Toyota exec and wife appreciate tranquility of Keene Trace home

When you travel as much as retired Toyota executive Steve St. Angelo used to (read constantly), the comforts of home matter, perhaps more than ever.

His landing spot at 222 Keene Manor Circle in Nicholasville checks the three most important boxes—warm and inviting vibe, prime location on a private golf course with views that go on for days. and proximity to Blue Grass Field and the Toyota plant in Georgetown.

“Michele and I fell in love with the design and the backyard overlooking the golf course and farm,” Steve said, recalling the first time they toured the home. “Just walking in the house and out onto the back porch was so refreshing, relaxing. A really nice feeling.”

The two-story, faux finished barrel vault ceiling towers above guests to the 11,249-square-foot residence. Elegant, double-stacked wood columns and arched doorways flank the gallery-style entry and lead straight to the family room on the back of the house. “Danny (Adkins, the builder) said this house was the best work of art he ever created,” Steve said.

The dining room, living room, and the elaborate wood and wrought iron staircase sit just outside the arches. The arch theme also appears in the two-story wood-paneled office and in mouldings above interior doors and windows. In addition, every room has a specialty ceiling.

Originally a spec house, the structure was nearly complete when the St. Angelos first contemplated buying it. “We loved the design,” Steve said. “We customized it to fit our needs by changing and adding a lot of things-- color, light fixtures, circular drive with coach lamps and a fountain in the front, security system. We’ve relocated 12 times in my career, so we knew what we wanted.”

“Our goal was to achieve a warm inviting feel for our guests and for our family,” Michele added. “I think we accomplished that.”

The big, open kitchen already had rich, custom wood cabinetry with elaborate accent trim, granite countertops, and a walk-in pantry with almost as much shelf space as an old-fashioned mom-and-pop grocery store. It went from great to jaw-dropping with the addition of a tile backsplash surrounding big bay windows and a door to the expansive veranda overlooking Keene Run golf course and horses grazing on a farm beyond.

Certain sections of the deck have a roof to accommodate outdoor living, others are open to the sky. However, peace and tranquility abound, no matter where you sit. “Watching the birds, the horses, the golfers… it alleviates stress,” Steve said. “It’s where I’d go to have a glass of wine, watch tv, and do my paperwork.”

Large, open rooms and circulation that flows easily from inside to outside make the house perfect for entertaining. One of the couple’s most memorable parties was for presidents and guests of Toyota’s 14 plants in North America.

An engineer who once had a builder’s license, Steve indulged his “inner designer” by drawing the plans for the unfinished walkout basement. The home’s systems, such as HVAC, water, and storage space are clustered in the center, easily accessible but hidden. Arranged around the perimeter are the home theatre, wet bar, temperature-controlled wine room, family room and tatami room.

A separate private, quiet area, the tatami room is where Japanese may gather to eat, relax or sleep. “We’ve used it for small parties, family shabu shabu or other Japanese dinners, or just watching the wildcats on television,” Steve said. “I’m very proud of the basement, because I spent so much time designing it.”

The couple, who recently moved to Naples, Fl., miss their ol’ Kentucky home. “We didn’t realize how beautiful Kentucky is until we moved there,” Steve offered. “We miss the people even more. You take it for granted when you live there but when you move away, you realize that people in Kentucky are so, so nice,” Steve says.

Steve St. Angelo joined Toyota in 2005, after years at General Motors. The Detroit native became president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) in 2006 and a managing officer at the Japanese parent company in 2009. He was CEO of Toyota Latin America and the Caribbean and senior managing officer for Toyota Motor Corporation when he retired April 1.