If Michelangelo Had Built A Home in Kansas City

3821 0

The palette from which this masterpiece arose required a true stroke of genius.

Story by Ann E. Butenas    |    Photos by Matt Kocourek


If Michelangelo had been in the business of creating homes, this Lake Quivira beauty would have easily rivaled most any of his coveted masterpieces. It initially presents with a seemingly palatial feel, yet its interior charm and style make it a space to truly call home. More than just a one-in-a-million home, this is a once-in-a-lifetime creation.

A solid collaborative effort, it took a village of sorts to breathe life into this residence. Working alongside the owners were Rick McDermott of RDM Architecture; builder Don Julian of Don Julian Builders; Dani James, Allied Member ASID designer and owner of Crossroads Interiors; and Steve Heichel, landscape designer with Rosehill Gardens. Together these creative and ambitious individuals, along with their various teams, took an exciting vision and brought it to stunning fruition.

McDermott and the RDM Architecture team were fully involved with the development of the home, which encompassed roughly four years of committed teamwork. In addition to the 10,000 square feet of living space, there is another 5,000 square feet of usable outdoor space which is easily accessed from within the home. Just like a jaw-dropping piece of art, this inhabitable sculpture represents the result of keen attention to detail, design, functionality and form, seamlessly coming together as undoubtedly one of the top designs in the portfolio of RDM Architecture.


“This Mediterranean style home has four bedrooms plus one additional room currently used as an exercise room that can be converted to another bedroom in the future, along with two half baths, one full bath with tub and four full baths with showers,” noted McDermott. “This house was completely customized for the owners and they were involved in the design and the material selection throughout a long and in-depth process which resulted in a great house that fits their style and the way they live.”

Among the outstanding highlights of this home include the helical staircase and tower above in the entryway; a two-story great room; a master suite with a formal sitting room; sun room; main floor laundry room that doubles as a catering kitchen and “Her” office and lower level gathering room and theater room. There is also a second floor screen porch that offers a spectacular view. Mahogany was a running theme throughout the home, as well, and was used in the ceilings in the great room, as well as in the trim and the columns. The numerous outdoors spaces situated on all levels, along with large windows strategically placed throughout, support the ambiance of being among nature at nearly every turn.

Besides going “green” for the natural aspects of the home, “green” elements were incorporated to include ground source geothermal heating; spray foam insulation, deep overhangs and Kansas City solar energy efficient double glazing reduced solar gain, and the maintenance of mature trees wherever possible to maximize shade.

“This project was definitely the consummate collaboration,” stated interior design expert James. “There was never a meeting without myself (representing the client) or a representative of both the builder and of RDM Architecture from the time I became involved through its completion.”

James indicated one of the the most notable features of the home is the spectacular inlaid marble center medallion in the custom designed floor on the main level in the curvature of the staircase that was specifically designed for the home. With so many exquisite details throughout the home, each room is part of a greater tapestry working together cohesively to provide beauty, comfort, and spectacular views as well as very livable spaces.

“The primary goals with respect to this home were to maximize the setting and to bring the outdoors in,” James explained. “That meant the incorporation of lots of glass and light to allow for the views. We also used various greenery and plants in the repetition of colors and patterns on fabrics throughout the home, repeating landscape colors against a neutral background. This was truly a labor of love, from choosing the furniture, the accessories, the tile work and all of the hard finishes. Virtually every piece of furniture, as well as every fabric and trim, was chosen specifically for the home. The owners were very participatory with every decision made and we all took a cue from them.”


The formal sitting room, for example, enjoys a hand-carved limestone fireplace and a foliage-enhanced area rug. African mahogany on the trim work adds a strong layer of style. The main kitchen (one of three in the home!) enjoys limestone quartz countertops and handcrafted back splash tiles, along with a hand painted carved tile relief of a basket of fruit and flowers over the range. Even the refrigerator provides a unique look with its armoire façade.

An inviting sun room enjoys a sprinkling of colors with purple, pink and orange popping throughout as rattan chairs, a painted farmhouse table, hand painted tile around the fire place and hand painted accent tile in the floor complete the relaxed and casual vibe.

And while the upper levels of the home tend towards more of an elegant, yet still homey feel, the lower level bar and theater area suggest a more rustic and casual atmosphere. The wool plaid sofa and the subtle browns and greens on the chairs, which are traditional pieces with a bit of heather on them, lend themselves to that feeling. The sliding barn doors are designed to close off the space or to open it up, and the custom designed wine cellar behind the bar is not to be missed.

“In my 40 years as a residential home builder, I can certainly say that this home is one of the most intricately detailed homes, using the finest materials and workmanship we have ever built,” expressed builder Julian. “The homeowners were a dream to work with since they enjoyed every step of the process and made a financial commitment to make it the very best it could be. In a 40-year career, you hope to have at least one project where the owners are committed to produce the best of the best, and this client fulfilled that dream with the completion of this true work of art.”


One of Julian’s favorite aspects of this home is the helical main staircase, which opens to the expansive living area, featuring solid mahogany throughout.

“The attention to detail in this home far exceeds any expectation you may have as you tour the layout,” said Julian. “Working with the owners as they strived for perfection truly helped us jointly create a masterpiece. This is the type of project an owner (and their builder) can only create once in a lifetime.”

Landscape designer Heichel expressed similar sentiments.

“It was challenging to work with this level of client,” conveyed Heichel. “It’s a place that has a million-dollar view, and the Tuscan-style design is reflected in the outdoor elements.”

“We married the interior of the home to the exterior, picking up on the same style,” said Heichel, noting that home sits on a large double lot with 50 feet of fall from the main level to the lowest part of the road. With everyone working together, this home was built right the first time, and the homeowner understands and appreciates the value of that level of quality.”

Creating the landscape features required a very analytical approach, factoring in all of the layouts, the gardens, the terraces and the hardscapes, ensuring each worked in tandem with the other creating a seamless and harmonious presentation. Taking a leisurely walk along the grounds is somewhat akin to strolling through an outdoor museum.

“There are so many levels of patios and vignettes with varying degrees of sun shade and views,” emphasized Heichel. “In fact, this home has been on a number of garden tours already. It has a very active landscape with constant blooming color depending upon the season. I love to see all of the changing colors throughout the year.”

Rosehill Gardens maintains the property on a consistent basis throughout the year, pruning, planting, weed pulling, adjusting irrigation timers, fertilizing the flowers, mowing and chemical applications, all to ensure that the integrity of the design is maintained.


Other exciting features around the perimeter of the home include an upper level screened porch that overlooks the various gardens, landscapes and the lake. There is a covered outdoor kitchen, pool, waterfall, hot tub and fire pit.

“This is a vacation home in and of itself,” expressed Heichel. “And the backyard specifically has a resort-like feeling to it.”

A solid team player, Heichel is quick to point out that with a project of this magnitude, no one person gets all of the credit.

“It required the effort of all of us together – the best of the best – and it was exciting to work with these brilliant design minds and contractors to create this masterpiece,” said Heichel.


Builder: Don Julian Builders   |   Architect: RDM Architecture   |   Designer: Crossroads Interiors   |   Landscape Designer: Rosehill Gardens   |   Stone: Sturgis Materials   |   Masonry: Architectural Masonry   |   Pool: Blue Haven Pools

About The Author