With two young children, full-time careers and two neighborhood Airbnb properties, Bethany and Joshua Adams are quite busy living and working in Old Louisville.
Originally from northern New Hampshire, Bethany studied Japanese at Georgetown University. Joshua, a native New Yorker, also attended Georgetown, where he was an English major. However, despite living a few doors away from each other at one point, they did not meet each other while attending school there! It wasn’t until 2001 when they were both teaching interns at the St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire that their paths crossed. At the time, Joshua was studying for his Master’s in Theology from the University of Chicago, while Bethany was still an undergrad. After Bethany graduated college, and a brief stint in Massechusets, they both moved to Chicago where Bethany studied Interior Design at Harrington College of Design and Joshua obtained his PhD in Comparative Literature, also from the University of Chicago. The two married in 2006 and lived in Chicago’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood for more than a decade. (From 2010-11, they lived in Paris, France, where their first daughter Evelyn was born!)
The family moved to Louisville in 2014 when Joshua began his job as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville. Coming from the culturally and historically diverse neighborhood of Hyde Park, which is home to the University of Chicago, Bethany and Joshua wanted to replicate that experience by living close to UofL. They were immediately taken with the beauty of Old Louisville, and rented an apartment at the corner of Magnolia and Second Street.
In 2015, they purchased and renovated their first Old Louisville house near Sixth and Oak Streets. For the remarkable transformation of this home, Bethany, who is a Certified Interior Designer through Kentucky Board of Architecture, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as well as the American Institution of Architects (AIA), was awarded the ASID award for “Best Residential Space over 2,000 sf” and “Best in Show.” It was also featured on the 2016 AIA Home Tour. The couple then purchased the cottage next door at 1209 S. Sixth, which Bethany now uses as a meeting space for her business, Bethany Adams Interiors, which specializes in high-end residential projects. Since moving to their new home, Bethany and Joshua have reimagined both 6th street properties as popular AirBnB rentals. Bethany has also done design work in several Old Louisville homes, including a few on this year’s Holiday Home Tour, so you will get to enjoy this award-winning interior designer’s work first-hand!
Bethany and Joshua wanted to expand their family, so in 2016 they began looking for larger properties in the neighborhood. They were drawn to the relatively more modern style of 1251 S. First Street, and were impressed that it had survived over a century with many of its original features in tact. They purchased the home and Bethany set about doing the work about which she is so passionate – transforming Victorian homes into modern, livable spaces while preserving their integrity. After more than a year of renovations, the family was able to move into their home in November 2017 – just in time for the birth of baby Iris early this year!!
Built in 1896, this 4,500 square-foot Late 19th Century architectural-style home was commissioned by Anne G. Porter for use as a rental property. Among the early tenants were a bookkeeper, an insurance salesman, and a ladies’ tailor. While the home was at one point used as apartments, the walls were never moved (or removed) and thus the original floor plan remains. Distinctive original features include a cast concrete hitching post in the shape of a tree stump, a marble walkway believed to be the only one of it’s kind remaining in the neighborhood, and a front porch that is integral to the home’s original design, unlike those of many Victorian homes, which were added at a later date. These, plus a second story balcony, make its exterior quite striking. Step through the original beveled glass front door into the entryway to find an unusual fireplace built into the base of the main staircase with a chimney that goes out the side of the house. Three corner fireplaces and pocketed windows that disappear into the walls when raised are also very unique. The home also boasts original features such as stained glass windows going up the main staircase, fireplace mantels and their tile surrounds, door and window hardware, a built-in in the butler’s pantry, and cast-iron laundry sinks in the basement mudroom.
Bethany and Joshua have accomplished a great deal since purchasing the home in 2016. They have refinished the hardwood floors, changed out all lighting fixtures, painted most of the first floor (and have begun painting the second). Renovations in the rear of the first floor include updates to the powder room and butler’s pantry, and the creation of a breathtaking new gourmet kitchen. Marble slabs were used throughout the kitchen to reference the front walkway as well as the original marble on the walls of the master bathroom. Some walls have been removed between the basement stairs and kitchen, opening up hallways for easier flow between rooms and a more modern, open feel. The couple also rebuilt the stairway leading to the basement, waterproofed the foundation walls, poured a new concrete floor, and refinished the original laundry room sinks in what is now an awesome basement mudroom!
Throughout the home Bethany’s stunning interior design work can be seen. Daughter Evelyn’s room is like something out of a fairy tale and baby Iris’s nursery is as sweet as you’d expect it to be. Bethany has cleverly taken care to ensure that their furniture is childproof (or at least child friendly). Rugs are indoor/outdoor; chairs are covered in faux leather or have been treated for easy cleaning. In keeping with Bethany’s knack for bringing new life to old things, most of the furniture on the first floor is vintage and has been recovered or restored. With its original upholstery, the pink sofa in the living room fits into this “modern” Victorian home seamlessly.
This family thoroughly enjoys their Old Louisville home and the beautiful neighborhood in which it is located. Joshua walks and bikes to his office at the University of Louisville. Bethany often takes new baby Iris strolling through the neighborhood, and Evelyn is particularly fond of the Toonerville Trolley Park and going to North Lime for donuts!