Louisville Magazine

OCT 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/388156

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Page 152 of 172

134 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.14 design Architecture "W e're not raising our kids here," Jenny Osborne told her husband Marcus. Tey were living in New York and their second daughter had recently been born. "Oh, what's so wrong with it?" Marcus said. He'd grown up in London. For him, New York wasn't all that forbidding. But Jenny remembered her childhood in Crescent Hill, where streets were tree- lined and kids walked everywhere. She wanted that sylvan experience for her daughters, Roxy and Ruby. Once, during a meditation exercise, Jenny visualized her perfect world: a house with trees in the back. Serene neighborhood. Not New York. So they moved to Louisville. And for seven years, the Osbornes camped out at Jenny's mom's house in St. Matthews. Tey dreamed and schemed to build a home. Tey readjusted. Uprooting their lives to move back to Kentucky required more than a shift in real estate for the Osbornes. Financially, the decision made instant sense. "Just getting low- end day care in New York was equal to my teaching salary," Jenny says. But for Marcus, who had worked in flm and television production in New York, it required a career reset. Jenny encouraged him to get into education. Marcus earned a master's in special education from Spalding University and went on to work three years at Dixie Elementary in Valley Station. ("Tat was a diferent planet," Marcus says. "I never knew before that pajamas were acceptable daily wear.") In St. Matthews, Jenny launched a tutoring business called the Academy of Louisville. (Marcus works there too.) Somewhere along the way they found the lot they were looking for. Sort of. "You couldn't even tell there was a lot there. It was so overgrown," Jenny says. "Tere was just a tiny little sign with black letters: Lot for Sale. I thought, 'Are you kidding me?'" But, there it was. Te perfect world once imagined now a possibility. On Coral Avenue, Jenny and Marcus would build their aerie overlooking Bingham Memorial Park of Lower Brownsboro Road. Perched amid the trees. Te 40-somethings didn't really know what they were getting into. For starters, they planned to build a 2,400-square- foot house. It ended up closer to 3,400 square feet. Together with the land, it cost about half a million. But they paid for experts, saved money by not hiring a general contractor. "It's tougher than you think to build," Marcus says. "You need an expert. And you need someone who really knows the local workers, the local materials." Te house is the creation of Louisville architect Mose Putney. It's a monolithic statement in gray and stone among the Victorian dollhouses of the Clifton neighborhood. Its distinctive, contemporary design meant several sessions with the Clifton Architectural Review Committee, discussing everything from paint color (was the gray exterior too dark?) to whether the exterior Dryvit walls (stucco-like panels with insulation backing) would clash with the neighborhood. At day's end, neither Jenny nor Marcus can complain when they close the door behind them. A two-story atrium in the center of the main living space adds a soaring sensation to the light-flled room. Te home's central staircase — painted from frst foor to fourth with giant, colorful, 1960s-style fowers — unites the four stories. (Te fowers and a downstairs mural are the work of local grafti artist Jef Gahafer.) Te staircase acts like a natural intercom. "We can kind of be together on separate foors and easily talk to each other," Jenny says. "I always know what the kids are doing." Examples of the couple's eclectic taste: an old school-room map, perhaps from the 1930s; a plastic Frank Gehry- designed cofee table in hot-pink; white quartz kitchen counters; what Jenny calls "truck-stop sinks" in the bathrooms; several industrial-chic touches, including a concrete family-room foor and airplane wire on the stairway bannister in place of spindles; every exterior door painted a bright color: yellow, turquoise, hot-pink, orange. Te house brings the outdoors inside on every foor, with big windows looking out on the park, a trio of pocket balconies on the home's south end and, on the main foor — actually the home's second foor — a pier jutting out into the trees. Te pier — a wood deck with a metal surround — feels like the natural extension to the home's bridge entryway on the other side of the main living area. Windows are everywhere. Tere's a view to the backyard for whoever's in the kitchen doing dishes at the stainless- steel restaurant sink. Tere's a window in the kitchen pantry, which is where the refrigerator hides. At frst, the builders were puzzled at Jenny's selection of kitchen cabinets: none. Instead, she went with open boxes of varying heights and depths. "I wanted them diferent, so they would pop," she says. Te fourth foor, which extends over only a small portion of the footprint, was originally to be a rooftop deck. But the Osbornes opted to roof the space, and now Roxy and Ruby, 10 and 12 respectively, use it as a playroom. Te third foor includes the home's third bridge, extending from the daughters' rooms to the master suite. A large window at the apex of the two-story atrium provides a view to the wooded backyard. Of the master bedroom is Jenny's favorite spot in the house: a small balcony with a couch where she likes to curl up with a book. "Nobody knows I'm there," she says. Te lower foor is devoted to family time. It includes Marcus' favorite spot to watch soccer on television: a bathtub. Yep. Right out in the open. Te aerosol- paint mural by Gahafer dominates the room and tells the family's story, if you know the plot points. A robot holding a television set is a reference to Save the Robots, the New York club where Jenny and Marcus met. Tere's a section devoted to the Twin Towers. Te couple met the night before the frst World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and Jenny learned she was pregnant with Ruby on Sept. 11, 2001. Tey're still fguring out what to do with the opposite wall. Maybe a giant Hello Kitty head? Te Osborne home caught the attention of local architect and architecture chronicler Steve Wiser, who at the end of this month will publish a volume in his popular Modern Houses of Louisville, this time with 54 homes instead of 44. "You can't tell a whole lot about (the Osbornes' house) from the outside," Wiser says. "But you open that front door and it just explodes with nature."

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