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See what happens when 25 local designers take over a spacious, historic Clay home

The John Clay House sits at the center of the Silks development which features 13 lots in a gated community across Versailles Road from Calumet Farm. It is the location of this year’s Designer Showcase.
The John Clay House sits at the center of the Silks development which features 13 lots in a gated community across Versailles Road from Calumet Farm. It is the location of this year’s Designer Showcase. rgarrison@herald-leader.com

A team of 25 Central Kentucky’s designers are transforming the Versailles Road house once owned by Charles Donald Clay, a grandson of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay for Designer Showcase 2018.

The 1.6 acre estate at 3330 Versailles Road will be open for tours and special events Sept. 21-Oct. 7, according to design coordinator Dwayne Anderson of House by JSD Design.

“It’s the first showcase in six years, and there’s a lot of excitement,” said Anderson.

This year’s event is the 24th showcase since the non-profit Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass (NHOA) and its forerunner, the Women’s Neighborly Organization, started the event as a fundraiser in 1976.

Interior and landscape designers are working on their plans for various rooms and spaces in and around the two-story, 5,200-square-foot Colonial, Anderson said.

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Event co-chair Kathy Thompson lends a hand to paint the back stairway. Susie D. Hillard

Clay, a grandson of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, built the original structure around the turn of the 20th century on what was then a horse farm. It was called the “White House.”

He and wife Mariah Pepper Clay, a descendant of the founder of The Pepper Distillery, lived there until their deaths. The house and land used to be part of what is now Calumet Farm.

Although subsequent owners enlarged and updated the residence, they retained some of its original elements, according to owners Robert Easley Jr. and John “Wick” Faust of Lexington.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Easley explained. “This is a house that played a key role in Lexington’s history, yet it also has all the modern conveniences today’s families want,” Easley explained.

Anderson has made a concerted effort to bring in up-and-coming designers to complement popular Showcase veterans, he said.

“Visitors will appreciate the different styles and ideas that will be on display,” he predicted. “It’s magical to watch everything come together.”

Designer Showcase 2018 benefits 5,500 residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Central Kentucky. NHOA employs a team of 25 Ombudsmen to fulfill its mission of improving the quality of care for residents of nursing homes and other long-term facilities.

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Jennifer Higgins of Lexington applies paint to a buffet that will be used in the kitchen of the Designer Showcase. Higgins and Debra Hupman of Creative Kitchen & Bath are co-designers of the kitchen. Susie D. Hillard

Ombudsmen visit residents and identify, investigate, and resolve problems and complaints at no charge to residents or their families.

In addition to tours of the house, which take place from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, there are special events throughout Designer Showcase’s 17-day run. For example, there will be supper at the “White House” from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 25 where diners can pull up a chair in the outdoor cafe and eat Talley’s BBQ, Mirror Twin Brewery craft beer and Rolling Oven pizza and listen to live music. Visitors have the option of touring the home but it isn’t required..

Then, from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 27 there’s a event titled Wine+ Design Pick the Designers’ Brains, where you can meet the house designers and ask questions. And, from 5-8 p.m., Oct. 1 you can stop by and see the grounds at night, all lit up.

Tours of the showcase house are $25/person, $5 under 12, and free for child in arms.

A schedule is posted at www.ombuddy.org

The Silks development on Versailles Road includes 13 luxury lots, trees that may be centuries old, elaborate fountains and a historic house that the Kentucky Historical Society has dubbed the "John Clay House."

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