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Coming Home

Story by Elizabeth Neelley Photography by Mark McCoy

There's a certain fact about life to which most can agree: change is inevitable. For one young couple, change is the catalyst that brought them together and ultimately led them to the purchase (and remodel) of their first home.

David and Whitney (Englert) Riley first met a little over three years ago when Whitney was invited by David to a Rotaract Young Professionals meeting in Paducah. A mutual friend and associate had suggested the two should meet, and as they say, the rest is history.

Whitney, whose parents moved to Paducah when she was in college, was raised in Maysville. David grew up on a farm in Graves County, where his family still lives today.

It wasn't until Whitney's mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 that she decided to move to Paducah, the town she would now call home. Whitney had just graduated from the University of Louisville law school, so not only was she moving to Paducah to be closer to her family and her mother, but also with the hopes of starting her legal career.

Meanwhile, David had also returned to West Kentucky after law school at the University of Kentucky and was working in the federal court system in Paducah.

Eventually he would take a job with Bradley, Freed & Grumley specializing in civil defense litigation, and Whitney with Whitlow Roberts Houston & Straub in estate planning and probate law.

Although Whitney's relocation to Paducah happened quickly, she describes this change as instrumental in her life. "Little did I know Paducah would have so much to offer to me both personally and professionally," says Whitney.

Just a few months after David and Whitney met (in March of 2013), life had more change; her mother lost her battle with cancer.

Later that year, David and Whitney got engaged and suddenly the prospect of married life had them looking for a house. It just happened that the gentleman who lived next door to Whitney's dad on Krebs Station Road decided to sell his home, and knowing that David and Whitney might be looking for a place to call their own, reached out to her dad ... and lo and behold, the house next door to Whitney's father became theirs.

"With the home being next door to Whitney's father, it was a house with which we were familiar. We loved the location. It was the perfect size for the two of us, and we were excited to begin the renovations that would make it ours," says David.

Renovations started right away. The entire interior - from floors and walls, to updated bathrooms and a completely new kitchen - has been redone.

David handled more of the construction and structural aspects of the remodel - like the demo of the old kitchen and the opening up of the area between the kitchen and the living room, while Whitney had the ideas for certain features, like the built-ins on either side of the living room fireplace.

Being next door to Whitney's father proved to be mutually beneficial for all involved. David and Whitney were able to live with her dad during the renovation of their new home as well as have his help with much of the construction projects, but her father also had the comfort of having his daughter and new son-in-law at his house and immediately next door in the months following the passing of Whitney's mom.

The transformation of their home has truly been a family affair.

"Between me, my dad and my father-in-law," says David, "we did almost every job in the house, including laying hardwood floors, installing tile and crown molding, and hanging new doors. I also built the built-ins around our fireplace and the casing between our living room and dining room, giving the house a custom feel."

When it comes to doing a lot of the remodeling work themselves, he says there's nothing you can't learn to do if you can watch a YouTube video.

The couple's modestly sized home is big on style and comfort. David and Whitney's traditional decor taste creates a classic and timeless feel.

The light bluish gray walls (Pearl River by Benjamin Moore) and crisp white trim and crown molding work together throughout the house, making for a kitchen, living and dining area that is clean, airy and full of light.

Whitney mentions several inspirations that find their way in to her decorating style, one being her mom. "My mom subscribed to Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens for as long as I can remember," says Whitney. "She never used a decorator. It was just what she liked."

She remembers her mother making most of their window treatments with fabric she would find on her own. This love of fabric and a strong sense of what she liked has carried over into Whitney's preferences. The fabric chosen by Whitney for the window valance above the kitchen sink, as well as on a bench cushion in her laundry room, was originally a shower curtain. It's bright design and swirl of colors contrasts perfectly with the white kitchen cabinets (from Design, Etc. in Benton), earth-toned granite countertops with brown, black and gray speckling (called "Fiesta Gold"), and the updated stainless steel appliances.

Working from a budget was important to the couple. "We didn't know if granite countertops would fit in our budget, but you just really have to shop around," says Whitney.

After doing their homework, David and Whitney found a great deal on granite they purchased from National Stone World in Clarksville, Tennessee. Another feature in the kitchen the couple researched well is their gas stove. When updating the fireplace in the living room, they decided it would be the best time to run the gas line to the kitchen. It's a decision they don't regret.

"We cook all the time and we thought it would be really nice to have a gas stove," says David, "and we use it a lot!"

David and Whitney's decor and design style are also displayed in some colorful artwork and mementos given to them by David's sister and brother-in-law -- which includes a bright blue, green and yellow horse lithograph print designed by David's sister and several custom glazed pottery pieces thrown and fired by David's brother-in-law.

They also enjoy collecting souvenirs from the places where they've traveled, like a trip they took last summer to Italy's Amalfi Coast and their honeymoon trip in 2014 to Thailand.

It doesn't take a visitor to the home long to see that the Rileys' love of family, travel, classic decor, and their ability to embrace life's changes has found its way into their home and design choices. They are choices that make each room feel relaxing, welcome and cozy, but at the same time make a person feel that the rooms could just as easily be found on the pages of the home and garden magazines that Whitney grew up reading. As David says, "Our house on Krebs Station is warm and inviting and contains details unique to our relationship, which are evidence that life is better spent together."

With their interior remodel now complete, Whitney and David look forward to what the future holds at their home. "Moving forward we hope to take a break from actively remodeling and just enjoy our home for now. We have thoughts about some ideas for the exterior, so those may be the next item on our to-do list. We have a house that we're working to make a home and hope it is a place where all feel welcome and can make lasting memories." n

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