Hart & Home – Smiley Pete Publishing

On June 12, the Hartland neighborhood will host a guided home tour featuring backyards and outdoor living spaces. From covered patios to pools, water features and scenic landscaped gardens, the tour will highlight more than a dozen of the neighborhood’s most beautiful backyards.

We’ve highlighted Hartland couple John and Sandy Borders’ newly renovated outdoor space, which will be featured on the tour.


Hartland’s outdoor living space gets a big upgrade, just in time for the neighborhood’s first backyard/home tour


John and Sandy Borders built their home in Hartland in 1991 “…with every penny we had,” according to Sandy. The third owners to build in their immediate area, the Borders remodeled and reconfigured their space in stages, allowing it to evolve into their dream home.

Their most recent project, the addition of a screened-in patio and detached garage that doubles as an art studio, fills a functional need and creates more space for the couple to accommodate their family. and friends. With refreshed landscaping, the Borders’ backyard is a peaceful spot for birdwatching while also serving as a playground for their three dogs.

Although not their first renovation, the seed for this project was planted in 1991 during the original construction.

“From the day we built, I wanted a three-car garage, but it wasn’t in our budget at the time,” Sandy said.

Because the neighborhood does not allow front-entry garages, the original two-car garage opens to the side. Expanding that garage would have taken away part of the house’s kitchen – an option Sandy didn’t care about.

“Over the years I tried to figure out how to do it, then I saw an amazing house that had a stone arch that connected a smaller structure to the main part of the house,” she explained. . “I thought it was just an extension of their house, but one night I was driving by and I could see the light from the garage door opener. A light bulb went on and I knew how I could get it. make it work.

Inspired, the Borders opted for a detached rear-entry one-car garage that is connected to the house by a limestone archway. The garage was designed with a second floor that was intended for storage but ended up serving a whole other purpose.

“I wanted the garage to have a second story for storage instead of using an attic with pull-out stairs as we get older,” Sandy said.

A magazine article about Lexington artist Andre Pater changed that plan, however.

“I saw a report in a magazine, and [Pater] had just released his book – I was so impressed I bought a copy,” Sandy said. Later, she decided she wanted to order more books to give as Christmas gifts and emailed the artist after having trouble finding them.

“His wife contacted me and I ended up ordering directly,” Sandy continued. Pater’s wife then emailed Sandy regarding a virtual sketching class Pater was hosting in September 2020, with all proceeds going to the National Sporting Library and Museum.

“I signed up John, knowing that the last time he had drawn – really the only time he had ever drawn anything – was when we got engaged in 1977 and he drew my engagement picture. [But] I knew he had it in him. »

John took the online drawing course and, as his wife says, “he’s been drawing non-stop ever since.”

“So my storage space is now a drawing studio,” Sandy said with a laugh.

John, a doctor specializing in internal medicine, added: “I had never done any other drawing than this in the 1970s, but that’s what she remembered. I drew my first thing in October 2020, and I kept going. The first lesson was all I needed.

The studio is a cozy space filled with light from windows that overlook the backyard, offering serene views of trees and birds. One wall, at Sandy’s suggestion, is covered in corkboard, acting as an impromptu gallery for John’s sketches and drawings.

“Every time I draw something, I make a copy and stick it on the wall,” John said.

Another wishlist item the couple added to the home is a screened-in porch — something Sandy had always wanted. The porch opens to the kitchen and outdoor patio on one side and to the driveway under the new arch on the opposite side. The room is anchored by a large limestone wood-burning fireplace.

“It was the back of the house, and we were just going to leave the brick exposed, but our painter suggested whitewashing. I said, ‘Just go ahead; you all know that better than me’ , Sandy said.

With the whitewashed brick walls, a birch wood ceiling and the limestone of the fireplace make the porch light and airy. With both casual seating and a dining area, the new porch is perfect for summer entertaining.

“We are part of a life group of six couples, so we planned around that. The goal was to house this group,” Sandy said.

To complete the project, the Borders had a curved limestone retaining wall built around the edge of the new driveway.

John said: “The contractor used a team of world-class stonemasons. They took their time with the arch and other stonework. They didn’t seem to care how long it took. It was going to be perfect. »

A steep slope to one side of the yard is covered in ferns and other greenery, with a stone staircase installed that fits in perfectly. Lined with boxwood, ferns, hostas and other plants – many of which have been preserved from the original landscaping – the new landscaping is accentuated by the existing mature trees and the visual benefits of the absence of fencing.

Still surrounded by their original neighbours, Sandy said: ‘We all love the park-like setting and we all have a verbal agreement not to build any fences. Anyone with dogs has invisible fences.

The Borders have worked with a number of landscapers over the years to update their outdoor space, most recently collaborating with Michael Snowden of the Garden Center in Redmond to rebuild a water feature. The couple also does much of the planting and maintenance of the landscaping itself, and the pie-shaped yard is a natural habitat.

John said: “We appreciate our birds. We are their employees, we feed them constantly.

The Borders hired Conrad Construction Company – a team they knew well – to bring their ideas to life. Having hired the company for a 2019 renovation of the first floor of the house, they knew that Phillip Conrad would exceed their expectations.

Said Sandy, “There’s no contractor we would use other than him.”

Attention to detail is one of the main reasons the Borders turn to Conrad Construction for every project. They also have nothing but praise for the team at American & European Painting, who are experts in painting and surface work.

Of the walls in the garage and screened porch, Sandy said, “It’s an old used brick that really matches our original brick from 1991.”

“The painters actually went through and smudged dark spots on the bricks to make them not only close but also perfectly matched,” John continued.

The Borders are thrilled with the additions and are excited to welcome friends and family – including their son and daughter-in-law and one-year-old grandson – to their new screened porch this summer.

“It exceeded everything we had anticipated. Everything is going better than we thought,” John said.


Hartland Homes Tour • Sunday, June 12 • 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the Hartland Clubhouse, 4910 Hartland Pkwy., beginning at 11:45 a.m. on the day of the event.

All proceeds from the tour will benefit the family of Hartland neighbor Britt O’Brien, a Center College student who was paralyzed by a diving accident last summer.


About the O’Brien Family

(Recipients of Hartland Home Tour proceeds)

When the idea came to Camille Tucker to organize a house tour of her Hartland neighborhood, she admits that the initial impetus was somewhat self-serving: “I had wanted to do a house tour of the neighborhood, selfishly because there were houses I wanted to visit. see closely. But with a little more thought and the formation of a committee, we realized that a good cause had to be attached to the tour. Committee members quickly agreed that the family of Hartland neighbor Britt O’Brien, who was paralyzed in a diving accident last year, would be the perfect recipients of the proceeds generated by the tour.

The O’Brien family moved to the Hartland neighborhood in October 2003, parents Tim and Kristen having raised their two children, Britt, 21, and Gracie, 19, in their current home. In December 2018, the first of a series of hardships hit the family when Tim was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 47. In August 2021, Tim’s cancer was in remission and life seemed relatively normal for the family until the O’Briens received a phone call in the middle of the night that no parent ever wants to receive: their son from 21-year-old Britt was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, after nearly drowning following a diving accident while on a summer trip to Georgia with friends and Center College lacrosse teammates. Misjudging a dip in the pool at night, Britt hit her head on the bottom of the pool, instantly losing sensation in her limbs and unable to swim. A friend pulled him out of the water just when he was sure he was going to drown.

Her family were told early on that, having suffered a severe C4-C6 spinal cord injury, Britt would never be able to move anything under her chest. During a very long and frightening hospital stay, Britt underwent emergency surgery to decompress her spine, contracted a severe case of pneumonia and remained in intensive care in a medically induced coma for approximately five weeks. Britt was finally able to return home in January 2022. Center College helped pave the way for him to return to school last semester, and this summer he will return home with his family, who are currently completing renovations to their traditional Hartland home to accommodate for first floor bedroom and other accessibility needs.

Today, Britt is considered a quadriplegic but is working hard to recover as much as he can, which leaves him in need of full-time carers to help him with all the tasks of daily living. Arranging round-the-clock care has been a huge undertaking for the O’Brien family, especially with Tim who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments every two weeks to treat a recurrence of his cancer.

The family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support for the many ongoing financial needs that Britt’s injury will necessitate, including the upcoming Home Tour which is being held in their honor.

“The Hartland Tour of Homes is something that will be a wonderful celebration of how far Britt has come, as well as showing [us] this [we] are not alone and will continue to be loved and supported on [our] journey to complete the healing of Britt and Tim,” Kristen said.

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