When Casey and Abby Ventrillo purchased a three-story home in the Hyde Park Historic District, they knew they were getting a project. The couple had lived in a Brookside bungalow, so they knew some of the challenges of living in an older home. They also had lived in a new house in Parkville.
The Kansas City natives saw the stone colonial revival-style house at 816 Gleed Terrace as the fulfillment of a long-term dream. “Long-term” was the operative word.
“We thought this would be a lifetime project, one project at a time,” Casey said.
Enter mom with an idea.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“My mother walked through the house and said, ‘You know, that’s a Showhouse. I’ve seen these over the years, and this would make a great one,’ ” Casey said.
Connections were made. The Ventrillos, who had just moved into their house in June 2016, moved out again in September to make way for designers, carpenters, painters and dreamers to fast-forward their project schedule to the present.
The results are available for viewing during the 48th annual Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, April 22-May 14.
“It’s been really exciting to know that I’m 20 years ahead of schedule and by people that have great vision and are way more talented at some of this stuff than I am,” Casey said.
The vision was to keep or restore much of the original beauty of the 1908 stone home with a wraparound porch and original tile roof. Designers have added modern touches but kept the original natural woodwork, hardwood floors and leaded glass entryway that give the home its character.
The kitchen is new but maintains a feel for the original era. Midwest Design & Remodel removed five walls and re-created the original footprint of a butler’s pantry between the kitchen and dining room. Patricia Bibler, Designers’ Showhouse vice president, says the renovation of the kitchen is a centerpiece for this year’s house.
“When they bought the house, it had been made into a chopped-up kitchen with a breakfast area and chopped-up pantry,” Bibler said.
The new, graciously sized kitchen has light quartz countertops and a large island for cooking and entertaining. The homeowner took classes to become a chef.
“We entertain all the time. That’s why we bought this house. So I figured if I’m going to have a chef’s kitchen, I should probably be one,” Abby said.
The custom cabinets more than make up for the former deficit in the house, which had only one drawer in the kitchen. A subway tile backsplash behind the stove ties to the original subway tile in the upstairs bathrooms, which the homeowners decided to keep.
When the Ventrillos purchased the house, it was clear it originally had a butler’s pantry. They decided to put it back and turn it into a walk-through party/bar area. Finishes in this space are modern, with a sparkly gray ceiling that looks almost like stainless steel from below and a funky, modern, iridescent tile on the backsplash.
Unique appliances, including a Dacor wine dispenser that keeps wine on tap for up to 60 days at the perfect temperature and a sink that produces its own sparkling water, will help guests easily access their own “butler” services at parties.
The mix of modern touches in a traditional setting is evident throughout this year’s design work. Italian Plaster Works replaced the tile in the front vestibule with a black-and-white basket-weave design and a faux marble wall covering that complement the original leaded glass windows. Madi Mali Homes added trim work in the grand hallway, and Woodson Antiques and Interiors installed wood panels in the dining room. The first floor fireplaces have new tile, but it is designed to look original.
Designer Kitty Sondern Snyder, of K Is for Kitty, was inspired by the Asian-sounding name the Showhouse committee gave a third floor room: “Mrs. HO’s (as in homeowner’s) Office.” Snyder has used a mix of vintage modern pieces and new artwork to put together an Asian-themed room overlooking Hyde Park. Snyder calls her midcentury-modern-meets-Asian creation a comfortable getaway space. She chose a cheery goldenrod color for the wall, which keeps it bright.
“They wanted everything muted, but I guess I kind of ignored that, and they like it,” Snyder said.
Snyder was also responsible for one of two doggie spaces in the home for the homeowners’ two schnauzers.
Snyder included green shag carpet and a blue ceiling and walls to make the pets feel like they are playing outside. The closet area has a built-in bureau, the bottom drawer of which has become a pet princess bed. While this is the first time Snyder has created a pet space for the Designers’ Showhouse, it is not the first time clients have requested consideration for their furry friends.
“Everybody has pets. … In this case, the pets are so far their children, so they are important to them. So, when the homeowners are hanging out, watching TV, the pets can come in here and chill out,” Snyder said.
Snyder is one of 45 designers from 20 design firms and retailers bringing their creative ideas to 28 areas of the house. Each year the designers bid on and put together ideas for the spaces and make suggestions that are approved by the Showhouse committee. The designers volunteer their time and materials.
Fewer local design firms have been putting in bids in recent years, so retailers like Pottery Barn, Ikea and West Elm have stepped up to decorate several of the spaces.
“I think some of the top designers in town don’t have showrooms, they don’t have furniture and stuff available, so they have to order it, and sometimes our time frame isn’t long enough for them to do it. And the retailers have furnishings on hand.” Bibler said.
While all of the custom work and permanent items stay, the Ventrillos will have to buy the furnishings, light fixtures and accessories if they want to keep them.
The Designers’ Showhouse aims to raise $80,000 to $100,000 each year for Kansas City Symphony programming, including youth and educational events.
The homeowners are happy the renovation of their house gives them an opportunity to give back to the community. They are also pleased with the design results.
“I love the elegance,” Abby said. “That’s what drew us to this home … but I also want it to be comfortable. I want it to be warm and inviting, and they captured that.”
Symphony Designers’ Showhouse
Location: 816 Gleed Terrace, in the Hyde Park neighborhood
Dates: April 22-May 14
Times: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; closed Monday.
Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
For a list of places for advance ticket sales, go to Showhouse.org