A Leawood couple builds a stylish and modern dream home where they can entertain family and age in place luxuriously.
Story by Jeanne de Lathouder | Photography by Matt Kocourek
As empty nesters and new grandparents, a Kansas City couple aspired to create a new home where they could age comfortably and enjoy their growing family. They found an idyllic setting near Mission Farms in Leawood and purchased the last lot available – a property that backs up to a charming little pond. For this new-construction project, they enlisted the help of Kathleen Ramsey, Allied ASID, lead designer and owner of Ramsey Interiors. Kathleen’s unique background as a Registered Nurse and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) made her an ideal pick for the homeowners’ ambitious endeavor.
“The theme for the home is ‘family, fun, and fitness,” explains Kathleen. “The wife has a degree in design entrepreneurship with a definitive eye and opinion on style and design. Since we had worked together on the couple’s prior home, we could collaborate easily. They were open to any type of out-of-the-box thinking to make this home unique, and we worked on all phases of the project together.”
The upper level is fully dedicated to family. The clients envisioned a place where their adult children and grandchildren could enjoy preparing and sharing meals and relaxing and visiting in the open-concept kitchen, dining, and living areas. A sleek and uncluttered kitchen aesthetic became a top request for the home. Also, because the clients’ home features a large expanse of glass on the entire back side that faces the pond, they wanted to warm up their spaces with wood, stone, and other natural materials. Overall, the homeowners prefer tailored yet comfortable furnishings, inviting textures, and interesting, unexpected features. For example, they wanted a curved wall in the entrance that would not instantly reveal the whole house when visitors entered the home. Once inside, the rooms are refreshingly airy and breathtaking.
“Because the spaces are so open and have soaring ceilings, it was essential to implement lighting solutions and furnishings that would bring them down to a human scale,” says Kathleen. The architect created clouds over the kitchen area that seemed to fade away visually, so we added a walnut accent to highlight them, and the ceiling in the living room was also clad in a warm wood.”
The lighting features included a stunning multi-tiered chandelier in the stairwell, large-scale pendants over the kitchen island, and a one-of-a-kind sculptural piece created with lighting designer Jon Cale for the entry and butler’s pantry area. This captivating piece can be seen from all the primary entertaining spaces on the main level.
“For the kitchen, a long island with plenty of seating was the priority,” says Kathleen. “Because the wife is petite, she didn’t want to climb a tall barstool, but her husband loves to sit at a raised bar. So, we heightened one end to accommodate the dishwasher for easier emptying and lowered the rest of the island for countertop seating. We also built a butler’s pantry behind the cooktop wall.”
The clients reserved the area next to the dining table as their “morning” room. They wanted comfortable, unique chairs where they could drink their morning coffee, watch the morning news, and see the pond – a ritual they love to start their days. In the adjacent living room, a focal-point fireplace inspired the tone of the space. This asymmetrical space was intentionally designed to create a feeling of informality, and the wood-paneled ceiling and stone accents lend a modern, organic vibe. Down the hall, the primary bedroom suite emits an inviting yet refined ambiance and features a luxurious bathroom with a bathing zone and vanity dressing area.
“The lower level is dedicated to fun and fitness,” says Kathleen. “Because the husband is a big hockey fan who enjoys watching the games on the downstairs TV, he had final approval of all decisions for this space. From the beginning, the couple did not want to have the function of the basement repeat the use of any space on the main level. A unique priority for this area was the inclusion of a small indoor counter-current pool.”
The lower level holds two guest bedrooms and two full baths. Because the couple prefers contemporary design with natural materials – wood, leather, metals – they wanted this area to exude a more industrial feel without looking rustic. To create a sense of flow, they also requested a recreation area that could open to the indoor pool. Both the pool and pond beyond inspired them to create a curvy, watery aesthetic for the space with a custom carpet throughout that carries the wavy design.
“The main area is a large open space, so I needed to figure out a way to carve out activity zones,” says Kathleen. “The husband knew he wanted a wood-beamed ceiling with lighting coming through, so we implemented that over the game table and created a long, curved ceiling embellishment around the TV/bar area.”
The main area is a recreation room with a ping pong table that converts to a dining table, an air-hockey game, and a pinball machine. An adjacent sitting area furnished with outdoor furniture emulates an alfresco ambiance that feels light and airy. Glass doors that separate the space from the rec room allow for cool breezes and a seamless extension to the outdoors and lake in back.
“The homeowners’ grandchildren thoroughly enjoy the pool when they visit,” says Kathleen. “I love this area as well and was inspired by some blue bubble tile early in the selection process. I envisioned the wave on the far wall of the pool, which you can see as you come down the stairs to the lower level. It’s a spectacular visual that completely draws you into the space.”
- Interior Designer: Ramsey Interiors
- Builder: Ambassador Construction
- Architect: Webster Architects
- Cabinets: Profile Cabinets
- Stone: Carthage Stoneworks
- Tile: Virginia Tile
- Plumbing: Kitchens & Baths by Briggs
- Custom Fixture: John Cale Bronze Age Design
- Carpet: Milliken Carpet
- Windows: Panda Window and Doors