like setting overlooking South Elkhorn Creek is the Westmorland subdivision’s reinvented, energy-efficient smart house.
The seven acres on Gloucester Drive were once completely overgrown and served as a nursery for trees that would be transplanted around the neighborhood. Before buying the property in 1995, Nancy and Carey Smith asked their friend and realtor to find a lot under 10 acres with trees and water.
“She called and said, ‘Have I got a lot for you’,” Nancy said.
In 2000, they began building their home, completing it in three years. A bridge over a moat leads visitors to the house’s unique front entrance.
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“It was a feat of landscape architecture to get the water into the wash or around the house,” she said.
With appliances breaking down and other aspects of the house going out of date, the couple decided to completely renovate their home in 2016. It took 18 months, but all the contemporary additions have made living in their house easy—and pretty cool.
“Every time we turned around, there was something else to do. I said, ‘Let’s just upgrade and make it exactly what we want,’” Nancy said.
With the house being in a completely private setting, there are many windows but no window treatments, which lets lots of light spill in during the day. The bright house becomes a beacon at night at the end of its long driveway.
“I wanted to be able to open the windows and hear the creek,” she said. “We have operable skylights that open in the hall and bathroom. The clerestory windows open mechanically. We can completely open up the house.”
Nancy wanted to refurbish the house with unusual features; things other houses in Lexington didn’t have.
“What’s great about this house are things you don’t see,” she said.
Like the radiant heat, which boils water in pipes beneath the floor and heats the house. There’s no forced air, it’s perfectly quiet and delivers low utility bills.
“I really like it here in the winter. It’s cozy and I don’t have to stand under a vent to get warm,” she said.
Other unusual features are the home’s plaster walls, brushed aluminum baseboards, doors resembling shoji screens, the rubber gymnasium floor in the basement, multiple bookshelves, tall maple ceilings and bamboo flooring with cherry trim.
“Bamboo was a conscious choice. It’s more linear,” she said.
The Smiths installed a whole house automation system. Their lights, security system, music, temperature and anything electronic can be controlled by an app on their phones. The HVAC system is new with high efficiency and can be put on a schedule to warm up or cool off the house before the owners come home. They installed Haiku Lights, which their former company, Big Ass Fans, once manufactured, and they’re programmed to sense motion and change brightness and color.
“You can set it to a certain time and the lights will dim. If you get out of bed in the middle of the night for water, (the lights) will sense it and come one. There’s no stumbling around looking for lights,” she said.
The master closet is conveniently connected to the laundry room, flowing into the master bathroom. The toilet lid opens when you walk in and there are speakers installed in the ceiling and rain sensors in the skylights. It has many shelves with LED lighting that cast rainbows on the floors. The large steam shower has changing lights and can emit eucalyptus into the air.
“It’s nice for colds. It really opens up my sinuses,” Nancy said.
Her favorite area, though, is the kitchen. It has refrigerated drawers, glass drawer and cabinet pulls from Bulgaria, a uniquely designed backsplash, blue australe granite countertops and a disguised dishwasher that opens with a knock.
“I like the kitchen. The kitchen is really easy to deal with,” she said. “It’s really easy to reach things and there’s lots of storage so you’re not really worried about heavy shopping trips (and trying to find places to put things).
As a family, the Smiths have chopped their own wood on the property, enjoyed time together by the fireplace in the winter, played games and watched their son grow up and enjoy the basement space away from the main living area with his friends.
“I love this house. It really was a labor of love,” she said. “When you a build a house from the ground up, it has so much of you. Every little piece.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Susan Fister of Rector Hayden Realtors.