By Mariah Kline
Photos by Jolea Brown
Sitting on four beautiful acres in the Woodstone neighborhood, you can find Karen and Paul Casi’s dream-come-true home. The 7,300 square foot property was built by renowned architect Tim Winters, of whom Karen has long been a fan. With Winters’ breathtaking architecture and Karen’s keen eye for design, this house has the elements of a modern mansion with the warmth and comfort of a woodland paradise.
Long before she ever stepped foot inside, Karen had a connection to the house. She watched it being built around 1994 when she and Paul were purchasing their starter home. Karen would look for the house each time she passed by it on her way to her in-laws home in Prospect, marveling at its fantastic structure. A few years later, the couple purchased their second home in the nearby Estates at Hunting Creek, which allowed Karen to continue watching it over the years.
In 2007, the Casis began shopping for their “forever” home, and made an offer on a property in Oldham County. Unfortunately, their bid was not accepted and they lost what they believed would have been their dream home.
“I remember being so sad and disappointed that we had lost that house,” she explains. “And I remembered this home and wished it would come on the market, and within six weeks it did.”
Though she had never been inside the house, Karen quickly discovered it was more perfect than she could have ever imagined. There were many similarities between the Casis and the previous owners, as both families have three sons and put priority on a large kitchen for cooking and entertaining guests. Once they discovered the backyard with a pool and the surrounding woods that provided the perfect view, Karen and Paul fell further in love with the house and knew it was meant to be.
“When you watch something for 14 years like I did and then to think we almost bought something else, you pinch yourself and thank your lucky stars that the other one didn’t work out,” she says. “This is so much better than the one we would have purchased.”
The home has a total of five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The kitchen includes a large island, several cabinets made of cedar cypress wood and a work of art on the wall that reveals a hidden television behind it. Karen and Paul have essentially become empty nesters since their sons are grown, but Karen says the house suits them whether the entire family is home or if just the couple and their two dogs are around.
The magnificent backyard has a deck that can seat a large number of guests, an expansive pool and pool house and pergolas for added flair. Surrounding the property are countless tall trees, providing a gorgeous view and privacy that allows them to feel as if they are deep in the forest without feeling isolated.
The original owners were natives of Louisiana so the home was built in a French country style with a Louisiana twist. Winters incorporated two cascading staircases, one leading from the driveway to the front door and the other from the first floor leading to the second. Though this is not a common feature in Southern architecture, the staircases are one of the most interesting components of the house.
Karen has dabbled in design and been an avid reader of Architectural Digest and similar publications for her entire adult life. Thus, she chose to decorate the house on her own and call on other designers and experts when she needed a second opinion. When the family moved in ten years ago, earth tones and neutral colors were very much the norm and dark colors weren’t often used in decor or on the walls. However, at the suggestion of her friend Mark Eliason, Karen decided to implement dark blue throughout the first floor to match the exquisite slate flooring.
Karen’s style incorporates order and consistency, and, as a result, the home boasts a modern style and feeling. However, it does not have the cold or inhospitable vibe of many large contemporary homes. Despite its size and sophistication, the home feels incredibly warm and inviting.
“My design style is really a combination of warmth, harmony and glamour,” she explains. “I also like calm, so when you have harmony you also have symmetry and repetition. Keeping things visually calm and quiet is important to me since my life can be very busy.”
As a member of the Speed Museum’s Board of Governors, Karen also holds a passion for original art and has become a collector. Moving into a property that’s surrounded by greenery has inspired both her soul and her taste in art.
“My woods have become very meaningful to me,” she says. “So I’m starting to buy more art that is woodland based. I’ve found being by the pool when the sunlight is dappling through the trees and there’s a light breeze, it just feels so vibrant. I’m an ocean girl but I’ve discovered that having this scenery and being out here is just as relaxing as being at the beach.”
While Karen and Paul have found their dream home, their work on the property is not over yet. Just before this year’s Kentucky Derby, they remodeled and updated their sons’ former bedrooms and bathrooms to prepare for guests who visited for the big race. Despite a tight deadline, Karen and the crew she hired pulled off the renovation in just two months.
In the near future, the Casis plan to update the library, change the exterior colors of the home and replace its cement driveway and walkways with stone. Designer Christopher Welsh has assisted with the exterior plans, while Winters has assisted with the library upgrade and consulted on the plans for the driveway.
Karen and Paul’s fateful acquisition of their home not only makes for a charming story, but also adds to the enchantment of their experience at the house. Between its woodland setting and the interior customization provided by Karen, this prestigious property is an absolutely perfect fit.