A Winning Combination
Writer, Amelia Jeffers
Photography by James Henthorn
When Steve and Nevada Smith decided to bid farewell to life in the city eight years ago, the driving factors in their choice of home were proximity to Columbus Academy (where their three children have attended the school as legacies) and a site that would approach the stunning natural surroundings of Nevada’s childhood in Sun Valley, Idaho - tough to find in the relatively flat landscape in central Ohio.
But their Realtor and family friend, Jane Kessler Lennox was up for the challenge. When Jane took them to a charming bank barn-inspired home on Kitzmiller Road in New Albany, the Smiths’ first objective was to check out the view.
Walking out to the edge of the back patio that overlooked deep woods and a stream, they paused and sighed. As Nevada describes, “Our stress level just melted away.” When Jane asked if they’d like to see the interior, Nevada recalls “as long as it had a kitchen and bath, we were going to be OK.”
For anyone who knows them, the Smiths’ attraction to the post and beam residence is totally appropriate. Like them, the home is a wonderful mix of rustic authenticity and stunning sophistication. From the gracious breezeway that connects the garage and loft apartment to the primary structure, to the copious windows streaming light throughout the soaring ceilings of the great room, the setting is nothing short of picturesque. Despite the organic, agrarian influence, there’s been no sacrifice of luxury. In the kitchen, rich red cabinetry by the renowned Cooley Custom Cabinetry surrounds chef’s grade appliances. Exposed yellow pine frames the central stone fireplace in the large living room with artist loft above. In the walk-out lower level, brick floors bridge relaxed living areas with adjacent bedrooms and a generous walk-in wine cellar.
The decor is fresh, comfortable, and ever-evolving. Artwork by family members hangs alongside works by acclaimed names like the late Denny Griffith. “We buy what we like,” observes Nevada. When the Smiths considered hiring an interior designer, the initial recommendation to paint the exposed yellow pine throughout the home was a nonstarter. As we sit in the family room and chat, Nevada motions to the ceiling and walls, “Can you imagine?” she asks, incredulously. Steve smiles, “That’s my urban cowgirl.”
His playful comment is a perfect snapshot of the dichotomies evident throughout the Smith family and on display in the form of paintings, sports photos, and medical degrees. In fact, the left and right brain talent combined with natural athleticism evident in this gene pool is astounding. A fourth-generation surgeon with an undergrad degree in architecture and a minor in art history from the University of Pennsylvania (where he was a star wrestler), Steve lights up when describing his family tree. His facial plastic surgery practice includes his younger brother Scott, who graduated from the University of Virginia (where he was also a wrestler) with degrees in Studio Art and Biology. Then there’s the great-grandfather who succumbed to the 1918 flu pandemic while serving as an army surgeon in France; the grandfather who was a standout football player and went on to study zoology before becoming an accomplished pediatric urologist; and Steve’s father who also became a respected pediatric urologist (the Smith pediatric urologists helped to found the department at Nationwide Children’s hospital). Other family members are distinguished artists in various fields from performing to visual arts; the list goes on and on.
Nevada’s family is no less impressive. She was a competitive ski racer and successful high school tennis player; her dad was a well-known men's clothier in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Her mother and uncle both attended high school at The Juilliard School of performing arts in New York.
With lives full from running a successful medical practice and raising three strong young women, the Smiths never miss a chance to balance their hectic schedules with a healthy dose of grass, sun, and fresh air - whether out back of their home in Ohio or on the slopes of Idaho. The focus on recharging is a wise and strategic one for a family culture aptly reflected by the Mike Ditka quote casually penned and posted with some prominence. “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” For this driven and talented tribe, winning is all about perspective and heart.