This Lexington home is full of life-simplifying details
When a local family hired a team consisting of Barrett Hudkins of Feather Your Nest Interior, Chris Russell of Cucina Kitchen and Bath, and Dwayne Anderson of House, they found that the creative energy and ideas contributed by all three professionals resulted in a product that was much greater than the sum of its parts. One of the homeowners’ favorite parts of the planning were her meetings with Hudkins and Russell. “They were always excited to show us their next idea or product. We started designing on paper long before we ever broke ground, and even then we were able to adapt during framing as the space evolved.”
The home was built by Justice Builders, and over a two-year planning process, the homeowners (a married couple with two young children), worked with their team of designers to create a home that wasn’t just beautiful, but functional at every turn. “We were the perfect team,” said Chris Russell, owner and designer at Cucina Kitchen and Bath.
“The homeowner likes attention to detail; she wants to know that she has a place for everything, so from the very beginning we were in my office going through every single cabinet and determining what was going to go in each one. There is attention to detail everywhere.”
The kitchen is one of the prime examples of this form-meets-function philosophy. The open concept space features an extra large quartz island (“a continent” as Russell calls it). The cabinetry is one of a kind, handcrafted by Cucina’s team of skilled artisans. The kitchen was a big leap of faith for the homeowner, because at a glance, there aren’t a lot of obvious wall cabinets. “We created a lot of drawers to store plates and dishes and it all had to function as a kitchen even though our first priority was beauty,” Russell explained.
Originally, the owners loved the look of marble countertops and wanted to have them installed in the new kitchen, but as Hudkins explained, marble isn’t an ideal choice for families with small children because it is easily stained and scratched. She managed to find a better solution that fit the family’s needs –a new quartz material that has a similar depth of color to Calcutta marble. It wasn’t quite on the market yet, but Quality Stone Countertops managed to procure it in time for the kitchen’s completion.
Beneath the beautiful countertops is a treasure trove of storage, including hidden compartments for a cordless vacuum, step stools and other essentials. “When I walk into this kitchen, I love that it has beauty and functionality, and they married both of those things together everywhere,” said the homeowner.
The dining room area, like much of the home has been decorated with furniture and accent pieces from Arhaus. The dining room table has been treated with a special 24-step layered paint and glaze finish. Highlights of blue, gray and cream intermingle on the tabletop, which rests on a carved trestle base. Hudkins said, “We had this dining room table made in Italy by Arhaus to go with the storage cabinet. This finish is called Fontaine Blue.”
“They specced out everything down to the smallest spatula,” said the homeowner. “We even went to Costco and measured boxes of plastic wrap and everything that would be stored here.” The drawers do fit all of her household items perfectly; but just to be safe, they all feature adjustable panels so the size and shape of each compartment can be modified. The kitchen design also includes both refrigerated and warming drawers.
Each cabinet, drawer and cubby not only conceal items ingeniously, but they’re also strategically placed. For example, one of the cabinets opens to a complete coffee station, and another near the stove has pull-out racks that hold pots and pans suspended on hooks. The two cabinets flanking the stove are specially made pieces that include custom grillwork imported from England. “Chris can make anything that we can dream up, so I wanted it to look like old English cabinetry,” said Hudkins. As an interior designer, she enjoys the process of choosing custom finishes and products with her clients to produce an end result they both love. “We got to choose everything from the spacing of the grate to the finish of the mesh, and it was so much fun.”
While doing custom work can be rewarding, one of the challenges is that each project is being done for the first time. Since no previous project is exactly like the last, there is no standard to fall back on. For instance, initially, the grated cabinets weren’t going to have a backing plate behind the mesh screen. But upon receiving the finished product, the material was a bit more transparent than they had anticipated. So Cucina’s craftsmen created a custom fitted panel to conceal the cabinet’s contents.
Other special features include a custom-made range hood and a separate water chiller and purifier in the same style and finish as the main faucet. This device makes it quick and easy to fill coffee pots or travel bottles with cold, purified water.
One of the most time and space-saving configurations is the laundry room and pantry area, which is located off the garage, but accessible by the kitchen through a door disguised as a cabinet, making it possible to unload both laundry products and groceries in one fell swoop. “We couldn’t leave her stuck in a dead hallway off the garage, so we made the floor plan circular. We included double action doors here so she could just back in and out while holding laundry baskets,” said Hudkins.
The laundry room cabinets are painted a cool, spa-like blue. The floor is designed to look like brick pavers but is actually sealed porcelain. “We tried to make this room cheerful, because it’s a horrible place to be, at least for me,” added Russell with a laugh. The homeowner was thrilled with the layout. “In this home, we needed things you won’t find when you’re just browsing the internet for floor plans,” the homeowner said. “This (laundry room/pantry) was something that Barrett somehow knew I’d need, because mom life involves a never-ending circle of laundry (laughs).”
The “mom office” is chock full of organizational tools and a great example of how work spaces can be just as beautiful and inspiring as the rest of the home.”
Since the other homeowner works from home on a daily basis, it was important for his office to be beautiful and masculine, yet still have all of the functionality and special features found in the rest of the home. Russell designed a striking space with custom-made mahogany shelving and a custom campaign style desk. The mahogany desk features hand turned legs, an inlaid glass top, and plenty of storage, including two slide-out writing surfaces.
Because the office is located right off of the foyer, everything can be concealed with ease. Hudkins added, “It was a challenge to conceal the monitors but have them accessible to the client. The last thing you want to see is the back of a monitor. But with Chris’ ingenuity and ways to conceal moving parts, we created a beautiful and functional office.” The storage unit has a door that opens with the touch of a button to reveal two large monitors and other office equipment. “I drew the plans for this desk by hand, and my guys made it,” said Russell. “One day, this will be an antique.”
Russell credits his team of craftsmen, particularly Mervin Mast. “I call him McGyver because he can truly make anything work. They are all truly gifted craftsmen, and they don’t say ‘no’, they say, ‘lets figure out how we can do this’, and that makes everything go so wonderfully. There are always things we can’t anticipate, but we figure out how to make it beautiful.”
Hudkins went on to explain that they were going for an 18th century English antique look for the office, but actual English antique desks are not only hard to find, but didn’t function like the homeowner needed, so a one-of-a-kind piece was created. The inset brass hardware was imported from England. Another beautiful detail are the 135-year old doors from France. Hudkins found them in a salvage yard in St Louis, and had them finished so they could be used as pocket doors to give the space more character. Finally, a Brecher’s chandelier with equestrian-inspired leather straps completes the office’s refined, masculine look.
After Hudkins finished the bulk of the home’s design work, she brought in a trusted colleague to provide Christmas decorations and finishing touches. Dwayne Anderson of House agreed to help with the project, and the partnership turned out to be a natural and rewarding one.
As Anderson put it, “Barrett called me and said, ‘I’m not a candlestick kind of girl, can you just put in some tchotchkes and finish it?’ and that made me laugh.”
The homeowner said, “Dwayne was so intuitive with what was already here. All he needed was to be physically in this house to visualize what needed to be completed to match everything. You would not believe what he accomplished after one afternoon of shopping — with all the colors we needed. It was meant to be.”
The holiday decorations, a multi-layered array of green and white with pops of blue and purple – mesh perfectly with the home’s neutral aesthetic. “When I do this work, I’m too much of a control freak, but Barrett is this beautiful, trusting soul, and she was comfortable with letting me step in and do my thing,” said Anderson.
“It’s unusual for a designer to call someone else to accessorize, but meeting this incredible couple, and working with someone who was kind and confident enough to say, ‘you do this part’ was great. We just had fun working together.”
Out back, the home features a covered seating area, complete with a wood burning fireplace and mounted television. Anderson’s talents played a part in accessorizing the space with throw pillows and blankets. Past the covered area is another conversation spot, centered around a firepit.
The master bedroom features an ornately tufted bed frame from Arhaus, plenty of outdoor views accented with custom silk draperies by Danna Harrington of DH Designs. In the master bath, there is more smart storage, including a styling drawer, which contains electrical outlets and stainless steel cubbies for hot styling tools. “They can always be hot and plugged in,” said Russell. Originally the floor plan included a free standing tub and a relatively small shower. But since the homeowners prefer to shower, that space was enlarged and finished in a beautiful mosaic that catches the light and shimmers. Hudkins chose a bow front look for the vanities “Otherwise it would have had too many straight lines.” The hand turned legs (created by Cucina) make the vanities look more like the fine pieces of furniture they are, rather than standard bathroom cabinetry.
The gentleman’s suit closet is another showstopper – with a colorful tie collection on display in individual cubbies, and lighted cabinets for suits and cedar lined cubbies for sweaters. “We wanted it to look like a place where you’d get a custom suit tailored,” said Russell. The doors containing jackets and pants have LED lights with motion sensors, and shoe shelves pull out from the wall. “Normally you see shoe cubbies, but this allows him to store a ton of shoes in a fifteen-inch gap,” said Russell.
“My hope with each project is to create a space that is so centered on the client that it becomes an extension of their personalities and individual needs,” said Hudkins. “This is their home and it reflects their lifestyle. Organization and customization was a priority.”
The daughter’s bedroom and ensuite bath are any girl’s dream come true. A relaxing sitting area, performance stage and a pair of matching chandeliers add to the glamour of this large room. Deep shades of purple and rich fabrics evoke a sense of maturity.
The spacious bath and walk-in closet feature additional chandeliers, custom cabinetry and window treatments, as well as a beautiful carpet and round tufted ottoman.
On the lower level, there are additional entertaining and lounging areas, plus a home gym, steam shower, infrared sauna and a golf simulator. The bathroom has a spa-like feel with dim lighting, deep blue tiled walls, a live edge teak vanity and a shower with semiprecious sliced stone pebbles.
The homeowner explained that everyone in the family got to choose a special area that was created just for them. Her son chose the golf simulator, complete with a putting green.
When building a fully customized home there are ideas that have never been done before, which inevitably complicate matters. And normally, with three separate design companies involved, there is potential for things to get sticky. But according to the homeowner, that creative collaboration is what made the project work so well. “Fortunately, we had a team that found solutions to whatever challenge we were facing, and turned them into design elements that we love,” she said. “Barrett invested time in getting to know us on a personal level so she truly understood our personalities and our vision for the home. This home is proof that teamwork and collaboration provide amazing results! The first day we woke up here, everyone agreed that it was like walking through a magazine.”
Barrett Hudkins of Feather Your Nest Interiors
Kitchen & Bath Cabinets / Closets:
Cucina by Chris Russell
Home Accessories /Christmas Decor:
Dwayne Anderson of House
Floors / Rugs / Carpets:
Geoff Magsam, Michelle Dunlap and Jennifer Morgan
Quality Stone Countertops
Indoor Putting Turf:
Fabric & Rug Protection:
Rob King of Millennium Landscaping
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives
Franco’s Lawncare & Irrigation