Great Bones

Usually when you set out to purchase a house, you'd like to be able to actually see it before you lay down the cash. Some eight years ago, Luke Hodges and Tom Wallace, both Lexington natives, heard about a great deal on a house on Lexington's south side.

So Hodges went to check out the house on Tahoma. But because it had sat vacant for two years, a jungle of boxwoods and wildflowers had grown up over the front of the house, leaving it virtually unrecognizable. "You had to have vision," said Hodges. "It was a little scary the way it was."

Luckily, Hodges' instincts did not fail him. To see the house today, you would never imagine it had a former life of such disarray. But out of the figurative ashes came a Phoenix that "had great bones" as Hodges says.

Those bones were the original woodwork in the house, today shining bright and new thanks to a good dose of Murphy's Oil soap and some elbow grease. That was all that was needed to bring the wood back to life.

Now the not-so-easy part. The kitchen was essentially a cubby hole, with barely enough room for the cook, let alone anyone else. And for Hodges, a trained chef, this would not do. So an addition was created on the back of the house, turning the former kitchen into a setting area and adding a large, state-of-the-art kitchen with plenty of room for entertaining. "You can literally have 12-15 people in there talking while I'm cooking," said Hodges.

The entertainment factor was key, as the two wanted a house that would be able to host lots of friends and family. With the help of architects Mark Isbell and Sara Tate from Tate, Hill & Jacobs, the house was designed around that goal.

Isbell and Tate were also key in helping the new homeowners retain the true character of the home. "They had a reputation of maintaining the feel of older homes," said Hodges, one of the deciding factors for choosing this firm.

After the remodeling was complete, they had almost doubled the size of the house. However, the addition didn't take away from the cozy bungalow style of the home. "It has an English cottage, Frank Lloyd Wright, craftsmen air about it," said Wallace. And because of their eclectic style of decorating, everything works together in unison. A family heirloom, a portrait of Wallace's great-great-great uncle, hangs just feet away from a lamp bought on sale at Pottery Barn. "We are good shoppers, and it's easier when you're not stuck on one style," said Hodges.

Their versatile style is evident as you go up the rich, wooden stairs to their living quarters and are greeted by a bevy of Broadway musical posters lining the walls. But somehow, it fits. Then in the master bedroom, opposite their bed neatly blanketed in cream linens, are two gently worn cat beds for Barbarella and Roxie. It's this yin and yang of the house's decor that makes it so inviting. "We want you to be able to put your feet up anywhere," said Wallace. "There's no pretense."

OK, one thing the two are known for isn't exactly pretentious, but it's a little prissy, Hodges admits. The seating in the living room doesn't always look like it does now. Today, it has its spring attire on; come fall, the darker colors come out. "You know spring is here when we get the slipcovers out," said Hodges. Yep, even the couch gets to play dress up.

Although the inside is magnificent, the outside runs a close second. What truly won them over was the yard, despite its chaotic appearance when they first saw the house. "It was the yard that was so cool," said Hodges. "We knew a new house would never have this kind of space about it."

Space indeed. The yard is deceptively large, with enough room for Hodges and Wallace to move forward on phase two of their remodeling plan-a pool and poolhouse in the backyard. Phase three isn't far behind either. The current one-car garage will be torn out, making way for a two-car garage with a small apartment at the top. The apartment is forward-thinking, in case one of their parents is in need of a place to stay as they get older.

And the two plan to be right here when that time comes around. "This is it. This is our house," said Hodges. So envious admirers will simply have to settle for the pictures below.

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