Not many families in Frankfort can say that they have a “natatorium,” or year-round indoor pool, in their back yard. But that’s what the Abney family have created at their home in The Woodlands neighborhood.
David explains that his wife, Lauren, really wanted a pool for their children. His response to her was, “If we’re going to have a pool, let’s have one we can use year-round!” That’s when the wheels started turning. David and Lauren began researching what type of structures were available and what would work in their backyard. They decided on a curved polycarbonate permanent structure with sliding panels that encloses the 2,300 square foot pool area.
Taking the plunge
They broke ground in Oct. 2017 and thought they would be splashing in their new pool before Christmas of that year. According to David, building a unique structure in their backyard came with a few setbacks along the way. They finally opened the pool 13 months after they started the process.
“The sliding enclosure was manufactured by a company in upstate New York called AquaShield,” David comments. “There are a few companies in the United States who make commercial sliding enclosures but they were extremely expensive. This product seemed to meet our concerns and was much more affordable. It is made of polycarbonate (a fancier plexiglass) and was re-engineered by the company to meet the requirements (namely, snow load) for a permanent structure according to the Kentucky and Franklin County Building Codes.”
The enclosure allows the family to enjoy the pool and entertainment areas during every season. The sleek, black pool, that is four to five feet in depth, has a waterfall at one end that can be programmed to change color. There are two ledges along the side of the pool, one shallow and one deeper. Inviting black and white striped lounge chairs are lined up for relaxing by the pool.
Helen Hall Abney, 11, explains with a smile, “We like to have spontaneous dance clinics and aerobics in the pool. The leader stands on the ledge.”
The “natatorium” isn’t just about the pool. There is a large kitchen area complete with a hibachi grill, a fireplace with permanent sticks ready for marshmallow roasting at a moment’s notice and a Bottoms Up keg for adult beverages. The area also has a full bath and extra room.
“We have friends over pretty often,” Ella Abney, 14, says. “It’s really been nice.”
Watching the children jump through the waterfall into the pool, David remarks, “We have a friend who told us it was like we basically built a resort in our backyard, and in a lot of ways that is true. The space is big enough that our whole family as well as our friends can enjoy it.”
The Ramsey house
David and Lauren knew from the first time they saw it that the house on Westover was perfect for their blended family.
“David walked through the house before I did,” Lauren says. “He told me ‘I know you’re gonna love this house!’ and he was right.” She continues, “There’s a certain spirit and character in this house that you can’t get in a new house. It’s just wonderful for us.”
The five-level, brick home was built in 1955. Dr. James and Kathleen Ramsey raised their large family in the house. “We’ve been told that our master bedroom on the top level was called the dorm room,” David says. “They had three sets of bunk beds in here for the boys.”
Lauren loves the original custom features that they kept in the home. She points out the built-in corner cabinets in the dining area, the deck that was designed by one of the Ramsey sons, the large planter in the front foyer and the big box windows in the front living area. “I’ll never take these things out of the house,” she says. “They’re a part of the history of this house. Even though we like contemporary, I do like to have some traditional things. I’d say I have a more revival-type of taste. I like to take old things and make them more contemporary or modern. Then I mix them in with other things in the house.”
The couple also loves that they have their own neighborhood and house historian right next door. “Brett Scott is the best neighbor in the whole wide world and he has all the history of this neighborhood and of our house,” David says. “He comes and sits on our back deck and tells us so many great stories. He helps to keep the legacy of this house alive for all of us.”
Making it home
David and Lauren have renovated the house to meet their family’s needs and updated areas to their own style. The house has five bedrooms and three full baths plus another full bath in the pool house. “We’ve put on a new roof and painted the exterior of the house, put in a tankless water heater, saved the deck, totally renovated the downstairs bedroom and bathroom.” Thinking through all of the projects they’ve undertaken since buying the home, David remarks, “We’ve also redone all the hardwood floors. Then, of course, we started ‘the project (pool).’”
Nolan Cheshire, 11, says he likes spending time in his basement bedroom and the pool. Ava Clare Jones, 8, enthusiastically adds that she loves the pool all the time. Helen Hall says, “This house fits our family so well. Everyone has their own space.”
Large box windows frame the front living area of the house. An enormous sectional sofa provides the main seating that’s positioned around the television. “We knew this room needed something that would accommodate our family. We all like to have movie night and spread out,” David says. “We ended up going to Restoration Hardware and having them custom-make our couch to fit the dimensions of the room.”
The art for the house is still in the works according to Lauren, but both David and Lauren agree that their favorite piece hangs in the front foyer by the steps. “We call it the “Mary Poppins photo,” she explains.
The photo of the family, with the sun shining behind an umbrella held by one of the children, was taken on the beach at Puerto Vallarta. “We got married at First United Methodist Church here in Frankfort,” Lauren says. “Then, instead of taking a honeymoon, we took a “familymoon” and got married again on the beach with just the six of us.”
The Abney family is happily creating their own memories at the former Ramsey house on Westover. “We’re proud of our little spot and we love our neighborhood,” Lauren remarks.