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My Old Kentucky Home

Dace Stubbs bought a 200-year-old cabin to restore, discovering only later that she'd purchased a piece of her family's history.

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The kitchen's shelves and plate racks
match the cabin's period style
and display Dace's yellowware.
+ enlarge

Challenges of the Log Cabin

One big challenge was shoehorning in two tiny new bathrooms as discreetly as possible. Another was the original kitchen (once a freestanding structure), which lacked cabinetry and needed major work, including custom white cupboards, new open shelves and panels to hide modern necessities such as the refrigerator. "It's not a really high-tech kitchen, but it works," Dace says. "It's very cozy."

Some modern concessions simply weren't made. "There are no closets, so we use Shaker pegs," says Dace, who encourages guests to pack lightly. "Bring blue jeans and shirts. We're very casual." The limited space also dictates that most decorative objects serve a practical purpose, too. Old pottery works for dinner dishes, vintage bedding warms chilly nights and a pewter mug holds flowers.

Dace furnishes the home with quilts, wood game boards, blue-and-white stoneware and American flags. "I'm kind of a country girl, and I love the casualness and intrigue of Americana and antiques," she says.

Dace and King's restoration extends even to the land. "We're real conservationists," Dace says. "I've farmed all my adult life and grew up on a farm." Today, crops fill the fields, and the barns hold horses, cattle and llamas. An easement will ensure the property is never subdivided.

The couple's four grandchildren are particularly taken with the miniature pony that pulls a kid-size cart. "It's like going on a treasure hunt," Dace says of the little ones' frequent visits. "We go collect worms and fish a lot."

The grandkids are still too young to enjoy one of the family's signature traditions: Kentucky bourbon. Dace's great-grandfather sold his first bourbon in 1870; today, the company, Brown-Forman, employs more than 7,000 people, including many family members.

It was common for early settlers here to grow corn, distill it for whiskey, then feed cattle with residue from the bourbon-making. Much like life on this family farm, "it's a perfect cycle," Dace says.

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