Comfortable Elegance

Kentucky Homes & Gardens

Kentucky Homes & Gardens Magazine cover, March/April 2008

Comfortable elegance

Robin Rogers inherited the family’s home in Cherokee Triangle in 2004. Her 18-month-long restoration project sought to turn the home into a comfortable marriage of elegance and ease. The result is a family home that looks beautiful and lives well.

By Robyn Davis Sekula

Kentucky Homes and Gardens | March/April 2008

In the early 1960s, Robin Rogers’ parents made a savvy investment: they bought a now-historic home in Louisville’s Cherokee Triangle. Rogers grew up in the house, and loved living in it. “We thought it was groovy,” Rogers recalls. “We could run around here and skip and play hide and go seek. We could lay out on the front porch.”

Her parents loved the home, too, fixing it up mostly by their own hand and, because almost everything they needed was on the first level, living in it until they died. Her father, Robert W. Rogers, passed away in 2003, and her mother, Venda Rogers, died in 2004. Rogers inherited the home when her parents died, and wanted to turn it into a home suitable for her, her husband, Wayne C. Daub, and daughters, Anna, 12, and Morgan, 9.

Built in 1905, the house is probably best described as Mediterranean Revival: a curious blend of Victorian, neoclassical, European and Tuscan influences. The home has a stucco exterior and a central courtyard with a glass ceiling in its center, with rooms radiating off of that courtyard. It is a story-and-a-half home, with the upstairs a series of rooms that have slanted ceilings in some rooms and the kind of nooks that children relish. All of these features have made the restoration challenging, interesting and extremely rewarding.

Rogers turned to architectural designer Charlie Wilson, Perdue Construction and Mary Alexander of Alexander Interiors Inc. for assistance in creating the home she wanted. Wilson was especially helpful in creating a master bedroom suite addition and re-crafting the kitchen space, and Alexander helped Rogers pull together the collection of antiques she had inherited, her own furnishings and choose wallpapers and colors that reflected her personal style. Perdue Construction took the plans from paper to reality.

Alexander says the restoration was challenging, but fulfilling. “The challenges were that it is an old house that needed a lot of work, and there were a lot of emotional ties to the past, because she got the house from her parents,” Alexander says. “Sometimes it is hard to let go of the past. We needed to turn it into Robin’s house, with her style and her colors and the energy of her family.”

Today, the house is a blend of its history, Rogers’ interests, her parents’ legacy and her family’s needs for a comfortable place to live.

Significant influences in the house include Venda Rogers’ artistic talent. Venda Rogers was an artist who put her talents to work in various ways, including on the walls of the home’s interior courtyard and the extensively collection of paintings throughout the house. Rogers also introduced the theme of Chinese art to the home. The Chinese art is largely a tribute to her two daughters, both of whom were adopted from China. Rogers and her daughters took a trip to China and bought many of the home’s Chinese paintings during that trip.

Rogers’ biggest goal for the restoration was to keep as much of the home’s original fabric as possible, making sure to keep original fixtures where she could, and added in vintage light fixtures, some of which were in the home’s basement, in rooms. She also used vintage-looking wallpapers that enrich the home’s historic feel and blend its collection of antiques with its architecture.

The house’s most distinctive feature is the courtyard in the center, covered by a glass ceiling, and surrounded by eight columns. The large-scale room has a tile floor, and has soft paintings of neoclassical women above the doorways. Venda Rogers likely touched up those fading paintings, Robin Rogers says. The room has a rich collection of family antiques, many of which received new upholstery to marry them together and update their look. The room is a favorite place for the family. “It’s great when we have a big storm, and you can sit out here and watch the lightning,” Rogers says. “When you wake up after a snow, it’s really different in here because it’s all gray up there.” And when the moon is full, “the whole room just glows.”

In this room, Rogers replaced the glass in the ceiling, and also brought in an artist, Peter Bodnar III, to restore the paintings above the doorways of the neoclassical figures. Bodnar also marbleized the columns and added color to the decoration around the ceiling, bringing out the lions and the swags with contrasting colors.

Another key room to receive a lot of attention was the kitchen. Rogers knocked down two walls in the space to unite the kitchen, a butler’s pantry and a breakfast room. She reused some of the home’s original cabinetry, moving a set of cabinets that appear to date to early in the home’s life to the breakfast area, and using the cabinets as a buffet. The rest of the kitchen received new cabinets, tile and fixtures. Black granite countertops and an exposed brick wall, paired with a hammered copper farmhouse sink, give the room a rich, earthy feeling. Rogers found the kitchen’s matching chandeliers in the basement, and had them rewired and restored so she could use them in the room.

The home’s formal dining room is enhanced by a botanical themed wallpaper, and a vintage-looking needlepoint rug with roses that is nicely accented by two upholstered chairs at the head seats of the dining room table. Two sets of French doors open onto a glass-in porch. Rogers had the porch’s floor retiled and a heated floor installed, which has become the family cat’s favorite spot for relaxing.

Rogers also decided to add on a master bedroom suite, which would include a bathroom. But, in honor of the home’s rich architectural legacy, she hired a carpenter to create doors, windows and woodwork that matched the rest of the house, making the room a seamless addition. A lively yellow wall color invigorates the space.

In the master bathroom, she chose a deep border and tile of vintage style to create a room that could have been there since the home’s inception. Frosted French doors separate the bathroom from the master bedroom.

As part of that addition, Rogers created a new back entryway for the home that gives the house a more generous back hallway.

Alexander believes the restoration and renovation was a success. It’s created a truly unique home that suits Rogers and her family. “I’ve never been in a house with that floor plan with an inner court, and the ceiling being a total skylight,” Alexander says. “There is beautiful light and the architectural details are very unusual, yet the house is very livable. Today, so many houses the kitchen is the center of the house, and for that house, the physical center is that courtyard. It’s colorful and livable. It is very elegant, due to all of the classical elements, but it’s very livable and very fun. It’s not off-putting when you walk in. It says sit down in this chair and be comfortable.”