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Home Tour: Grand Finale in Aston Oaks is the last mansion for a couple who is ready to downsize
A river view and patio that once seated 132 guests
Brent Coleman, WCPO Homes and History Contributor
4:31 AM, Apr 17, 2015
11:32 AM, Apr 14, 2017
NORTH BEND, Ohio -- Taking a tour of Bill and Polly Miller’s house in the Aston Oaks development is as much exercise as it is entertainment. The place just keeps going, going and going.
The Muirfield Drive house’s size is jaw-dropping: 14,000 square feet of living space, 17 rooms, banquet hall-size deck with an Ohio River view, 3-car garage and a walk-in closet so big you could hold a party in it.
Bill and Polly love large luxury homes. They’ve had four of them where they’ve hosted a lot of big bashes. But when they celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next month, the party won’t be held at their home.
That’s because it’s for sale for $1.85 million. So is their $2.195 million estate home in Dearborn County.
“We’re over the hill now and have to downsize,” Polly said with a wink.
The Millers call their Aston Oaks home Grand Finale, even though it was the second-to-last mansion they built.
The house sits on a ridge with an eastward view up the Ohio River and into Boone County. On a clear day, the top of the Marriott hotel in downtown Covington is visible.
It’s a view Bill Miller will miss after they sell the house and move.
“I hate to leave it for having the backyard and the river view,” Bill said. “The house itself is not the thing.”
Opulence Abounds In 13-year-old Home
Grand Finale was built on 1.35-acres over an 18-month period, and the Millers moved in in early 2002. The brick and stone house’s traditional architecture features a Monticello-like portico.
The opulence of the house starts at the semi-circular driveway and moves on to the double front door, which is flanked and topped by a towering wall of leaded-glass windows. A semi-spiral, white-spindled staircase dominates the light oak-floored foyer, and a Swarovski crystal chandelier sparkles in the center of the 20-foot ceiling.
To the immediate left is a study the Millers formerly used as Bill’s office – he founded Renaissance Investments – and now as a music room. It features a long run of built-in bookshelves that go all the way up to the ceiling.
To the right of the foyer is a formal dining room where a second Swarovski chandelier dangles from a gilded ceiling medallion. Like the parlor, the dining room has a five-piece bay window that faces the street and brings in afternoon sun. Its table can seat 16 people.
Beyond the foyer is one of two, side-by-side social living spaces in Grand Finale. Polly Miller, who does all her own decorating, furnished the larger of the two, a 24-foot by 19-foot family room, in a classic casual style to match the limestone fireplace.
Polly pointed out that all the doors leading into rooms are double wide to accommodate her large pieces of furniture, most of which she bought from a family-run operation in Moxville, N.C., once the home of Daniel Boone.
The living room, with white Victorian mantelpiece, brass-framed fireplace opening and coffered ceiling, is more formal. Molly hired Cincinnati watercolor artist Kay Worz to paint a vine of flowers that climb the mantel and run across the wall above it.
Ultra-Large Cooking and Eating Space
Much of the Millers living takes place in the kitchen and adjacent breakfast room. Together, the rooms take up 884 square feet, and they offer straight-on views of the Ohio River and forested Kentucky hills.
The porcelain-floored kitchen features two islands, the largest being 15 feet long. Two refrigerators and two dishwashers are hidden behind custom and locally crafted cabinetry. The kitchen flows into the breakfast room, which has more than enough space for a 10-person dining table.
Although Polly said she loves every room in the house, the kitchen is her favorite.
“I’m from the South (Virginia), and I like to cook,” Polly said. “Buddy LaRosa calls me Paula Deen, but he says I’m prettier than her.”
Down a short hallway off the kitchen is a powder room and laundry room. There’s even opulence here:a 4-foot by 4-foot folding island, built-in white cabinetry and a sink-and-countertop combination more typical of a kitchen.
Hidden in this part of the house is a bonus room between the breakfast room and the front of the house. Polly said future owners could make a bathroom out of it and close in the breakfast room to make a second master suite.
Back on the other side of the first floor are the existing master bedroom suite and that aforementioned huge closet. The 520-square-foot bedroom has a river view. Its bathroom features a freestanding soaking tub, shower with seat, lead-glass privacy window, pink granite countertops, dual sinks and gold-finished fixtures.
Also in the master side of the first floor is a small cubbyhole of a room that Bill now uses as his office.
“It’s my private little land. No one comes in there but me,” Bill said, who grew up in Pennsylvania and met Polly when both were working for the FBI in Washington.
Polly admitted she has always wanted it to house some of her ever-growing 300-plus pair shoe collection.
Four Bedrooms on Second Floor
There are two bathrooms and four bedrooms on the second floor of Grand Finale, the smallest of which is 19-feet by 16-feet and the largest of which is 33-feet by 18-feet. Above the bedroom floor are two attics.
Downstairs on the lowest level there’s enough space for the average family of four to live: 1,120 square feet. It’s all pretty much one big room with a stone fireplace with wrap-around stone bench acting as a divider between what is equipped to be a projector television room and a full kitchen with island.
The recreation room leads out onto the formally landscaped deck, which over the years has welcomed many a visitor.
“We’ve had 132 people seated for dinner on that patio,” Polly said. And if the weather was questionable, the Millers rented tents and carried on. If it was worse than questionable, they move indoors where as many as 100 people have been accommodated.
The size of Grand Finale could make it a tough sell, said listing agent Tom Deutsch Jr., but he said he has “cast it out worldwide,” and has talked with a number of interested buyers, including one from Asia.
This is part of the series, called Home Tour, where WCPO contributor Brent Coleman opens the front door to historic, unique, luxurious or just darned interesting homes in the Tri-State. Join him on the tour every Friday.