Over a year ago, Vicki and Don Phillips of Louisville were looking to move from their traditional home in the Highlands neighborhood to one that was more suitable to their taste: contemporary, modern, with a leaning towards the unique and unusual. They found a house on a hill — a modern cottage — that spoke to their up-to-date, yet cozy, inclinations, and it was a perfect fit.

Their new home had reinvented itself, as well. Formerly a two-story brick home with traditional layout and dormers, this residence got an accidental and somewhat tragic facelift when the infamous 1974 Louisville tornado blew the roof and the second story completely off the house. The homeowner at the time decided to rebuild, but not according to the original floor plan. Instead, he changed the look of the house completely, adding a second story with a large living space and three bedrooms. He eliminated the attic, raised the ceilings all the way to the roof and created a large loft space, as well. He also layered the outside of the new addition with wooden shingles to distinguish it from the brick façade of the original home.

Today, this home is nothing like its pre-tornado appearance. In fact, there is not much traditional about this house at all, especially the floor plan. The entrance was moved from the front and facing the street, to the side at the end of a long, uphill driveway. Now the front of the house features a large deck, and with the house being set so high on the hill, the view from above is fantastic. The house is actually built into the hill, as you will see, and the backyard is only accessible from the second floor. Unusual indeed.

When the Phillips moved in, they loved the new addition and open floor plan. They enlisted the help of Jim George at Scout on Market to help decorate their contemporary space with modern furniture, decor, lamps, fixtures and artwork. The home is intimate and warm, while still maintaining clean, contemporary lines.

As we tour this modern cottage, notice the lamps in each room, as well as the orchids. Vicki loves lamps and sees them as artwork, so they are all distinctive in their own right. She also loves flowers, notably orchids, and they are present throughout the entire house.

Let’s take a look inside this newly decorated home …

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This modern cottage is a mix of old brick and newer shingles.

modern cottage

The main entry is not in the front of the house; it is this shingled, covered, brick entryway located on the side of the home.

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The front entrance leads into the new foyer. The brick façade is the former exterior wall of the original house. Two concrete lamps flank a black buffet and original artwork.

DINING ROOM

The dining room is part of the original house. Previously, there was a half-wall that created a semi-hallway space within the dining room. That wall was removed, and lighter paint was applied. The room is a mix of old and new furniture. There’s an antique armoire that has been in Vicki’s family for years, as well as a new dining room set.

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The dining room is directly off the main foyer and is part of the original house.

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The homeowners removed a partial wall and opened up the space.

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The beautiful chandelier highlights the glass-topped dining room table, orchids and original art.

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A close-up shot of this chandelier complements the orchids.

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This is original artwork by Louisville artist Barry Burcaw. The homeowners have two of his paintings in the house; this one is entitled “Winter Solstice.”

KITCHEN

The kitchen had been renovated recently, so the Phillips only did a few improvements in this room. They changed out the backsplash, adjusted the open shelving and bought a couple of new appliances. The kitchen, which is actually the front of the house, is full of light. Off the kitchen (not pictured) is a large front deck.

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The kitchen was modernized before they moved in. They only added a couple of appliances and the tile backsplash.

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We love the green on green —limes and plant life against the green tile backsplash.

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Terrariums can be found around the house as well, bringing modern greenery to the residence.

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A view of the kitchen from the side hallway shows the actual front of the house and its beautiful light.

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This side nook is near the kitchen. Behind the frosted glass and mahogany door is basement storage. This first floor of the house is built into the hill.

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We love the beautiful barware.

DEN

Adjacent to the kitchen is the den, which was an addition in 1974, as well, in what was believed to be a former porch area. Now it is a bright, airy space, with raised ceilings and beams, skylights and a wall of windows.

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This former porch is now the den.

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Luminous mercury lamps flank both sides of the couch in the den.

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Note the original brick exterior wall in this view into the kitchen from the den.

SECOND FLOOR LIVING SPACE

The second floor is all an addition from 1974. It is an eclectic use of space, with one long narrow room and three bedrooms flanking it on two sides. The ceiling was raised all the way to the roof, and a loft was built on one side of the space. That loft is a substantial, but currently unused, area, accessible by the circular staircase shown in the picture. The Phillips have recently learned that the homeowner who designed the space in 1974 had a grand piano in the loft. There is a space covered by a barn door that is currently used as a closet, but formerly housed an organ. There is a lowered ceiling across from the loft where a bench was located for guests to take a seat. They believe that the homeowner would play music for his guests up in the loft while they enjoyed the entertainment from down below.

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The second floor addition is a long, narrow living space flanked by bedrooms on two sides.

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At one end of the room is a music space, where Don Phillips enjoys listening to music, especially vinyl records.

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The living space upstairs features plenty of texture.

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Another Barry Burcaw original hangs above the fireplace in the second floor living space. This is entitled “Pyramids of Giza.”

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This low ceiling area was once home to a bench, where guests would sit and listen to the previous homeowner play the piano or the organ.

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Tucked away next to the low ceiling area is a small bar, where you’ll find wine and coffee, as well as a doggie bowl.

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Here’s another view of this hidden bar. You can see that this was an addition to the original house by the brick exterior wall.

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We love the spiral staircase up to the loft space.

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A view down from the loft to the music nook

BEDROOMS

Off the second floor living space are three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

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The master bedroom is light gray with complementary gray bedding.

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Here’s another unique set of lamps in the bedroom.

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The master bathroom is modern and sleek with wood closet space lining the room.

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Orchids, wood and great lighting accent this master bathroom.

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Here is a guest bedroom that faces the back of the house. This bedroom was once a music production room, which contained control panels connected to speakers all over the house. The speakers were so dated, they were not even stereo speakers.

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This door has the only access to the backyard from the second floor.

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The third bedroom is a vision in white and gold.

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Another of the many beautiful lamps in this house

Leaving this modern cottage, stop and admire all the wooden shingles, which seem like an art installment to themselves.

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Photography by Christine Mueller Photography

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