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Transformation of a West End home

Story by Pat Brockenborough Photography by Vicki Hunkler

Who can forget the devastating ice storm of 2009 that knocked out utilities for days, even weeks? The storm was destructive and widespread, affecting property for miles around. The damage was not only inconvenient for property owners, but costly, as broken limbs and trees were cleared away.

You would never say any good could come from the problems the event created, unless you were like Lisa and John Craft, who found the loss of trees in their backyard serendipitous. The storm took down three large trees in their backyard, destroyed a patio and partially destroyed a concrete block wall.

But that was not the end of the damage.

"When the last tree came down in 2013," Lisa said, "we decided to put a pool in. I had an idea I would like to build a brick wall to enclose the area. I called (landscape designer) John Gust and he designed and drew it out for me. Lee's Pools and Spas put the pool in and then we did the wall."

The project, which began in July of 2013, was finally completed in September of the following year. "It was a headache," Lisa recalled.

A headache, perhaps, but the Craft property was completely transformed. The high brick wall stretching from the rear of the house to the guest house at the rear of the property created an elegant paved courtyard with black iron patio furniture and random potted plants. Black iron gates were specially made to create access to the driveway. The black and white color scheme even includes the patches of black mulch.

As we know, one home improvement project leads to another.

The front of the Craft house has undergone a transformation as well, with new shutters at the windows, an entablature over the front door, installation of handrails at the front steps and some landscape changes. Because of the tree loss, the Craft property has been beautifully updated.

The recent renovation to the property was not the first update. It was constructed as a two-story brick house in the 1960s by the late H.E. Fisher. Records indicate that the name on the deed was Eula Stewart.

The next residents were Louise and Roy Woodall, who gave it a "New Orleans French Quarter" look by adding black wrought iron in front of the windows on the second floor.

Inside, the ceiling light fixtures, chandeliers and wall sconces were all antique, having been purchased by Mrs. Woodall from the nearby historic Jacob Nathaniel and Thelma Bailey house that was being razed to make way for the construction of Immanuel Baptist Church.

Subsequent owners Dona and Greg Rains had the wrought iron removed, built a garage and installed a circular drive at the front of the house.

When the Crafts moved into the house, located in Paducah's West End on Ridgewood Avenue, they created a transformation by painting the brick pale gray.

It was here they raised their children, Sarah, now a Clark Elementary School kindergarten teacher, and Jonathan, a Murray State University student.

The Craft house reflects the architecture of the 1960s - foyer, living and dining rooms and kitchen on the ground floor, with bedrooms and baths up a flight of stairs. The décor could be described as "English Country Manor" with its English period antiques and fine old prints on the walls, the subjects being horses and hunting dogs.

The exception would be Jonathan's room, which is a reflection of his favorite pastimes, hunting and golf. Taxidermy deer and fowl hang on the walls, while a comfortable red and white striped chair provides a shot of color.

Another upstairs room is home to musical instruments and a quiet place for John to practice.

The light fixtures purchased by Mrs. Woodall are still in place throughout the home. The baths have been updated and redecorated in Lisa's favorite black and white color scheme. The kitchen has been redone, as well, featuring an antique dining set and corner cabinet showcasing Lisa's collection of Hadley pottery.

A powder room has a two-way access to the kitchen and the living room. The sunny, yellow-walled kitchen is a lovely place to enjoy English tea and cake with Lisa! The Crafts can enjoy their morning coffee or an afternoon aperitif on a small porch outside the kitchen door.

But one cannot linger long here as the pool invites a dip into its clear, cool, blue water.

Posh has saved what one might consider the jewel in the crown for last - the 100-year-old carriage house at the rear of the courtyard that has been lovingly preserved through the years. The area is believed to have been farmland or perhaps an orchard. The carriage house was a solid brick structure, with a stable at ground level and living quarters above.

After the residence was built, the carriage house was preserved and occupied by renters.

It offered adequate and comfortable housing for its tenants through the years, but for the Crafts it has morphed into a handsomely decorated guest house for visiting family members, thanks to Lisa's creativity.

Her affinity for simple black and white décor dominates the colors in all of the rooms, which include a well-appointed kitchen, powder room and sitting room on the ground level, and upstairs, three bedrooms and two baths.

One of the bedrooms was originally a sleeping porch. All of the furnishings, beds tables, bookcases and cabinets are antique, as well as the light fixtures that Mrs. Woodall had installed years before. Several accessories and prints again reveal Lisa's love of horses.

"We just used what we had," Lisa said. Some were inherited and some purchased from local antique dealers.

Particularly inviting is the master bedroom with its English cherry paneled walls and wood burning fireplace. The farm workers who originally occupied these quarters were pampered indeed.

Oh, to be a visiting Craft family member in the well-appointed, comfortable guest house, enclosed by a walled courtyard and offering the amenity of a private swimming pool. And to think it all happened because of what was originally felt to be a natural disaster. n

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