By Michelle Aiello


In March 2017, Conor and Nathalie McCaughley and their children Vanessa (11), Jack (6), and Abigail (18); moved into their dream home. With 10-foot ceilings, decorative finish details and trim work, oversized crown molding and baseboards, the 6,500 square foot estate has the look of timeless construction, even though it was just built. And at just fifteen minutes from downtown and in the midst of beautiful Bluegrass horse country, the McCaughley home is truly the best of both worlds.

Conor was a trainer for Greengate Farms before founding his building company, Eirecon LLC, in 2001. Under his and Nathalie’s direction, the home was built over the course of ten months. Since Eirecon specializes in both residential and equine facilities, they were able to create a customized home for the family, plus a competition size arena with dustless surface, and a 14-stall Sport Horse barn.

Nathalie McCaughley, who is an Executive Vice-President with General Electric, said that both she and her husband grew up with horses. Originally from France and Ireland respectively, the couple built their home with the intention of getting back into the equine environment. Nathalie explained that aside from their family’s needs (“Our daughter Vanessa is an avid rider and has three horses on site, and our son plays baseball and flag football”), another major reason for building the barn was to accommodate both local boarders and seasonal boarders from Florida for the show season at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Since the home was built from scratch, the McCaughleys had the opportunity to design a floor plan that truly reflected their needs and lifestyle. It had to feel cozy, and it was important to invest in building it in a way that would be cost effective, including a geothermal cooling and heating system and spray foam insulation.   

“It’s really a dream come true."

They worked with Lexington design firm Schnabel Cashman Interiors –owned by Jennifer Schnabel, Julie Cashman and Elizabeth Schnabel.

“We handle all projects as a team,” said Schnabel Cashman. “We enjoy working closely with our clients to create interiors that are a reflection of each individual’s aesthetic goal. Nathalie was a pleasure to work with.  She had an excellent vision of an equestrian manor home with a European feel. We enjoyed helping her design and create her dream home. A home where she could entertain large groups of close friends and enjoy her family.”

“The Schnabel Cashman design team helped us with the space planning of the first floor,” said Nathalie.  From the beginning Nathalie knew the look she wanted and how she wanted the house to function; she just needed assistance getting there. “The first time we met, I knew they were going to listen and advise me without telling me my ideas were bad,” she laughed.

A major goal was to emulate the style of older French country manors—tones of light blue and cream accented by black lacquered interior doors. She created a Pinterest board for each room of the house, and handed it off to the design team so they could get a feel for the style.

As in many older homes, the doors and ceilings are all ornamented with beautiful trim, and the front door is framed in what Nathalie describes as a “beautiful custom fan light.” That was a “must have” that nearly fell through because of the cost involved, but Nathalie maintains that it was worth it. Schnabel Cashman said, “We spent a lot of time discussing the architectural details. Conor loves trim work and wanted it to look very classic and timeless. Well designed and fabricated trim work is what can set a well-constructed home apart. The trim carpenter, Jeff Lynch, fabricated a beautiful finished product -- the attention to detail shows.”

One of Nathalie’s biggest  “must haves” was the Stark needlepoint wool runner for the staircase. “I said, ‘No matter how the big picture looks in the end, I’d like to have an animal print runner on the foyer stairs,’” said Nathalie.

“I wanted it to be classy and soothing, with a little spice here and there.”

To incorporate the runner (fabricated by Carpet Works), Schnabel Cashman began pulling in pops of black for the doors, the stairs and banister. The look came together beautifully.

On the main level, to the right and left of the staircase are the living room and dining room. Both echo a European manor home with pale blue walls, and custom furniture and accessories. The designers carefully selected several French antiques in honor of Nathalie’s heritage. Four antique French maps hang in the living room, along with an antique gilded mirror and chandelier.

The formal dining room’s Lee Jofa toile wallpaper adds an updated classic touch. Nathalie explained, “Since I’m French and my husband is Irish, when our relatives come from Europe they all stay here with us. We don’t entertain a lot, but when we do, we have forty or forty-five people here.”

Like many families, out of all the rooms in their home, the McCaughleys spend the most time in the kitchen. “I love to cook, with my family hanging out close by, so it made sense to have a large kitchen,” said Nathalie. Designed by Schnabel Cashman and Kitchen Concepts and decorated in tones of crisp white with pops of blue, the spacious, sunny room is as beautiful as it is functional. Conor casually mentioned one of the kitchen’s most ingenious details - the large, central island (from Kentucky Marble and Granite) is moveable. “We just put it on furniture pads,” he said.

The adjoining butler’s pantry (not pictured) is painted a striking shade of deep cobalt and features gold-toned hardware for a luxurious look, and to the left of the kitchen is an extra large mudroom (not pictured) for all of the kids’ belongings. “Since the kids are heavily involved in different activities such as horse riding, baseball, flag football, and soccer, it made sense to plan a very large mudroom that could accommodate this dynamic,” said Nathalie.

Just off the kitchen is a charming half bath with Chenonceau wallpaper from Schumacher and antique gold accents.

Unlike many homeowners who have done a custom build, the McCaughleys chose not to make the floor plan of the kitchen and family room an open concept. “I wanted to have the luxury of isolating the kitchen mess from the great room when I cook,” said Nathalie. “Plus, if you think about it, it gets pretty noisy when you have everything open.”

Both the kitchen and family room offer views of the expansive back patio area, which overlooks the beautiful rolling hills of horse country. Brick pavers in a traditional Herringbone pattern, a row of white columns and a light blue painted bead board ceiling evoke the warm southern style of the property on which this home sits.

“We wanted (the outdoor space) to be very wide and large to both enjoy the view and entertain,” said Nathalie. For landscaping (designed by Tay Breene and maintained by the Crase Group), they went simple and elegant: “We wanted minimum maintenance with lots of green and some white hydrangeas.” In a stroke of luck, the outdoor area, which is wired for sound, is situated in such a way that there is almost always a breeze. Since Conor works in the building industry, he used his insider knowledge to make small, cost-effective changes. For example he used LED stairwell lights to illuminate the patio from above, which are much less expensive than outdoor LEDs.

The bold staircase leads to a landing that has been painted white with dark hardwood flooring for a touch of contrast. The dark floorboards are irregularly sized, the way you might see in an old European manor. Antique gold sconces with a tassel detail illuminate the space. “I love tassels,” Nathalie said. Dual oval windows overlook the outdoor scenery. “The addition of the oval windows helped to create a classic designed home that looked more old than new” said Schnabel Cashman.

The second level consists of a master bedroom, three other bedrooms, and a guest corridor. The master bedroom and guest room both have adjoining balconies and baths.

The master bath is outfitted in Carrara marble with a soaking tub, his-and-her vanities and a beautiful shower.

The family has only lived in the home for a short time, but it’s clearly a place where everyone loves to be. As Nathalie put it, “It’s really a dream come true. We’ve wanted to create this home for many years but never thought the opportunity would arise – an equestrian estate, with a Kentucky horse farm view, and in this area (Old Richmond Road/Delong/Walnut Hill), just minutes from downtown. When asked about her favorite element of the home, she said, “The fact that it was designed by us, for us. Over the course of a week, our family uses every space in this house at some point. We have been here for five months now, and there is not one thing we would change. I guess we can call it a success!”