At Home in Horse Country


Nothing and everything about Derek and Wendy Weiss’s home is what one would expect in the heart of Kentucky’s famed Bluegrass Country.

An allèe of leaf-filled trees shades the drive over gently rollling landscape. Fenced pasture filled with clover and several happily-fed thoroughbreds outline the lay of the land. A turreted and chimney-dotted roofline looms over the horizon, followed by a sprawling French-styled chateau that if you didn’t blink twice, would be the icing on the cake after a transatlantic voyage.

Stunning details include a curving staircase in the turret, arched doorways, cedar ceiling beams and an intricate hand laid brick floors in the kitchen. Find the perfect bar stool to complement your kitchen décor.

A Confluence of Design and Styles

A Confluence of Design and Styles The 11,000 sq. ft. custom home is every stone mason’s dream, complete with hand-laid brick inside and out, natural fieldstone, and slate veranda floors. “My husband always wanted to build in horse country,” the vivacious Wendy admits. She wanted a French country design that was stylish and comfortable for their family of four. He leaned more towards the architecture of English Tudors.

Living in New Orleans the couple gained an appreciation for the city’s confluence of design, they settled on merging their styles into an Old World masterpiece. When they moved to Lexington in 2003, a realtor showed the couple the rarest of finds-16 acres of prestigious farmland near the Kentucky Horse Park. They bought the land and a house in the city where they resided until their dream home could be built.

After interviewing several custom builders, the Weisses selected Tom Padgett of Padgett Construction to translate their Old World vision into a reality. A year in the planning and 1½ more years in the making, the exterior mirrors a European home with several additions that might have been added to the original structure. Stone forms the heart of the estate, with side wings and a rotund turret constructed of a brick composite similar to stucco. Gas lanterns and hinged plank shutters flank the arched wooden doorway and windows. The tile roof, one of Derek’s pre-requisites for the house visually unites the main residence, porte-cochère and six-car garages (one attached and one freestanding). Derek, being a pragmatic surgeon, hand-selected the MonierLifetile roof with copper trim for its European look and lifetime guarantee. Once completed, the home won an award for the New Builder’s House of the Year.

Our Campagna Outdoor Furniture Collection adds rustic charm to the north-facing veranda.

The Setting Is as Spectacular as the French-inspired Home.

Out front, weeping willows form the gallery around a large mouth bass and bluegill-stocked pond with water-jettisoning fountain. To the rear of the home, an in-ground saltwater pool and elevated whirlpool sparkle in the sunlight. Three verandas, one leading from the master suite, another intimate-sized screened porch, and a larger veranda running the length of the kitchen and family room afford views of the pool and the daughter’s playhouse nearby. Deeply cushioned seating, a wood-burning fireplace, slate floor, and exposed timber beams make the latter veranda a favorite destination. “We love hosting parties outdoors,” says Wendy. “Derek is happy to do most of the cooking.” Bordering horse farms, Adena indian earthworks and Elkhorn Creek enhance the buccolic setting.

Though grand on the outside, the interior is warm and family-centric. “Guests are always amazed by the scale when they walk inside,” says Wendy. “Interior designer Shannon Lisk played a big role in translating our desire for an intimate perspective.” Making 6,500 sq. ft. of finished space feel cozy is no sleight of hand. Hand-painted wallpaper used throughout the home gives the walls a wonderful troweled texture. A series of French doors spanning the length of the great room, help unify the room’s living and dining areas. Knotty alder doors from Colorado and wrought-iron light fixtures designed to appear as flickering gas lights are accents evoking Old-World appeal.

The main level includes a spacious foyer leading to a curving staircase, the master suite, offices for Derek and Wendy, great room, kitchen, family room, mudroom, laundry room, and butler’s pantry. Another spiraling staircase in the turret connects the downstairs to the playroom and three bedrooms on the upper level. “My favorite room is the guest room upstairs,” states Wendy. “I love standing on the Juliet balcony and seeing horses grazing on neighboring fields.”

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In the children’s playroom, another picturesque Juliet balcony overlooks the family room below. Patterned brick floors and exposed cedar beams unite the family room with the adjoining kitchen. If the family ever wants to increase their living area, there is additional unfinished space over the porte cochère and garage, and in the basement.

True to its French country inspiration, many of the kitchen appliances are concealed behind elegant antique white and black-washed cabinetry. The mansard-roof copper hood was created especially for the family’s Viking gas range. Other culinary features include a copper farmhouse sink, fleur-de-lis tile backsplash, granite-topped island, blown glass pendant fixtures, and separate prep sink.

On the opposite end of the house, the softly-shaded master suite and soaring exposed beam ceiling stand in striking contrast to Derek’s mahogany-paneled office complete with Rumford fireplace and ponyhair-accented leather chair. The master bath’s porcelain clawfoot tub appears to be an antique, however, closer inspection reveals it as a heated whirlpool spa. Craftsmen spent months detailing the fabric-fronted bath cabinetry, cedar-lined walk-in closets, and travertine tile flooring. “Building this home really was a wonderful experience,” says Wendy. “We had workers practically living here and the end result was definitely worth it.”


HOME SITE: In Lexington, Kentucky, home sits on 16 acres of the world’s most exclusive horse country.

LIVING SPACE: 6,300 square feet finished space, icluding great room, family room, family room, master suite, kitchen, mudroom, two offices, three bedrooms, children’s playroom, and three bathrooms. Unfinished space resides over six-car garage and in the basement.

STYLE:Old World French County Chateau

BUILDER: Padgett Construction