A Johnson County couple and their large extended family create a cozy and personable retreat where they can all come together and celebrate life.
Story by Jeanne de Lathouder | Photos by Chad Jackson Photography
Finding the perfect nest for themselves and their close-knit family was paramount for these homeowners who worked out of state while the rest of their children and grandchildren lived in Kansas City. They wanted to have a place in a central location where they could all celebrate often and enjoy each other’s company. This special dwelling, nestled within a blissfully lush landscape in one of Johnson County’s most scenic neighborhoods, offered a multitude of opportunities to personalize each room and make their house a home. Without ever seeing the property in person, the homeowners relied on their extended family’s approval before the purchase was final.
“These clients are extremely social and have a large family,” says interior designer Jill Tran, of Tran + Thomas Design Studio, who worked alongside her business partner, Carmen Thomas, to revamp this home from top to bottom to reflect the tastes and lifestyles of the inhabitants. “Not every room was being utilized or felt right to them, and they didn’t want to spend hundreds of hours on an extensive redesign that didn’t feel special to them,” she adds. “We really wanted each room to support group entertaining and casual get-togethers. The living room, for example, now has a lot of versatile seating that was designed for everyday enjoyment and was even laid out specifically to easily integrate a Christmas tree,” she notes.
“Getting to know the client’s extended family has been such a joyful part of this designing experience,” says Carmen. “Understanding how each part of the home is used by all the members of the homeowners’ family was crucial to us creating entertaining spaces customized to enhance the way they live,” she adds.
The grand entrance of the home features a large-scale framed photograph that creates an impactful focal point. A pair of chairs with opposing arms that are custom upholstered in a shimmery blue fabric gracefully flank the artwork without taking it from the spotlight. The space emanates a warm and welcoming vibe—the perfect prelude for the inviting rooms beyond.
For the dining room—a favorite family gathering place—the clients wanted to use their existing dining table. Jill and Carmen reupholstered the dining chairs, and while doing so, were inspired to upholster the walls to create a deep, rich, and intense color scheme for this inviting space. The covered walls also help control sound waves from all the music, laughter, and festivities that typically bounce throughout this room.
One of the most impressive parts of the home is the beautiful view of the back yard, which formerly was hidden behind dark, heavy shutters. By removing these, the natural light floods in and instantly brightens the hearth room and kitchen.
“The kitchen hearth room was one of those odd spaces that was too big, but not big enough,” laughs Jill. “It was one of those spaces that people aren’t exactly sure what to do with. We reconfigured the room so it made sense and also added additional seating and furniture as necessary. We solved the spatial issues so it looked complete and well thought-out—that tough balance of creating a professional solution without it being too stuffy,” she says.
In the kitchen, the homeowners wanted an updated, lighter feel without changing the brown cabinets and granite countertop. Jill and Carmen dressed the existing space in light neutral hues with draperies and counter stools as well as adding a pair of chandeliers with ivory shades over the kitchen island. The result is bright and gorgeous and gives the room a modern edge balanced with elegant traditional style.
“We believe that each room should speak to the rooms around it, yet have its own personality,” says Jill. “Each room should function properly first and be beautiful second. At the beginning, our clients didn’t know what colors should be used but loved turquoise and blue. Rather than focusing on trends, we helped create the perfect timeless color palette around those shades that we knew they would love. Over the years, we have really perfected seeing into our clients’ hearts, so we can give them what they didn’t even know they wanted,” she laughs.
“The wife had this incredibly diverse and extensive collection of clocks handed down from her father,” says Carmen. “They were hidden away in the basement and were not being displayed or appreciated. Our solution was to elevate the great room’s standard all-wood niches by introducing glass shelves and gold foil wallpaper. We then carefully curated the clock collection and mixed in vintage family photos. The result is a stunning, highly personalized display of family history for everyone to enjoy,” she adds.
The lower-level bar and game room area was the ideal place to express a more casual side of the homeowners’ personalities. Jill and Carmen developed a custom blue wall color and accented it with gorgeous red leather chairs that swivel so the activities in the room can be viewed 360 degrees. They re-felted the pool table in a deeper more dramatic green hue and planned out the entire room and seating areas for the family’s prime enjoyment of the space.
“Our clients were so happy with the upholstered walls in the dining room, we added them to the bar area walls as well,” says Jill. “The look is dramatic, and the woodwork has such beautiful details and craftsmanship. The bar lighting is stunning and strategically placed. We always tell the electricians exactly where we want any lighting to be installed. By doing so, you can really change a space—otherwise they will hang it where they think it should be, which often isn’t where we would prefer it be,” she adds.
An essential part of the Tran + Thomas philosophy and the reason for their remarkable success over the years is that they have always valued the importance of hiring a professional. Their clients continue to appreciate their consistency, attention to detail, and their ability to present innovative ideas and new ways of looking at things.
“We really enjoyed getting to know these clients, their family, and working with all of them,” says Jill. “They are such wonderful people. They have all had so much input and really cared that each enjoys the space as much as the other. It was so fun.”
- Interior Designer: Tran + Thomas Design Studio
- Entryway: Custom Chairs / Hickory White
- Dining Room: Wall Fabric, Duralee / Sconces, Currey and Company
- Great Room: Chandelier, Visual Comfort / Coffee Table, Hickory Chair / Rug, Surya
- Hearth Room: Side Tables, Bernhardt / Custom Drapery Fabric, Duralee / Lamps, Wildwood
- Desk Chair: Fabric, Jane Churchill
- Master Entryway: Lamps, John Richard
- Kitchen: Chandeliers, Visual Comfort
- Lower Level: Puzzle Table, Hickory Chair
- Guest Room/Custom Bedding: Comforter Fabric, Robert Allen / Skirt, Unique Fine Fabrics / Headboard Fabric, Bailey and Griffin