Symphony Designers’ Showhouse Preview

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The 48th Annual Showhouse Is Sure to Give Downton Abbey a Run For Its Money.

This charming residence dates back to 1908 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes in Hyde Park.

Story by Ann Butenas

Typically, when you move into a new home, you cannot wait until all of your furnishings and things are unpacked and you can invite friends and family over for a visit before settling in and adjusting to your new abode. For Abby and Casey Ventrillo, however, within three months of moving into their new home, one which is now fondly named Downtown Abby, on June 22, 2016, they were politely asked to move out and requested they stay out for about nine months. The reason? So the whole city could come see their amazing home.

Well, to be clear, the home, located at 816 Gleed Terrace in the historic central Hyde Park area of Kansas City, Missouri, is the 2017 Symphony Designers’ Showhouse. A 48-year tradition in Kansas City, sponsored by the Kansas City Symphony Alliance that supports the Kansas City Symphony, this event brings premier designers together to showcase their talents as they turn grand houses into an award-winning show homes that frequently attract up to 10,000 visitors, all eager to catch the latest in design trends, as well as meet with the designers.

Upon first glance, it is easy to see why this home is on the radar and could easily upstage Downton Abbey. However, it took a bit of effort to get the wheels in motion to get to this point. The residence had actually been on the market for quite some time, but when Abby and Casey stumbled upon it, they instinctively knew this was the place for them.

“We both love older homes,” expressed Abby, indicating the couple formerly resided in an airplane bungalow in the fashionable Brookside area. From there, they decided to build a new home in Parkville, but it wasn’t long before they realized they truly missed the midtown lifestyle and old home charm and features.

“About five years ago, we began looking for another home, but we were quite particular, so we were not necessarily in a huge rush,” noted Casey. It wasn’t until March of 2016 when their search came to nearly a screeching halt. “We had heard of an estate sale at this old home in central Hyde Park and saw the sign in the yard. The next day, we went to the open house and immediately put in an offer on the home.”

When Casey and Abby bought the home, Casey’s mom was walking through it one day and casually noted, “This is actually kind of a show house.” Casey initially dismissed those thoughts, as he was more focused on tackling some remodeling projects within the home. The home did require a bit of updating. It was obviously well-cared for, but some of the interior features needed to be restored. After all, it has been in existence for nearly 109 years, and with 5,622 square feet of living space, including three floors, a basement, seven bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, there is a lot of ground to cover.

“The previous owners lived here for about 40 years,” noted Casey, who estimated that he and his wife are probably the sixth or seventh owners of the home. “The home inspector actually told us that this place is a fortress, with its thick stone walls and at least four steel beams that run through the home.”

While Casey and Abby were preparing to get the home in order for themselves, Casey’s mom was still busy with that idea of hers. She spoke with her neighbor who had a connection to the symphony and before the “Welcome” mat could be strategically placed just outside the front door, Patty Bibler, the 2017 Symphony Designers’ Showhouse Chair, approached Casey and Abby, advising them, “Don’t unpack too much, as you might have to move out soon.”

With so much to absorb and take in, this home is a veritable museum of style, class and grace, and it is so obvious why it stands as this year’s Showhouse. Its rugged natural stone exterior that has easily withstood the test of time enjoys a cozy wrap-around porch that overlooks the adjacent park. As you are greeted by the 34’ x 11’ foyer at the front of the home, you will notice vast amounts of mahogany and oak woodwork and moldings, all partnering well with leaded glass windows, various pocket doors, a set of front and back stairs, expansive linen closets, French doors, and even built-in china cabinets.

On the second floor are five bedrooms and a 19’ x 9’ screened porch. There is an additional over-sized room that is perfect for entertaining, as well as three additional rooms that could also double as offices. The home boasts five fireplaces, the original radiators, all original wood flooring, original bathroom sinks with separate faucets for hot and cold, and a detached two-car garage with nearly nine-foot tall original doors. The third floor has much to offer, too.

“That is our recreation room,” noted Casey. “It also has an office and a guest bedroom.”

The basement appears to have been finished at one time and perhaps used as a full apartment, as it has remnants of a bathroom, a stone fireplace and a mural leading down the stairs, created in 1925 by Larry Richmond, a student of the Kansas City Art Institute.

The biggest focus in terms of renovation has been the kitchen. Not only was it tiny, it was also stuck in the past. In fact, it only had one drawer, bearing evidence that the kitchen might have, at one time, been used by four families at once and perhaps explains why it appeared cut into sections.

What attracted the Ventrillos most to this home, however, rests in its longevity.

“The benefits of an older home include gracious sized rooms and huge windows that provide great natural light,” indicated Abby. Casey remarked on the inherent artistic beauty, too, within the home.

“The woodwork and the craftsmanship is amazing,” he said. “Even each of the fireplaces has different elements yet they all flow together.”

As the Showhouse welcomes guests, it will provide more than 30 spaces for area designers to showcase their craft and Abby and Casey are thrilled to be a part of it.

“This is a great cause to help raise money for the symphony,” expressed Casey. “It’s also a great opportunity for up and coming designers to show their talents.”

When the couple can finally move back into their beloved home in their new neighborhood, they each have one destination in mind.

“I want to get to that kitchen,” beamed Abby, referring to what will operate as her new gourmet kitchen, providing her a 48” gas range, three ovens, steam oven and butler’s pantry. “I have been taking classes at the culinary center and am eager to get to work in my new kitchen.”

Casey’s first order of business, however, is to simply unpack, sit on the porch and drink a glass of wine.

However, something tells us that folks will always come knocking on their door, as this place truly is a welcome destination for family and friends alike.

“We are going to struggle to have weekends alone, I think!” smiled Abby.


April 22 – May 14, 2017

816 Gleed Terrace, Kansas City, MO

To purchase tickets online, visit

Look for the complete digital edition of the official Showhouse program with “after” photos on starting April 18th.

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