Lasting Legacy in La Grange

Home of the Week- Hobbs Residence.There are many who would call inheriting a historic and approximately 6,200 square-foot home in La Grange a dream come true. The scenery is straight out of a pastoral painting, and the peace and quiet that come along with it are certainly soothing, even when only visiting. Unfortunately for Kendall Hobbs, this particular home – a formative location in her childhood – did not become hers under ideal circumstances.

“The house belonged to my grandfather and grandmother, and they both passed in the last two years,” says Hobbs, “It was built in the ’50s, but they had lived here since 1968.” According to Hobbs, who is an interior designer, the home has had extensive renovations and additions in the past, but it all started with a beautiful-but-basic, ranch-style residence. As I walk in and almost immediately see a well-maintained grandfather clock, I can tell that there is a quaint charm to the place. “I came in here, and I wanted to pay homage to my grandmother because she had impeccable taste. I started in May of last year and finished up just about two weeks ago. I ended up spending about $200,000 in renovations.”

The first room presented to guests of the home is a formal living room. The lovely, original wallpaper and accessories are smartly kept in place so that the room does not lose an ounce of its traditional colonial style and allure. There is even an old but pristine upright piano that brings to mind happy daydreams of entertaining guests throughout the decades.

“My grandfather was a doctor, and my grandmother was the head nurse at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange, but she was also a socialite and had four children,” says Hobbs before adding with a winsome smile, “She had a lot of parties.” To better service her passion for entertaining guests, Hobbs’ grandmother had a major addition installed in 1971: a spacious family room.

Originally, all the trim work in this part of the house was gray, and the overall effect was a dark and dingy atmosphere. To give the family room some much needed warmth and brightness, Hobbs decided to bring in some yellows to the palette. “I think a gray and yellow color palette is very pleasing,” asserts Hobbs. “It brightened up the space quite a bit and goes well with the original, beautiful creek stone in the room. I also decided to play with the reclaimed barn wood in the beams since it’s back in style.” The family room also features a handsome stone fireplace with a fully operational Buck Stove that can heat the entire home. “It’s shabby, but it’s gotten a lot of use over the years,” relates Hobbs proudly. “It’s wood-burning and has a blower. I did have to put a new HVAC unit in. They don’t get gas out here, so it was on oil and I had two separate systems for the two parts of the house. I converted them to electric heat pumps this summer.”

The newest addition to the house is a large kitchen annex that was installed as recently as 2000. In fact, Hobbs claims that it is this addition that convinced her to embark on the massive undertaking that was remodeling the house in the first place: “This area used to be a screened-in porch, but they added this kitchen addition complete with skylights. It’s slightly dated, but the cabinetry is so expensive and so lovely that I didn’t want to change it. This is definitely more of a functional kitchen. My grandmother was a huge cook. I realized how much of a waste it would be, and this is the only reason I chose to renovate the home.”

As previously mentioned, Hobbs is an interior designer by profession, so she took it upon herself to add one redesign that was all her own: the master suite. “The mill work in this master suite is all new,” informs Hobbs. “I matched it to the mill work in the kitchen and dining room, and I had to work with a contractor to do that. I kept the fireplace, which is fully functional, and put in a master closet.”

The attention to detail doesn’t stop there. Hobbs had a hand in remodeling or redesigning each of the five bedrooms and four and a half baths with help from her aunt, Kristin Guy, keeping original materials in place when possible and completely updating when absolutely necessary.

This is all without nary a peep about the equally impressive exterior of the home. “There is a historic mill in the area, so all the homes are required to maintain at least 3.5 acres of land,” says Hobbs. “We demoed everything in the summer, did the landscaping and performed entire tree removals. In late fall, we started planting again.” These efforts have afforded the home relaxing  front and back porches, a fire pit, a picturesque gazebo and even a pool.

The work was surely back-breaking, but its fruits are breathtaking. Clearly this project has been a labor of love near and dear to Hobbs’ heart, and she can rest assured that her grandmother’s legacy and impeccable taste shall remain intact for people to enjoy for generations to come. VT 

Photos by JAMES EATON