Homeseller

A Zen experience: Family’s dream home is a calming, Japanese-inspired dwelling

By Kendall Fletcher

It all happened fast for Shiraz El Sabbagh, her husband, Firas, and their family when they moved to Lexington in 2017. Shiraz said they only looked at two or three houses before stumbling upon 2205 Guilford Lane in Beaumont Reserve.

“We moved to Lexington and bought this house so quickly. We fell in love with it as soon as we stepped into it. We knew it was the right one for us,” she said.

Firas worked for CHI as a doctor, so the location worked well for them, as did its proximity to schools, grocery stores, restaurants and shopping. It was the house’s calming qualities, though, that won the El Sabbaghs over.

“We love contemporary, nothing traditional,” Shiraz said.

The couple who built the home were inspired by the wife’s Japanese heritage—and it’s evident even on the outside. Along with a tranquil Japanese garden, the porch was designed with a torii gate in mind, which are customarily found at the entrance of a sacred or holy place in Japan.

Just through the front door, pendant lights hang above, mimicking stars in the night sky. The master bathroom was customized with a tall, Japanese-style tub and steam shower, and the second floor walks out onto a stargazing deck. The house also holds deep storage under the stairs, which Shiraz said is a type of storage popular in Japanese culture.

“It has this Zen feel,” she said. “This house makes you feel like you’re in a spa. (It has) huge, wide windows, especially in the dining room. They go from the top to bottom. When it’s snowing, any room you’re in, you see the snow. When it’s the fall, you can see the colors of the leaves and the trees. The sunshine comes in from every angle. This house actually brings the outside in.”

Shiraz said every room is designed in a size to serve its particular purpose. Her heart beats for the kitchen, which features lots of wood, clean lines, plant inspirations and, of course, beautiful outdoor views that let in natural light.

“As a wife, I love the kitchen. It’s a dream kitchen. It has two islands, a trough sink (for sushi, chopped vegetables and ice), a huge fridge, a pantry that holds up to a year’s supply of food. It’s amazing. I love cooking.”

She likes how the kitchen flows into the family room in an L-shape for effortless entertaining.

“You can fit 50 people at least (in the area). It’s great for parties,” she said.

Though it was a near-perfect house for them when they bought it, they’ve added their own touches, too. They finished the hardwood floors, put up wallpaper, painted, and updated the light fixtures. One of the most notable is the crystal chandelier that hangs over the stairwell.

“It takes time to do that type of job. Some people hire interior designers to do that, but I did it myself,” she said. “We put so much love into the house.”

And they love the minimal utility bills as well, she said.

“It’s is so energy efficient, based on geothermal heat and passive solar heat, which makes the most of the window placement and sunlight,” she said. “For a 5,800-square-foot house, we have the lowest bills. The water well makes the water bill super low.”

Shiraz enjoys the home’s simpler aspects, too, like having her coffee in the living room and looking out at the snow or rain, and sitting by the fireplace in the winter, which is also energy efficient as it retains heat in the house for long periods. She admires the bookcase that stretches from the first to the second floor, displaying the family’s books and décor. She’s also loved the surround sound system.

“I cook listening to my favorite music, (and when) we have dinner together. It’s such a blessing. We shower with the music on. It’s so soothing after a long day,” she said.

The El Sabbaghs have treasured making memories in the home—as well as in Lexington. Shiraz said she loves the experience of all four seasons, while Firas admires the city for its kind residents.

And the house itself has been everything they’ve wanted.

“It’s a special house,” Shiraz said.

This week’s feature home is listed with Kitty Lane of Keller Williams Bluegrass Realty in Lexington. To see more images of the home, visit the Homeseller gallery at Kentucky.com.

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