What was your inspiration for your kitchen?
I love timeless kitchens. It’s like Jackie Kennedy— I never get tired of her look. We came from Brookside before we lived here; it was the most gorgeous, simple colonial. But that house taught me to let the structure guide me in design. Colonial styles like a classic vibe and when we found this Cape Cod colonial in Leawood, I was smitten. Well, I was 8 months pregnant and we had lots of renovations to do, so I wouldn’t say “smitten” with the timeline.
WHAT WAS IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN PICKING THE STYLE AND DESIGN ELEMENTS YOU CHOSE?
We kept the same layout and cabinets, island and countertops because they were great quality. So, some of it was just what I had to work with. I prefer marble or butcher block for countertops but black granite is pretty classic and “free.99” fit into the budget. So, the rest would need to be white, woods and mixed metals. If I was ever out making a design decision, I would make sure they fit into those categories. I had some fun with the light fixtures—they could be considered more modern but, if I hate them in a couple years, they were inexpensive. It’s OK to not get too stuck on things that can be changed out easily.
HOW DID YOU INTEGRATE FUNCTIONALITY AND BEAUTY IN YOUR HOME?
This is huge for me. I have four children, and I work from home. I am also a self-professed hermit. I really like to live in my home! So we actually jump on the beds here. We don’t take our shoes off when we get inside and the dogs and children have ruined more furniture that you can believe. So everything in the house, with a few exceptions like the rugs or art, are inexpensive or recoverable. I like to buy a couple solid furniture pieces and then mix in things from Target or a flea market.
If it’s in this house, it has a job. Sometimes it takes me a year to figure out what a corner needs, but again, the house and family tells you what it needs. For instance, my kids started piling shoes right at the entrance of the garage door. After a year of that, I was over it. I made a functional shoe closet just steps away that was otherwise a junk catchall with no purpose. I can close the door and not have to see the clutter. In my opinion, I think it’s a shame when people don’t live in the house before they remodel it. There’s so much value in knowing what your family needs and making that happen so that the family can function with less chaos. Life is already so messy … at least we know where the shoes are.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM AND WHY?
I think it’s the kitchen and living area. Probably because we host so much and that’s where everyone hangs. But we also do so much life at the kitchen island: homework, meals, hard conversations. That hub has seen and heard so much.
The side porch is a magnificent space addition. We keep the door open in the spring and fall and everyone wanders in and out. This main space also just makes me happy visually. I know people are afraid of white walls, but they make my brain really calm. And guys, it’s just paint! It’s an easy fix. Sometimes I think we take our decisions too seriously. I promise you, you will live through design mistakes. I’ve made a million for sure.
I also do spend a ton of time in my bedroom though. My office is adjacent to the master so that too needs to be a pretty calming area. I’ve made the mistake of finishing the master bedroom last and it’s not good for anything. I take better naps in a pretty room, I swear. (Totally tongue in cheek.) But I will say that it is more restful when you make it a place you want to come rest in the first place.
ANY ADVICE TO READERS WHO ARE WANTING TO REDECORATE OR INVEST IN A FIXER-UPPER?
I’m no designer, but I think I would say: Find things that you love in magazines or on Pinterest or that you’ve seen. Are there three or four elements you love? When you’re making design decisions, let those guide you. It has to be W, X, Y and maybe a few pops of Z. You’ll be surprised at how what you collected plays nicely together in a room. And you’re able to make better budget decisions if you collect over a couple of months as opposed to needing to get something done right then with limited options and no sales.
Lastly, give it time. Good design is collected over space and time and curated over and over again until it’s just right. We often look at a picture and think “how did they do that?” It’s probably years and years of fiddling! Maybe not in that home, but somewhere in other projects. It takes practice just like any skill.