A Refined Cottage

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From a potential remodel to a complete tear-down, this young growing family decided to create their own roots for a home that will withstand the test of time.

Story by Ann Butenas     |     Photography by Josh Mais

Michael and Jacque Gary immediately fell in love with the old character and the established trees of the Prairie Village ranch home they purchased nearly a decade ago. When they found their forever home, they had no intention of ever tearing it down. Instead, they eventually planned to just remodel it to fit their needs as their family grew. However, their home had other plans in store for them.

“When we first got into the remodeling conversation, we spoke with Rick Jones at NSPJ Architects,” recalled Michael. “We quickly realized there was a lot of work to be done just to add on to the house and decided it would be better to spend the money to just start over.”

Hence, the couple took the leap and made a significant change in their living footprint, going from roughly 2,500 square feet of space to about 5,000 square feet that now encompasses their new story and a half residence in Prairie Village which can be aptly described as a refined cottage. There is definitely more space for them to accommodate their family, which includes three kids. 

Despite the massive change to a beautifully-designed custom home, the Garys kept the yard essentially the same, refusing to disturb any of its trees and keeping everything in the same spot.

With such a big change to their living space, however, came significant choices to make, but once Michael and Jacque headed down that road, they had little to no difficulty deciding upon what they wanted in terms of overall design and functionality.

And working with NSPJ was a no-brainer for this couple, especially when collaborating with principal architect, Rick Jones.

“We wanted to work with Rick and NSPJ because of their stellar reputation,” expressed Michael. “They are an amazing group and such a talented organization.”

With respect to the style of the home desired, Michael and Jacque leaned towards a natural, rustic feel but still wanted to infuse touches of modern elements, which creatively peek out at unexpected opportunities within the home’s design. For example, the expansive, air-tight pocket door – the NanaWall®, a uniquely-designed open and air-tight wall system that provides possibility beyond mere convention – seamlessly separates the interior living space from the exterior living space off the back of the house.

“The wall was one of the main features of the home, and they had to precisely engineer this system,” emphasized Michael. “We love the way it opens up the space to allow for a bigger area to gather with friends and family.”

The Garys also wanted the home built around the needs of their growing trio of kids.

“The upper bedrooms are almost like master suites in and of themselves,” stated Michael, referring to the three suites on the upper level of the home. “The (primary) master suite is on the main level, which is perfect for us as we do not plan to move again and wanted a home that would stand up to the test of time. As we get older and the kids move out, we can shut off the upper area of the house and essentially live in a ranch-style home again with everything we need located on the main level.”

Contiguous to the master bedroom is a cozy sitting room into which a mantel from their former home was installed for looks and show. The vaulted ceiling is comfortably accented with shiplap walls, providing a slight country feel to the space that flows well with the more modern vibe of the suite to which it connects.  The spa-like bathroom has been a family favorite since move-in day.

“All three of our kids used our shower at first for a while after we moved in,” laughed Jacque. “They just loved it!”

The highly-functional master suite also has an access door to the outside, which for now just leads to a small landing which then offers a few steps down to the yard, but ideas are always brewing in the couple’s minds as to where this door will ultimately lead.

The expansive kitchen pops with layers of rustic elements and modern tranquility. One of the primary standouts in this space is the reclaimed black walnut wood that comprises the flooring (and all flooring throughout the home), boasting a unique personality all of its own.

“This wood came from a barn and adds that Old World feeling,” indicated Michael. “It is so durable you can drop a hammer on it. Plus, the rustic and uneven texture it provides gives it the character we wanted.”

The island countertop is comprised of the same wood as the floors but has been sanded and made smooth to accommodate food prep and serving needs. The eye-catching pendant lights above give a hint of a maritime feel to the area.

It took roughly 18 months to construct this home, which includes four bedrooms, six bathrooms, an office space and a loft, as well as a finished basement with an extra bedroom and bathroom. Despite the efforts involved, the Garys are beyond excited with the final result. When asked about their favorite parts of the house, many areas come to mind, but both Jacque and Michael aren’t shy about what speaks to them personally the most.

“I love my kitchen,” reflected Jacque, who appreciates the open floor concept that allows for an effortless flow when gathering with family. Michael appreciates the overall design of the home and the versatility in how the back of the house can be opened and shut, expanding the overall footprint of the living space. He also appreciates how easily the interior design can be altered when they want to make a few design changes.

“We can easily change paint colors and modify the entire feel of the house quickly with no structural work done to it,” he expressed.  

Jones was equally delighted with the way the project turned out, and although his expert input and ideas did not go unnoticed by the homeowners, Jones refused to take all the credit.

“Michael and Jacque had a lot of good ideas and were such a pleasure to work with,” he indicated. “They were a significant part of the project, and, as architects, we like it when our clients tell us what to do.”

The expressions and ideas of Jones’ clients were of great assistance with this noteworthy project, and this home has a comfortable and efficient design that works effortlessly with a busy household.

“Their initial goal was more than a remodel could accomplish,” Jones indicated. “In general, I like to have homes of the same style inside and out, but in this case, it was different and it worked well. Fortunately, Michael is extremely creative and had a lot of input into how things were done.”


  • Architect: NSPJ Architects
  • Back Wall of Home: NanaWall
  • Countertops: Rock Tops
  • Doors: TruStile / McCray Millwork
  • Flooring: Elmwood Reclaimed Timber
  • Landscaper: Rosehill Gardens
  • Lighting: Restoration Hardware
  • Windows: Loewen / McCray Millwork

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