An unlikely long-distance collaboration between a Kansas City designer and a Richmond, Missouri, couple turned into an incredible work of art and an ever-lasting friendship.
Story by Jeanne De Lathouder | Photography by Matt Kocourek
Some things are meant to be—even if you first refuse them. Such was the case when Kansas City interior designer Jen Surface first said no to a project proposal. When she received an alert on social media saying, “need help with master bedroom and closet — we live in Richmond, Missouri,” she responded, “I’m sorry, I don’t travel that far. Thank you for reaching out to me.” Shortly thereafter, she received a call from Randy Huffman, the Richmond homeowner, who began by saying, “We love your work and your artwork. We only want you. Oh, and it’s a much bigger job than my wife, Sherri, thinks,” followed by a hardy laugh.
“I decided to check it out — and am so happy I did,” says Jen, co-owner of her and her husband’s business, Surface to Surface Interior Design and Construction. “Creativity is one of the greatest joys of life, and they let me run wild with it.”
Jen immediately had a vision for the Huffman’s 7,000+ square-foot addition as well as the original part of their home. When only the framing was up, she provided complete sketches of every space she would design.
“We searched for the perfect designer, and we found her,” says Sherri. “She ranks high in the design world, and we were attracted to her reviews about her pay-it-forward mindset in helping the less fortunate. It was a bonus to know we could help her with that. We were also impressed with her refined natural aesthetic and unique project portfolio, and Randy yearned for her custom artwork.”
Jen’s initial concept for the Huffmans was to create an ample living space with no walls yet separate areas that flowed naturally into each other. This type of plan made her furnishing selections a dominant consideration. Generous seating was imperative. The massive spaces allow 50 people to sit comfortably on the main level alone.
“I wanted the home to feel like a real home yet a true getaway,” Jen explains. “My formula was equal parts comfort, unexpected features, and quiet luxury. As much as I wanted to create a really spectacular environment for the family to enjoy, I didn’t want to compete with the architecture or the setting. The home’s bold architectural gestures create sweeping visual effects. And all day long, the light in the house is magical, with different hues making their way in through the 62 incredible, oversized windows. At night, the lighting is hypnotic.”
Everything about this project required a strong sense of purpose regarding scale. Each selection mattered, and Jen consistently strove for a classic, timeless aesthetic — the perfect blend of textures, patterns, and colors. The look had to be breathtaking yet welcoming. A well-balanced mixture of exuberance and restraint, the furnishings and materials are reflections of the Huffmans’ lifestyle and environment. Jen also crafted nine large-scale custom art pieces to hang throughout. Her favorite is the piano that emulates the owners’ elegant baby grand.
“In addition to her great eye, Jen is witty and stress-free to work with,” says Sherri. “Everything was seamlessly executed, and she made our home fit our lifestyle and personalities. We love the black and white backdrop mixed with colors in the décor. She knew what we wanted more than we did. Now we truly enjoy hosting our family dinners and get-together with friends here. Everyone is astounded when they first walk in and see the materials, textiles, furnishings, lighting, custom art, and the things she and our builder, John Dorton, designed.”
“John worked alongside his father at a young age, and there is nothing he can’t do,” says Randy, who, incidentally, began building an incredible steak restaurant called Branded Steakhouse during this project. “Sherri was a good sport,” he laughs.
Some of the home’s most spectacular features include a soaring barrel-vaulted brick ceiling over the open kitchen and dining area, a sweeping curved staircase with illuminated brick risers that create a dramatic glow at night, several magnificent lighting fixtures that dazzle the eye while punctuating the spaces, and a dynamic collection of musically themed graphic artwork sprinkled throughout.
Striking black and white quartz atop the kitchen’s double islands provide another eye-catching feature that echoes the home’s bold modern vibe. Black and white accent pieces — rugs, throw pillows, supple leather seating, and plush upholstered pieces — complement the palette throughout. Organic decorative embellishments lend earthy texture and visual interest to every room. A harmonizing mix of stone, brick, and hardwood materials lends authenticity to the home and creates an appealing natural aesthetic in every space.
Upstairs, the private master bedroom suite is a haven of luxury for the homeowners with stunning panoramic views of the wide-open sky and the scenic Missouri landscape.
“I wanted this to be a house you were thrilled to experience from the first step inside,” says Jen. “The Huffman’s young builder, John Dorton, is masterful and can do absolutely anything — if I did not think of something, he did. We worked together with effortless magic turning this once small, modest home into a comfortable, exhilarating, massive monument of leisure.”
Downstairs, the basement takes on a more masculine edge and features a golf simulator space, a game room, saunas, and an extensive wine room with massive walls featuring custom wine boxes that Jen envisioned and designed. Upcoming plans for the exterior grounds outside include lush courtyards and a serene lazy river.
“We could not be happier with the way our home turned out,” says Sherri, “and we look forward to years of happiness here.”
“It is almost impossible for a camera to capture what I consider the most outstanding features,” says Jen. “This project represents the work of so many talented and hard-working artisans — I am enormously grateful for them. The Huffmans’ complete trust and unwavering support empowered me to be fearless and to dream, and I will forever be friends with this fun, adorable couple. There was not one second that I regretted giving in to Randy — his big personality and their generosity are adored by the community, and I’m blessed to know them.”
- General Contractor & Construction Design: John Dorton Construction
- Interior Designer & Design Concept: Surface to Surface Interior Design and Construction
- Artwork: Jennifer Surface, Surface to Surface Interior Design and Construction
- Countertops: Central Surfaces
- Cabinets: Superior Wood Products
- Elevator: Country Home Elevator
- Window Treatments: Affordable Blinds
- Custom Staircase: John Dorton Construction
- Custom Wine Racks: John Dorton Construction
- Hardwood Flooring: Flooring and More
- Stone & Brick: Higginsville Brick and Tile Company
- Stone, Brick & Stucco Installation: Guerra Construction
- Decks and Construction Design Assistance: Caldwell Construction