Kayla and Matt Lee wanted every room to have a story in their home built on family land, just a stone’s throw from the Shelby County line on Old U.S. 60. That meant lots of research, bargain hunting and repurposing of materials, according to Kayla. Using ideas from Pinterest, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Farms and family heirlooms, the couple have succeeded in creating a comfortable home.
They moved to their new house in September 2018 after a rainy 14-month build. “We didn’t realize we’d be going through this process during the wettest year on record in Kentucky,” she said, laughing.
The Southern Living house plan they chose, Sugarberry Cottage, has a warm and cozy feel just like the name. It’s a Southern farmhouse with an inviting wrap-around porch that gives them a view of Kayla’s grandfather’s home, her parent’s home and Graefenburg Baptist Church where the couple met. They like having family nearby.
“We’re just really close-knit,” Kayla remarks. We all get along really well and are together several nights a week for gatherings like family game night at my grandpa’s house.”
The land where Matt and Kayla built their home is part of an original 60-acre tract owned by her family since post Civil War. “I think between all of us, we have about 30 acres now. Matt and I own eight and a half acres of that acreage,” Kayla explains.
Reused and repurposed
The house sits very close to where the old Cogswell place, Kayla’s great-grandparents’ home, was located. “One of the first things we did when we decided to build here was to take down what was left of my great-grandparents’ house,” Kayla says. “It was falling in and my grandparents wanted it removed.”
“We took as much as we could to use in our new house,” Matt says. “Almost every room has something from the old house. We even tried to take the flooring, but it was just too hard to get it moved.”
The bricks forming the outside walk are from the old house, as well as accent pieces throughout Kayla and Matt’s home. In the living area is a mantel reclaimed from her great-grandparents’ house. “My great-grandparents got engaged in front of that mantel,” Kayla says. A small framed photo of her great-grandparents standing in front of the same mantel has a place of honor on the very same mantel in the Lee house.
The kitchen door from the old home has been sanded down to a “chippy paint” and used in the couple’s basement. The kitchen sink and cabinet have been repurposed to be used in the laundry room. There is also a rocking horse found in the old home for Matt and Kayla’s young daughter, Delta Sue.
“When we took the stuff out of the old house, I laid it out in front of the old garage down there and took a picture,” Kayla says. “Then my sister-in-law had it made into a graphic painting.” That painting includes signs from Kayla’s great-grandfather’s restaurant from the 1940s.
Throughout the house there are interesting stories about furniture and antique pieces. The kitchen island came from an old general store in Michigan. It ended up, according to Kayla, in London, Kentucky, before they bought it. A reclaimed kitchen cabinet that matches the island was found at an auction in Bridgeport. It’s filled with dishes from Kayla’s grandmother. A unique turquoise loveseat found at a yard sale for $5 serves as seating at the dining table.
The couple got much of the style used in their four bedroom, three and a half bath home from Chip and Joanna Gaines, who host a popular HGTV show based in Waco, Texas. “When I was pregnant with Delta,” Kayla explains, “I told Matt I want to go on one more trip before she comes. So, we drove to Magnolia Farm in Texas and brought back lots of ideas. I took a lot of pictures!”
Kayla also says that much of her inspiration came from Pinterest, Instagram and IdeaBoardz. “There’s no way I could build a house without them. I would have these ideas in my head and I would try to make them happen when designing a room, but they would always turn out looking like an arts and crafts project instead of a cohesive room,” Kayla says. “Now, you can type in whatever you’re looking for and it will bring up dozens of rooms. Then you can piece together what you like.”
For example, Pinterest and social media helped Kayla find the perfect companion wallpaper for Delta Sue’s bedroom. “I wanted a wallpaper that matched the quilt my mom made for Delta. I stumbled upon a wall that was on a Pinterest room and I followed that link back to a store called Home Base, but it was in the United Kingdom,” she laughs. “So, I reached out via social media asking if anyone had a contact in the U.K. that would be willing to go to the store, buy the wallpaper and mail it to Kentucky. Believe it or not, someone I didn’t know reached out to me and did it! The shipping cost was more than the paper.”
Hand-carved trucks made by Kayla’s grandfather, who she calls Daw, sit on the floor of Delta Sue’s room. They are intricate and special heirloom toys. “Each one has the date and his signature,” Kayla comments.
In the right place
The couple used Jimmy Shelton as their builder and say that it was a good partnership. “He does everything old school. We worked together and he has become like family to us,” Kayla says. Kayla, who is an occupational therapist, wanted the house to be ADA accessible where possible.
Matt, who works at the Federal Medical Center of Lexington, loves the location of their home. “I just like how quiet and peaceful it is, especially at night. I don’t mind driving from work. It’s actually very convenient to anything you want to do. The interstate is right here,” Matt comments.
Matt and Kayla have worked together to create a home where they can enjoy family and friends for years to come. “We met right down the road at Graefenburg Baptist Church. We always knew we wanted to end up here,” Kayla says.