Cultivating character

A Cincinnati-area homeowner builds a vacation-style home design


Two long tables, four long benches and eight bar stools seat up to 22 people in the mill house’s charming kitchen.

A cherished Bible from Shellie’s great, great grandparents’ wedding day, Christmas 1894, sits next to the bed in the mill house’s guest room.



On the second floor of this mill house, a guest bath carries through with the rustic theme found throughout the rest of the structure.

This copper roof was created in Nevada by the Metal Roof Network and shipped to Ohio. Owner Chris Testa came to Batavia and trained the roofing company on installation.

Jerry, the homeowner, built the contraption of gears, belts and pulleys used to power the water wheel that is located on the other side of the wall. “Jerry’s pretty magical,” Shellie says.



Iron gates bearing the homeowners’ initial open to welcome guests to this vast country playground.

Shoe forms frame an oval mirror in this rustic guest bath. Charming pops of green can be seen throughout the space.

Jerry’s habit of sharing frequent treats from the candy counter with granddaughter, Vada, has earned him the nickname “Sugar.”

The sound of water rushing over the rocks near this mill house adds another incredible element to this multi-sensory experience.

One section of the second floor in this mill house plays host to Shellie’s collection of antique sewing machines and sewing-related collectibles.

Water traveling across this yard from the tank through the elevated line dumps into the pond from this trough.

Bourbon barrels adorn the entrances to the garages including on the ground and on a makeshift awning for the garage spaces.

In an elevated railroad bridge style, water flows from a tank near the driveway to the large pond near the front of the property.



Family members serve snacks from inside this popcorn cart. A candy counter is just across the room in case somebody wants a little something sweeter.

A second entrance to this property features a covered bridge that was inspired by nearby bridges that the homeowners love.

These bourbon barrels were added to the design as an afterthought; the homeowner thought that the garage looked too plain without them.



Shellie, the homeowner, spins wool she has cut and washed from the sheep grazing in a pasture behind the home. The center wheel has a clean, white yarn that was harvested from “Lacy.”

Although this home is filled with countless treasures and antiques, this 120-year-old family Bible is a prized possession.

These homeowners came across this collar display by chance after Shellie had been looking for one since she was a teenager.



A deck near the pond provides a perfect spot for relaxing, whether you prefer sitting on one of the benches or dangling your toes in the water.

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