A Gathering Place

By Chloe Games
Photos by
Kathryn Harrington

grey-blue coat of paint enshrouds this East Louisville home in the unmistakable aura of the ocean. Stepping into the foyer, guests are greeted by a display of shells collected from decades of family vacations. You can almost smell the sea breeze. “I always called it our Hamptons home,” the homeowner says, “where every day you can be on vacation.”

The color pallet of the home evokes the calming tones of an ocean escape. “When you ask about the colors of my house, they’re the colors of the ocean, they’re the colors of the grasses, the sand, the sky,” the homeowner says. “That’s how I went with the colors – those that brought calm and the happiest moments for us.”

More than an ode to a seaside retreat, the home unfolds room by room into a reflection of the family who built it. “Really, the house tells a story of our family,” she says. Inspired by the happy moments of post-slopes conversation in a ski lodge, four cushioned armchairs are grouped centrally in the living room, allowing for easy conversation. On the far wall, an intricately-engraved wooden plank once salvaged from a bar provides texture and illuminates one of the homeowner’s design philosophies: endless experimentation. “There are multiple functions for things – just maybe not what they’re intended to be.”

A fireplace brightens the ultra-cozy reading nook at one end of the room, where literary luminaries share shelf space with old yearbooks.“Those are the treasures of my life. It’s not just great books, it’s also our memories. That’s what houses should be: living memories,” the homeowner says.

In this house, memories are tactile: a runner from Turkey cushions hallway footfalls in gentle blues, and in the dining room, a sturdy wooden farm table provides a gathering-place fit for a crowd. When she came across the statement piece in Paris, the homeowner was immediately sure that the table would be coming home with her to Louisville.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors span the length of the living and dining rooms, bringing the outdoors inside no matter the season. “I love to bring the outside in, the inside out. I think nothing of bringing my furniture outside and putting it on the deck,” the homeowner says. On the patio, pinstripe fabrics provide a classic yet livable covering for the daybed and outdoor furniture. Tall grasses surround the pool and resurface throughout the landscape. Trees flourish on the outskirts of the property, and it’s no surprise that all manner of wildlife visit the home. With fond memories of summer camp, the family sought to bring the same emphasis on nature within city limits. “We always said, ‘We want that same camp feeling,’ and that’s what we have.”

Throughout the downstairs hallways, heirlooms and found items piece together a storied family history. Gently weathered shutters from North Carolina frame a hallway window, and an antique music box sparks corridor conversation. An enormous painted screen provides interest in the same first-floor hallway, and you would never guess that it once served as a headboard in the master bedroom. In this home, objects are treated as dynamic elements of design, and no careful placement is treated as a final resting place.

“My husband can come home and a chair that was in one position one hour will be in a different spot another hour,” the homeowner laughs. She finds endless possibilities in treasures found near and far. An armoire discovered in Florida became a vanity with the addition of a mirror and a sink. Placed at an entryway, fern planters provide a catch-all space for magazines and miscellanea.

In bedrooms, repurposed objects provide a personal touch. Lamps crafted from antique pots illuminate the master suite, and a handed-down typewriter recalls the family member whose workplace it once graced. In the attached bathroom, elegant monograms designate personal space. When topped with a handcrafted bit of pottery, an antique vase becomes a table by the bathtub. For this homeowner, “taking the unusual and making it usual” is a go-to strategy.

The upstairs is illuminated by a massive chandelier that hangs above the stairwell. “This is what the house was built around,” the homeowner explains. A bridge between the past and present, the chandelier was recovered from a previous home, where it “took up the whole foyer.” Now, it adds effortless glamour to a nonetheless family-friendly home.

In the upstairs bedrooms, texture reigns supreme. Grasscloth curtains compliment the home’s gentle color scheme, and in the office, vintage French pillow cases accent a cushioned daybed. With idyllic views of the wooded property, each room is unmistakably livable and inviting.  “Comfortable-chic – that would define my house. It’s so comfortable, and nothing stays the same,” the homeowner says.

With family memorabilia and collected items furnishing every room, this home provides a blueprint for building a family-centric space. The homeowner says it beautifully: “I think you should live with what you love.” V