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A home to raise their children

Story by Pat Brockenborough | Photography by Vicki Hunkler

I have been writing for Posh since it premiered 13 years ago. If you asked me to recall my favorite feature, I probably would say the most recent one. The interviews have introduced me to people who have delighted me with stories about their living spaces and have welcomed me into their homes.

Each interview has been a favorite until the next one came along. My most recent interview was with Jane Kolb, who lives in a modest West End neighborhood. She and her late husband Dr. Frank Kolb bought their house 37 years ago when he had completed residency in orthopedics and established a practice here.

Traditionally, couples begin married life in a modest house and move to a larger, more expensively furnished home as they prosper. Jane Kolb has remained in her "starter" house through the years, raising her children Jay and Sarah here, and last year, hosting a garden wedding for her daughter.

Even though she has been widowed several years, and her children have moved away, Jane has remained in her house because it is not only comfortable but comforting. It has reflected her decorating tastes, her love of inherited family treasures, and her memories of a happy life with her husband and children. There have been changes through the years to make the house more livable.

"We tried to make it more like what we wanted," Jane said.

What the Kolbs wanted was simplicity - a home to raise their children, furnished with cherished family antiques, and a spacious yard for family entertainment and to showcase their gardening skills. The original layout was simple: formal living room, office, dining room, kitchen, den and master suite downstairs, with additional bedrooms upstairs.

The house became more livable and family-friendly through the years, with design assistance from interior decorator D.J. Lyon.

A garden room was created by enclosing an outside patio. For access to the house, doors were installed in a dining room wall. This glass-enclosed room provides a pleasant view of the well-tended garden, without pesky mosquitoes. It also provides more natural light for the interior rooms. Like other rooms in the house, it is lovingly furnished with antiques: a green-painted sideboard and green wicker chairs and settee.

Other family-friendly changes include a redo of the den, a comfortable room for reading by a wood-burning fireplace in winter or a sunny window the rest of the year.

The original dark paneled walls have been painted and ceiling lights were installed to provide a lighter atmosphere.

An informal "English country manor" look was created by a red sofa and chairs upholstered in red, green and dark blue plaid.

Walls are hung with horse prints, passed down from grandparents who raised thoroughbred gaited horses and collected antique horse-themed prints.

Among other antiques inherited from grandparents is the rifle hanging over the fireplace. Jane told us it belonged to a grandmother who had kept it in her kitchen. One can only guess when, or for what purpose it was used.

The kitchen is conveniently located between the garden room and den. It is here that one can see that Jane's favorite colors are blue and yellow. The walls are a cheerful yellow. The color blue was inspired by a family collection of blue Spode dinnerware. Among the antiques here are a Shaker candle stand, and before a window looking over the garden, country table and chairs. Jane had a window cut between the kitchen and garden room to provide more light.

Tucked under a kitchen counter are stools hand-painted by local artist Bunny Vaughn.

They are probably the only "non antiques" in the kitchen, but are of special interest because many of us have kitchen stools personalized by Vaughn.

As you move into the formal dining room, you can believe Jane when she says, "Everything here is antique."

She could add, and truthfully so, that every antique is inherited from family. The dining table is flanked by side chairs belonging to Frank's grandparents. A corner cabinet came from Jane's mother. A small table and chest were also family pieces.

Displayed here are an antique humidor, a silver tea service and a number of julep cups, some from Frank's grandparents and some purchased by Frank.

Virtually unchanged in 37 years are the formal living room, Frank's office and the children's bedrooms. In the living room, open shelves, painted melon in contrast with pale walls, flank the fireplace.

Displayed inside are fine china by Royal Doulton and Lenox. The only non-vintage treasure in this room is a Waterford crystal bowl purchased by the Kolbs during a trip to Ireland.

Frank's office is just as he left it, with its roll-top desk, hunting and fishing trophies, collection of caps, and photos of trips in the wild.

Among the photos is a large sea bass caught at Kiawah by the Kolb youngsters. Both lay claim to the catch; Sarah hooked it and Jay brought it in. Jane led us up the stairs to the master bedroom suite and the bedrooms once occupied by Sarah and Jay. She has kept their rooms as they left them, with trophies and memorabilia still in place. The bedroom she occupies is large and sunny, with yellow walls and blue accents.

"I love yellow," Jane said enthusiastically. No doubt about that; the room is generously splashed with her favorite color.

"When I wake up in the morning, it is so nice and cheerful," she said.

The room is en suite, with its newly remodeled bath. Another update to the bedroom is a fireplace. The quilts in the bedrooms were all made by Jane's mother, who also made the pillows throughout the house.

"She was very talented," Jane commented. Seeing the beautiful and intricate handwork, one wonders how the lady managed to create such time-consuming work â “ until one considers that in a pre-techno age, there was leisure time to pursue one's special talents. The Kolb house is set in a beautiful and spacious garden, with its patios and mini-gardens. Frank's love of gardening can be seen in these special spots, which could be called meditation nooks, at the side of the house.

At the bottom of the yard is a charming garden cottage, which was built by Frank for tool storage.

In her lovingly furnished house set in a beautifully tended yard, it is easy to understand why Jane Kolb will always be in her first and only Paducah home. n

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