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Hutson House ... a lofty undertaking

Story and Photography By Vicki Hunkler

PARIS LANDING, Tenn. - One of the most eye-catching homes on Kentucky Lake is the spectacular one near the bridge at Paris Landing owned by Cindy Hutson of Paducah. If you are traveling south by boat from Barkley and Kentucky Lakes or north on the Big Sandy and Tennessee rivers, you won't miss it.

Sitting majestically on eight acres with over 1,000 feet of shoreline, the home site was dug out of a severely sloping piece of property that Cindy and her late husband, Dan, purchased over a decade ago.

According to Paducah builder Kenny Hunt of A&K Construction, the first time he laid eyes on the property was from the air. Murray native Dan Hutson was a pilot and took his friend and former fraternity brother to see the site via helicopter.

"I had been working with Dan on a building in Clarksville, and he had been telling me about this piece of property that he wanted me to see. He landed his helicopter right behind my house and we flew to the lake.

"It was spectacular from the air! The next week, we went back to the site and the decision was made to build a house for his family.

"You don't really realize you are on Kentucky Lake - it seems like Colorado or someplace else," Hunt said. "You can really appreciate the grading when you look at the area from the air or stand where the proposed helicopter pad was."

Hunt said it was logistically amazing. "We cut into the land and shear cut it 20 something feet straight up. The first time I walked on the property, I could barely stand up because it was so steep."

(Late Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter's summer home sits even farther up the hill behind the Hutson house. Paris Landing State Park and Land Between the Lakes are not far away.)

In 2007, the project was started, but Dan lost his life in a plane accident in 2008.

"We were too far along to cancel it when this happened," Cindy explained. The foundation was poured and framing had already begun. It was a very sad time for the Hutson family, but the house was Dan's vision and dream. The project continued.

Laura Kauffman, the interior designer and family friend, recalls those days.

"I was emotionally involved because Cindy and Dan weren't just clients, but family to me. My goal and intention on the design was to make this exactly how Dan would have wanted. I wanted touches of all things that were important to him: the Fleur de Lis symbolism on the front doors, on the corbels in the living room, the fireplace hearth, and even on cabinet hardware. Also, the Viking appliances located throughout the kitchen and the screened-in porch area. This was the best tribute to a wonderful man. It was really hard."

The Hutsons found the plan for the 7,454 square foot house in a magazine, but Dan took the plan and made many modifications.

"The hearth room turned into an exercise room; the dining room was opened up; and the walls were changed," Cindy noted. "He was adamant about having taller ceilings downstairs."

"The basement walls are 16 feet tall. It created another plateau. The land preparation was extensive and took several months. While house construction was going on we were working on about a mile of retaining walls. Existing dirt was used to terrace and build those walls. They provide the plateau where the house and pool are," the builder explained.

A double-decker garage totaling over 1,700 square feet was another feature of the five bedroom, seven bath house. The plan was to build a helicopter pad so Dan could take off over the lake from the home site; consequently, the house was pushed closer to the edge to give a wide view of both ends of the lake and the river. The elevation from the water and the expansive view make this a unique home.

Paducah artist George Banderra designed a metal prototype of a R44 helicopter to sit on the "pad" overlooking the water as a memorial.

"It's an exact replica of Dan's own helicopter. I went to Nashville and got the dimensions from one there. It took four or five months to fabricate it out of stainless steel. It's all recycled materials. The antennas were made with gun barrels that came from a manufacturer in Union City; the motor was made with odds and ends from a scrap yard. The seats were made from conveyer belts from the milk plant in Murray," Banderra said.

"We had to have a big crane to set it. Oddly enough, it weighed within 9 pounds of the original; quite a coincidence. I had made Danny a small helicopter about 45 years ago that may still be on the desk. I knew him when he was really young."

Banderra also created slender metal giraffes, which "reside" down toward the two boat docks. A glass fire pit is an interesting focal point of the back yard, along with a beautiful pool with a gunnite custom finished interior. Cindy said she wanted the pool to match the water in the lake. Twenty-foot stark white umbrellas enhance the area where an infinity hot tub spills into the pool.

Moving inside the home, one finds stone accents throughout in keeping with the rustic setting. To prevent fireplaces and hearths from looking the same, the materials are laid differently. One is dry stacked, while another is mortared. The exterior stone is azure cut, Brentwood stone from Perryville, Missouri.

The floors are hickory, hand-scraped by Tim Clark. Tommy Sutton designed the fireplace, mantel and window trim. Dave's Cabinets provided much of the millwork, and Home Floor and Kitchen, all in Paducah, did the tile and granite, carpet and runners. A colorful cloisonné sink was one of the first things that Cindy and her decorator chose for the home.

"Laura and I have worked together for a long time. We have the exact same taste and love the same colors. You could hand each of us a wallpaper book and we would pick out the same ones!"

Whimsical patterns add interest to the wallpapers chosen for the bathrooms throughout the home. Butternut by Sherwin-Williams is the paint used in many areas. Custom draperies, some as tall as 11 feet, were done by The Window Shop in Paducah. Bar stools by Jonathan Charles and painted accent furniture by "Decorize" from Thomas Furniture brighten various rooms.

The "bunk room," designed for Cindy's five grandchildren with input from them, is a conversation piece for sure. Not only does the downstairs bedroom sleep 10 with standard size mattresses in the bunk beds, but the ceiling features the planets (spheres from Pottery Barn) and stars that literally twinkle in a darkened room.

In the downstairs media room, Laura and Cindy found large pulleys in a small antique store down the road to hang from the ceiling as accent pieces. The nearby wine cellar was built with a pallet of brick purchased from a site in downtown Paducah. Oddly enough, it was from Metzger Meats. (Cindy's maiden name is Metzger.)

The Hutson girls are Alison, 34, Annie, 32, and Nikki, 24. Each helped with some of the design choices for their bedrooms when the home was being built. Nikki played guitar, so her room reflects that hobby.

It's a family affair when the Hutsons are at the lake house.

"We hang out mostly at the pool and downstairs during the summer months," Cindy said. Built with attention to detail and thoughtful planning, the Hutson home is an ideal place for all to relax and enjoy the views.

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