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June 2012
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Passion for the Wright Style

Story by Elizabeth Neelley Photography by Amanda Cross and Jeremy Bachuss

It's fair to say that for Paducah residents Dr. and Mrs. Riley and Jill Love, they live their lives to the fullest. They have a passion for many things -- among them family, art, horses, fishing, and the early 20th century arts and crafts movement. Nowhere are these passions more evident than in their home.

Nestled on a 5-acre wooded lot in the West End of Paducah sits their Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home. Designed by local architect Rick Coltharp and built in 1999, the Loves' well-planned home fits in perfectly with the nature surrounding it. In fact, this was intentional.

"We knew we were going to build in the woods," says Jill.

Consistent with the style of Wright, the Love home was well thought out. This intentional design is seen in the main living room with large windows that run across the back of the house, allowing for fantastic views of the woods around the home and lots of natural light.

After entering the home through a covered portico, almost immediately one notices a two-story dry-stacked sandstone fireplace in the middle of the living room. The fireplace is see-through and separates the room in to two sitting areas: one is more formal, with a grand piano among its furnishings, and the other side more casual, with a custom built, mission style TV cabinet. The base of the tall fireplace is made from white Livingston County limestone - limestone being a commonly used material in Wright- inspired homes.

Both sides of the fireplace feature authentic Stickley furniture, which came to pre-eminence in the early 1900s, during the American Craftsman era. The Loves have two different sets of Stickley furniture, which they have purchased and added to throughout the years. The furniture, which fits in very well with the Wright style, is artful in appearance, yet practical in its use.

The Loves' two sets of Stickley furniture, while similar in their wood and upholstered seat and back cushions, differ somewhat. One set (each of which includes a sofa and armchairs) has a solid continuous wood back and sides, while the other is finished on the sides and the back with hardwood slats. Included with the Loves' Stickley seating is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh cherry wood rocking chair with floral design maple inlay.

Each space of the Loves' home was designed so every corner and nook would be lived in.

"We use every area of the house," says Jill.

Included in those areas is a wrap-around loft overlooking the open living area. The Loves refer to this loft as their gallery space, where they display an assortment of art and framed pieces.

"We have some nice pieces (of art), but much of it are things our kids have done," says Jill, and which she points out, "are just as meaningful to us."

Other notable wall hangings are a large, rusted tin angel hanging on one side of the stacked stone fireplace. Found at a store in Whites Creek, Tenn., by her friend and current designer Laura Kauffman, the angel is flanked on either side by two framed prints of up-close faces of Memphis blues signers.

On the opposite side of the fireplace hangs a painting composed of a series of different size circles, textured with layers of paint and glazes. The painting was created by artist Michael Hoffman and was purchased from the Mark Palmer Gallery in Lowertown Paducah.

At the front of the home, situated off one end of the living room, is the formal dining area. In the spirit of the home's arts and crafts style sits a round maple wood dining table and six wood, upholstered seat arm chairs. The table, found in a Chicago boardroom by local interior designer Ron Lucas, matches much of the home's other light-colored cabinetry and molding.

The showcase of the dining room, however, is the cone-shaped pendant style Louis Comfort Tiffany chandelier hanging above the table. Complementing the chandelier is the bronze colored domed-out ceiling from which it hangs.

The story of how the lamp was found is fun and unique. Jill, who owns the Four Rivers Sport Horse Center in Paducah, had traveled to Lexington for a horse show.

She had taken her horse trailer to an industrial area of town for maintenance, and while waiting, noticed a second hand furniture store nearby. She wandered inside, and lo and behold in front of her was the hanging light, which contains many small pieces of leaded glass in hues of brown, beige, rust and green.

Says Jill of that day, "I walked over, made an offer and he accepted it. We loaded it in my trailer and off I went. It wasn't until the contractor unloaded it (at home) that our decorator at the time, Ron Lucas, discovered it was an authentic Tiffany!"

On the wall next to the dining table is another treasure, a vintage lithograph poster of Grace Kelly signed by the artist. Beautiful art hangs throughout the house, including a painting of their 19-year-old stallion, Wilco, done by locally known artist Tim Jaeger.

Very organic in its style, the house features earth toned interior wall colors in creams and beiges with secondary colors of sage greens and rusty reds, as seen in various covered furniture cushions, rugs and even in the rust colored glaze seen in the concrete kitchen countertops.

Jill especially loves the concrete countertops and their color, because although the color has worn naturally through the years, she says the concrete material holds up well to just about anything you prepare or do in the kitchen.

Also seen in the house, and typical of a Frank Lloyd Wright home, are repeated patterns and shapes, in this case, the square. From small square shaped windows positioned high above the large windows on the back wall of the main floor living room, to square cut outs on the railings going up the stairs to the gallery loft, the square is seen in many places throughout the home. Some are even as simple as the squares in the decorative trim at the top of each wood column holding up the loft, and the square shaped wooden in-lays in their cabinetry.

In addition to the limestone and sandstone used inside the home, the Loves used other natural materials when designing the house, including white coral stone, which was incorporated into the half bath vanity on the main level and in the fireplace hearth and built-in shelving of the basement fireplace.

In some of the coral stone pieces one can even see the outline of a fossil.

A special area of the residence is the office of Jill's husband, Dr. Riley Love. The room is home to many collections which Riley has contributed to from trips he's taken through the years. When not practicing medicine, Riley is an avid fisherman and has traveled around the world on fishing trips, from Costa Rica and Panama to Australia.

One quickly notices the souvenirs and mementoes upon entering the room, such as handmade pottery, miniature carved boats, Aborigine wall art, and replicated and mounted fish, including a marlin and a sailfish. (As a side note that I found interesting: the fish are billfish that are caught, tagged and released, then replicated and mounted.) Riley has also enjoyed collecting various books. Some are first editions like his favorite, Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" -- quite a fitting book for a man who loves to fish.

Having raised their two children, son Hunter (27) and daughter Carson (24) in the home, the Loves plan to enjoy their house for many years to come. Even though they've lived in other parts of the country (upstate Illinois, Missouri and California), Paducah has truly become home. Jill loves the fact that, above all things, her home is a place for family to gather and to grow.

"We arrived in Paducah still a bit homesick for San Francisco. Being able to construct our home in such a natural setting allowed us to develop the roots to grow," says Jill. "Yesterday there was a mature bald eagle surveying all around him from the branches of a white pine, and this morning I had to stop the car for our neighborhood flock of turkeys. Every day there are deer and foxes in the yard. Our lives are rich here in Paducah!" n

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