Tour Betsy and Rich AuBuchon’s artful mid-century bluff-top estate.
“Sometimes I wish the previous homeowners had left an instruction manual,” says Betsy AuBuchon. While this may not seem like a plus when purchasing a new home, Betsy, her husband, Rich, and their four children see it as an adventure.
This gorgeous home (and inground pool) on a cliff overlooking the capitol was originally built in the early 1990s by Supreme Court Judge Elwood Thomas as a modest ranch. 20 years ago, two local physicians bought the property and spent about four years creating this unique home with an architect out of Atlanta and Turk’s Construction in Jefferson City.
About a year ago, Rich surprised Betsy by taking her to an open house for what would be their future home. Though the house was completely empty, the couple saw incredible potential in the artistic details throughout the home. They purchased the house and 15 of the 700 acres of land surrounding it.
This labyrinthine structure includes two floors with a multitude of rooms hidden by (mostly) sliding pocket doors. The main floor includes the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms, and the “staircase to nowhere.”
The cutouts on the staircase were designed by the previous homeowner. Because they were both doctors (and the husband was a spinal physician), the cutouts are meant to be reminiscent of the sacrum. These unique and intricate details extend to the pocket doors and removable panels separating the kitchen and dining rooms.
The only structural changes made by the AuBuchons were to make the staircases safer, by adding the stainless-steel bars, and a few small alterations to the kitchen, opening up and extending the space to function better for the family of six.
“They had a good sense of what is timeless,” says Betsy. From the birch wood to the subtle Eastern influences (such as the front panel of windows, outdoor lanterns, and curved walls), the home appears modern despite its age.
Downstairs, you’ll find the playrooms for the kids and Rich. Rich’s “man cave” is affectionately known as the “Booze, Bullets, and Birds Room,” named after three of Rich’s favorite things. The room was designed by the previous owner and was inspired by his alma mater, Yale University. Some of the bricks of the walls came from Yale, and one of the walls was built specifically to hold a window taken from a Yale building (the window was taken with the previous owners when they moved).
In both living rooms (upstairs and down), much of the room is dominated by built-in bookshelves and pieces of art collected by Betsy.
“I struggle to find art I like,” she says. “But once I do like it, I really like it. I just pick stuff up that I really like. Some of it may be new, some of it may be from Target, some of it may be vintage. I have this theory that if I buy it and I love it, I’ll find a spot for it.”
They’ve also sought to experiment with their new spaces. “The scale has been fun to play with,” Betsy says. “You really have to play around. Like in the dining room — what do you do to fill up the volume of the ceiling? I ended up buying the three big fixtures. I laugh because I have to buy tchotchkes everywhere. The main goal has been to really warm up the place.”
One specific way Betsy has accomplished this is through her mix-matched furniture and collection of blue and white porcelain vases, adding another layer to the Eastern influences throughout the home. “I started collecting pieces a few years ago,” says Betsy. “It’s a nice way to inexpensively have a collection of something that looks really cool together.”
Betsy has a keen eye for texture and depth, which is evident in her use of the bookshelves. While some of the shelves do, in fact, hold books (including a couple original copies of Gone with the Wind, Betsy’s absolute favorite) and other knick-knacks, others are covered by pieces of art.
This is a home that is full of surprises, some that even the AuBuchons are still discovering. From stone benches and a totem pole hidden in the gardens to artistic details on the doors throughout the home to a waterfall hidden by bamboo on the side of the pool, there’s always something new to discover.