For six years, Paula DeBoor, Kathy Thompson and other volunteers involved in 23 previous Designer Showcases, were asked when they were going to host another one.
The answer was always the same: “When we find the right house.”
The stars aligned in mid-May. A house they had inquired about—3330 Versailles Road, across from Calumet Farm— had new owners: John “Wick” Faust and Robert Easley Jr.
The lifelong friends and business partners jumped at the opportunity to let several designers have their way with the 5,200-square-foot Colonial.
The purpose? To raise awareness and financial support for the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency mission: improving the quality of care for 5,500 residents of nursing home and long-term care facilities in Central Kentucky. With only four months to plan and organize the event (normal lead time is 8-12 months), Designer Showcase 2018 is set to open for a 17-day run September 21-October 7.
“We see it as an opportunity to help a Lexington-based non-profit that a lot of people don’t know about,” Faust explains. “We also liked the idea of letting the public see the ‘other’ Clay house — the one built by a grandson of Henry Clay, Charles Donald Clay, in 1902. Thousands of people drive by the entrance every day, but few have been inside the gates to see an important piece of Lexington history.”
Charles Clay and his wife Mariah Pepper Clay built the original, much smaller structure in 1902 while Charles was still away serving in the military. The couple lived there until Charles’ death in 1935. Mariah sold the residence, which was known as the “White House,” to a man from Cincinnati shortly after her husband’s passing.
Their family’s life on what eventually became part of Calumet Farm is described in Cautious Rebel: A Biography of Susan Clay Sawitzky by Clay family expert, Dr. Lindsay Apple of Georgetown. Dr. Apple will present more information about the house and its historical significance at a Designer Showcase Lunch and Learn on Wednesday, September 26.
Worth the Wait
When they saw the house for the first time at Room Selection Night in mid-June, Showcase designers were impressed by the home’s potential. Within two weeks, every room and space was assigned and most had been measured by designers eager to get going on the project.
“The place was electric,” said Showcase design coordinator Dwayne Anderson of house by JSD Designs, recalling the atmosphere on Room Selection Night. “It’s a wonderful house. I could sense the excitement of the designers as they walked around trying to decide which rooms to put on their list of preferences. I knew right then that we had a winner.”
As design coordinator, Anderson got to choose the home’s color palette. He selected a floral design he used on another job.
“It looks like Kentucky. It looks like Lexington. Classic and beautiful. Bottom line -- it’s southern, and that’s what this house is.”
Although blue is the anchor color, there are 17 less prominent hues in the fabric that complement it. “Designers can interpret it in many different ways,” Anderson said. “One designer blew right past blue. She saw soft green and buttery yellow and went straight to that.”
Anderson was mildly surprised when longtime showcaser Carolyn Threlkeld of Hubbuch & Co. texted a photo of the color for the walls in the sun room. “It’s a beautiful, unexpected interpretation,” Anderson said. “I would never have thought of it.”
Every room will have at least one “wow” factor that guests will be photographing and talking about, he predicted. The mix of designers practically guarantees it. “We have a wide range of ages and years in the design business with this group,” he said. New faces include Benjamin Deaton Design, Arhaus, Pottery Barn, Market on National, and Metamorphosis Studios, all of Lexington, and Design Theory by Kristy Anderson of Danville, who participated in the 2012 showcase at Highland Hall as a designer for Interior Yardage.
Of the returning favorites are Debra Hupman of Creative Kitchen & Bath and Sue Ann Truitt of L.V. Harkness, both of whom have a personal desire to help people in nursing homes.
“Our parents were residents of Wesley Village for 5 years. Often someone from the agency would stop by just to say hello. It meant a lot to our parents and to our family,” Truitt said. “I’ve been participating since we did the Meadowthorpe Mansion in 1989. I never dreamed how personal the work of the agency would become.”
Ditto for Hupman. “My parents were in long-term care for almost two years before they passed. They were in the same room. It was so sweet,” Hupman recalled. “We were there almost every day to check on them, but there were lots of residents who never had a single visitor other than the ombudsman who served that facility. It was their only outside connection. The ombudsmen do a wonderful job.”
Hupman’s participation dates back to the renovation of the Firebrook Mansion in 1991. “It was the opportunity to lend whatever I could to a great cause. It’s actually how I got to know a lot of designers in town. It’s been a win-win for me and for NHOA ever since,” she said.
For the first time, Hupman has a co-designer for the kitchen, Jennifer Higgins of Metamorphosis Studios. “I’ve done the design and the cabinetry, and Jennifer is adding the furniture and the finishing touches,” Hupman said. This includes a custom range hood. “It’s a showstopper,” she added.
The kitchen presented several challenges because of its size and layout. “We played around with a lot of different ideas,” she explained. “We ended up adding an island and putting in a beverage station, along with some other things. We tried to keep it clean and classic with a modern twist and a few traditional elements.”
Not only did she stay within the original footprint, she also stayed within the budget Faust and Easley gave her. “We were under the gun from day one,” Easley said. “We had less than three months from design to installation, but Debra pulled it off. She created a gorgeous kitchen with almost every amenity a person could ask for.”
“For most buyers, the kitchen is the most important room in the house, so it was critical to have a creative, practical design that would have broad appeal,” Faust continued. “Debra nailed it. I’m not going to say exactly how she nailed it. You’ll have to come and see that for yourself.”
The centerpiece of a 16-acre residential development called The Silks of Lexington, the Showcase house is slated to go on the market Sept. 21, the day Designer Showcase 2018 opens. Three of the 13 building lots arranged in a horseshoe around it have sold. Faust and Easley are hopeful the event will get the word out about the gated community.
Canopy of Mature Trees Sets the Property Apart
With its canopy of mature trees and working fountains, the 16-acre setting offers a peaceful, serene escape. At the same time, it’s less than a mile from Blue Grass Field and Keeneland and a short drive to shopping and restaurants in Palomar Centre and Beaumont Centre.
“The first time I drove through here, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The trees alone are worth coming to see,” Faust said. Local lore has it that 50 or 60 years ago, the property owner and the owner of Hillenmeyer Nursery drew up a design to plant about 75 trees on the 16-acre side. They traveled around the U.S. and Canada gathering saplings that weren’t available locally at the time. Decades later, it’s clear they knew what they were doing.
Landscape designer Troy Lyons agrees. “Trees can and should be treated as one of nature’s highest art forms,” he said. Participating in the Showcase for the first time, the owner of Landmark Landscaping works primarily in the commercial market but was attracted to the cause and wanted to help. “The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency is a charity that, while not glamorous, is hugely essential, especially given our aging demographic,” he said.
One of four landscape designers lending their talents, Lyons will create his own showstopper in a grove of trees that connects the house to the pool house and carriage house. “We will transform this area into a sophisticated, yet organic transition zone, offering respite from a hot pool deck and the chaos of the day. Where better to partake in a glass of sweet tea than on a French country patio? Without giving away too much, we hope Showcase visitors will experience a little touch of the French countryside when they visit.”
The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc. (NHOA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to making life better for 5,500 residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in 17 counties in Central Kentucky. It is the only organization doing this work.
To make a tax-deductible gift, mail checks payable to NHOA to 3138 Custer Dr., Suite 110, Lexington, 40517 or make a gift online at ombuddy.org.
Interested in being a Designer Showcase 2018 sponsor? Please contact [email protected] or 859-277-9215. Sponsorships may be fulfilled over the next 10 months or by June 30, 2019.
Participating Designers for the 2018 Showcase
Benjamin Deaton Design
Cabinets and Design
Creative Kitchen and Bath
Design Theory by Kristy Anderson
Distinctive Faux Artistry
house by JSD Designs
Hubbuch & Co.
Ivy Downs Interiors
Liberty Hill Antiques
Liz Douglas Designs
Market on National
Mike Justice Landscaping
Dates to Know
Designer Showcase 2018 is open for tours September 21st through October 7th, Monday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm and Sunday, 1-5pm and during the following Special Events, which are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted:
September 20 | 6-9pm
Be one of the first to tour the “White House” after its dramatic makeover! Admission to the poolside preview party is $60 per person. Make checks payable to NHOA and mail to 3138 Custer Dr., Lexington, 40517 or purchase online at www.ombuddy.org.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon Tasting*
Tastings at 1:15pm, 2pm and 2:45pm
$40.00/person includes home tour, apps by DaRae and Dean Phelps on the guitar. Reservations at www.ombuddy.org or
*Limit 20 people per session
Craft Beer, Food and Live Music
September 25 | 5-8pm
Bring your family and friends!
Lunch & Learn
September 26 | 12:30-1:30pm
Learn from Dr. Lindsey Apple, author and expert on the “White House”. Lunch available from Bell on Wheels food truck.
Wine and Design
September 27 | 5-8pm
$25/person includes Showcase House tour, wine and appetizers in the Carriage House as well as a pick the designers’ brains session.
September 30 | 1-4pm
Enjoy a demonstration by Alyssa Erickson, Industrial Hemp Entrepreneur.
October 1 | House tours 5-8pm
Girls (and Guys) Night Out!
Lunch & Learn
October 3 | 12:30-1:30pm
Fall Gardening with gardening expert Karen Angelucci. Lunch available from Bell on Wheels food truck 11am-2pm.
Top 10 Things You Should Know About Nursing Homes
October 7 | 2-3pm
Presented by Sherry Culp, Kentucky State Long Term Care Ombudsman.