People have said it before: "My home is a work in progress." And Carlton Ridge is no different than most in that she describes the renovation and decorating of her historic home in Oldham County as a continuing process.
Upon entering the house, it's hard to imagine what else Ridge could do to make the English-cottage-inspired home more welcoming. A terraced entry with wide steps leads into what was once a covered porch, but is now a light-filled interior foyer. From there, you get a glimpse of what's to come: open, airy rooms that flow into one another. Peeking into the rest of the house from the entry, you might be amazed at just how well the mix of casual elegance and wit and whimsy work together. But that's Carlton Ridge for you.
Ridge is a successful jewelry designer, whose creations are sold the world over. Her designs possess a sophisticated look derived from down-to-earth elements found in nature. Her creative energy has bubbled over from her jewelry business, Sutton Hoo Inc., into an interior design business. And while her jewelry line will continue, her interior design business is yet another showcase for her unique vision.
That vision is evident as you drive down the tree-lined gravel lane to Netherfield, Ridge's 11-acre farm. The farm's name comes from the Jane Austin novel "Pride and Prejudice" and the English influence is felt throughout the home beginning with the roof. Made of rolled asphalt, it was designed to resemble thatch. Ridge is quick to point out, however, "This house is not a museum." Antiques, reproductions - even TJ Maxx bargains - mix seamlessly, enhanced by handcrafted accents, folk art, and wall color that is at once soothing, but carries a bit of a punch. Perhaps the home's style is best described as English cottage with a wink and a nod to whimsy.
But the house, which Ridge says dates to the mid-1800s and is the oldest in Oldham County, was not always in such fine shape. Ridge moved to the farm in November 2000 and said she fell in love with a tree-covered oasis on the property she thought would be perfect for outdoor parties. First, though, she had to tackle the property's residence.
"I suppose I like turning sows' ears into silk purses," she says with a laugh. "I just love decorating, and I just love old houses."
The renovation was completed in July 2001 and included the removal of walls to open up the space and the addition of the new foyer, windows, French doors, fireplaces, terraces, and a spacious great room. After living on-site during the renovation, Ridge and her two sons, 23-year-old Alex Auerbach and 15-year-old Peter Auerbach, now have approximately 4,600-square-feet of comfortable, functional living space. The three-bedroom house was in such disarray during the renovation process that Peter could only access his second-floor bedroom via an extension ladder placed outside the house.
Ridge insisted that the house's former living room walls come down, revealing not only the staircase, but also the second-floor landing. Ridge said the walls and low ceiling had to go because the space was dark. Now it's filled with light, thanks to a soaring ceiling, apple wood floors, and the addition of French doors on each side of the stone fireplace.