It’s almost time for the 52nd Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, keeping many traditions alive by keeping it all in the family.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Steve Everley
It’s hard to believe it is that time of year again: the highly anticipated 52nd Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, which runs from June 10 – July 3. A Kansas City tradition sponsored by the Kansas City Symphony Alliance (KCSA), the project benefits the Kansas City Symphony. Each year, the KCSA designates a Kansas City landmark home for the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse. This requires the homeowner to move out so a public preview of the home can be held. As part of this showhouse, local designers are selected and tasked with transforming each room of the home into a design showplace. Then, the home is opened to the public. Funds generated from ticket sales support the Kansas City Symphony.
This year’s Showhouse promises to be a standout in the long-standing history of the project. Located at 1025 W. 53rd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri, this French country style home (with strong whispers of English Tudor, depending on your perspective), was built in 1932 and was designed by architect Edward Tanner, whose work can be seen around the Country Club Plaza, the UMKC campus, in Prairie Village, and throughout many of the city’s most beautiful suburbs.
Keeping it “Aull” in the Family
Prior to its current owners, this residence was belonged to the proprietors of Sebree Galleries Antiques and Café, located in the Crestwood Shops in Kansas City. In 1997, David and Judy Aull purchased the home to live in permanently, yet also saw it as an opportunity to make it greater than it was. Shortly after they moved in, the Aulls added an additional 25’ x 42’ foot tandem garage space with living space above it (perfect for an office or small apartment) and also expanded the kitchen and family room areas of the home. The home encompasses roughly 5,000 square feet of living space and has four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms overall, and a finished basement.
David and Judy continued to reside here until Judy’s passing a couple of years ago. She always had an affinity for older homes and this particular abode appealed to her sensitivities in that regard.
“After we moved in, we decided to enlarge the kitchen because it was too small and we added some skylights in there,” recalled David. “We also blew out the old family room that was roughly the size of a two-car garage and put in a wood-burning fireplace and sunken patio.”
Judy excelled as a Master Gardener, and in 2016 the home’s expansive garden was part of the Master Gardeners of Missouri Tour.
“We decided then to add the atrium to complement the backyard,” noted David. “This beautiful space draws the garden practically into the house. What is nice about it is we could bring plants inside for the winter that would not normally survive.”
This atrium now serves as a sunroom, garden area, and dining room (the latter was turned into a library) with a show-stopping 1,000 pound stone table that certainly sets a grandiose stage.
“I consider that table my grandbaby,” laughed David, who had a friend in the business of quarrying stone out of the Flint Hills provide him with the half-ton piece which was subsequently constructed into a table by Carthage Marble. The massive table is supported by three stone pieces and an iron brace.
“It can be moved but it is quite heavy, so it’s more of a permanent fixture,” said David. “We designed it so we could get the whole family around the table at the holidays.”
Although David loves this home, he is ready to downsize and is moving into a smaller, new home in Prairie Village this Spring. When the Showhouse tour is over, however, David doesn’t necessarily have to completely say his goodbyes to the home, as his daughter and son-in-law, Amy and Peter Murphy, have decided to move from their southern Johnson County home into this residence.
“This really just sort of evolved over the last several months,” indicated Peter. “Amy’s dad decided to build a new, one-level house, so we decided we would buy this house from him.”
Amy and Peter had been looking in this area of town for another home, anyway, after their daughter left for college, so this just made sense to them.
“Nothing particularly caught our eye in our search for another home, so we started talking about it to my dad, and knowing how special the home was to him and my mom, we had a heartfelt discussion about keeping in the family,” reflected Amy. “This way, we can still keep our holiday traditions alive, and I can tend to the garden my mom loved.”
Amy and Peter previously lived in this particular part of town before they got married and are excited about returning to their roots in that regard.
“Although we left the area after we got married, we always knew we’d come back,” Amy reflected.
Getting on the Showhouse radar
“I saw on the Symphony’s website that they were looking for a showhouse for this year,” stated Peter. “I called them and told them I had house that might work for them. After they asked me about the house and then came to look at it, they decided it would be ideal to use it in this year’s event.”
Typically, showhouses are on the market during this tour, but this is a unique situation as the home has already been sold to Amy and Peter. This gives them more flexibility in making it open and available for the tour before they move in afterwards.
Both Amy and Peter are looking forward to calling this place home. Amy enjoys the garden and hopes to maintain it to her mom’s previous standards.
“It is very special to me because of my mom’s accomplishments as a Master Gardener,” she said. “Who knows? I may go as far as becoming a Master Gardener, too.”
Peter enjoys the atrium for its light and bright presence and the way it frames the entire backyard.
“When Amy’s parents built the atrium/conservatory in 2017, it received a national award,” said Peter. “It’s a very special room.”
Kudos to the Symphony
Amy and Peter are proud supporters of the symphony and have already purchased tickets for various performances this year.
“I can see us becoming more involved with the symphony events,” expressed Amy.
“It’s been great meeting all of the committee members,” said Peter. “They are all so passionate about the Showhouse and about the symphony.”
“We are excited to see what each designer brings,” noted Amy. “There are so many special things about this house that make it unique, including antique chandeliers and 16th-18th century wood mouldings and carvings throughout the house, which the former owners incorporated from their worldly travels.”
David will miss this home, but he is ready to move on.
“At 5,000 square feet, it is just too big for me now,” he reflected. “But it is a great place for a family as it is within walking distance to the Plaza. We used to eat Thanksgiving dinner together as a family and then walk to the Plaza to watch the lights come on. That was our special tradition.”
Even though David is excited to begin a new chapter in his life, he confessed he will miss the atrium the most. As he prepares to move into his new villa in Prairie Village, he is pleased that the keys to his home are now going to his daughter and son-in-law.
“It’s a very special home,” he smiled.
Added Amy, “My dad sees this Showhouse event as his farewell, sort of a sendoff from the neighborhood.”