Modern Masterpiece
Is this urban fantasy really in Lexington? On Limestone?

Don't kill the messenger, but you don't live in the coolest apartment in Lexington.

That title currently goes to Salina Ramsay's digs on the corner of Mechanic and Limestone. (If you're convinced otherwise, you can email contenders.)

Instead of finding an apartment at the given address, there's a small sign in the front window that reads The Salina Ramsay Gallery.

So which is it? A gallery or an apartment. Thanks to contractor Barry McNees, it's both. Ramsay, an artist specializing in horse-related themes, was in need of: a place to sleep and a place to paint. And during this time of year, that's about all she has time for. With Keeneland's spring meet kicking off, her equine-themed work is hot property right now.

But when Ramsay first considered the space, the gallery was nonexistent. In fact, in its former life, it was a garage. So McNees and Ramsay brainstormed some ideas andthe garage morphed into a small, but quaint gallery. On the ceiling is a plastered soffit hiding the garage door that comes out at night as an additional security option. While the glass doors curtain the gallery by day, the garage door rolls down to squelch any temptations by vandals-in-waiting.

The noise from the pedestrian and automotive traffic on Limestone only energizes Ramsay, a self-professed people person who enjoys the sounds of the city while practicing her art.

With an unassuming facade, it's easy to keep expectations low for the recent grand tour. The gallery space is inviting, nice lighting to blanket the collection of paintings. But from what McNees and Ramsay said, the apartment was the piece de resistance.

OK, seeing is believing.

Just to the right of the gallery, Ramsay opens the door leading into the foyer of her apartment. Her three-story, "I can't believe this is an apartment in Lexington" apartment. (The photographer who shot the space began his next email with, "Holy crap!" clearly indicating he'd just returned from Ramsay's space.)

It's the apartment's overwhelming style that elicits those kinds of responses. Even Ramsay is still overcome by its character. "I wake up feeling blessed every day," she said. " I still pinch myself and say 'thank you God.'" How many people can say that about where they live.

Built in 1983 as a single-family dwelling, the apartment today is the poster child of contemporary style. As you walk up the carpeted stairway from the foyer, it's like the pep rally before the big game. It gets you excited to see what lies ahead, and you aren't disappointed when you reach the top.

The opening to the main living space is grand-a vast, warm space with a large blank wall on one side and a stone-laden wall on the other. To your left is the kitchen, with its large wrap-around countertop, perfect for entertaining.

Because it's one giant room, there are no feng shui faux pas. The kitchen melds into the living room, which in turn opens up right into the backyard atrium. Now this is a little piece of paradise for Ramsay and her neighbors across the way. The solar panels above the garden are broken, but Ramsay isn't upset. "You should see how beautiful it is when it snows in here," she said.

The wooden deck gives her and her dog Poppy a place to enjoy the outdoors in peace. In fact, it's so peaceful that Ramsay even considers this as her final resting place. RIP indeed.

One of the most intriguing rooms in the apartment has to be the "all about me" bathroom. It's not a large space, in fact it only houses a loo and a sink. But for those in need of an ego boost or if you're simply just vain, the mirrored walls give you hundreds of views to look at yourself from every angle.

The master bath is the one that will elicit pangs of envy. The sexy stone-tiled shower is large enough forwell, whatever your imagination can come up with. And off to the left awaits a large sunken Jacuzzi that just screams for bubbles.

The best place to take in the grandeur of this apartment is up the winding metal staircase to the third floor. It's a small room, one that Ramsay uses for additional work space thanks to the eastern exposure lighting, but it overlooks the entire second floor from one side and out to Limestone from the other.

Though the space looks deceptively small from the outside, it certainly makes up for it once you get inside.

Its style has won Ramsay, a former Victorian aficionado, over. "I wouldn't have pictured me in a contemporary house," she said, "but I plan to stay here forever." Bad news for those who have their sights set on this place.

Julie Wilson is the editor of Pulse Magazine. Her column will rotate regularly on Ace's real estate page with Walter Jowers' Helter Shelter. If you have a fascinating residential or commercial space for Julie to profile (as long as it is not on the market), email her at