A homeowner’s vision, a designer’s inspiration, and a builder’s experience were the most powerful tools in the design of this luxury custom home.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
The late Walt Disney once reflected, “You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” This fully-custom home located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri stands as a strong testament to that sentiment. Were it not for the team of the homeowners, the architect, the designer and the builder, this palatial estate might not ever have come to fruition. And, despite its magnificent size, its beginnings all come down to one essential starting point.
“I had a vision of what I wanted to do,” expressed Tim Dollar of his nearly 15,000 square foot home. This is a home about which he had always dreamed and into which he put significant thought and input for over two years prior to first spade. “I spent hours on the land itself and in the office of architect John Mackaman designing this home with him, and he was able to capture the vision I had.”
Dollar, one of the top trial lawyers in America who has been in practice for 35 years, hails from Raytown, Missouri, originally, but now enjoys his new exclusive and secluded Lee’s Summit address. It was a grand undertaking and not one to be taken lightly. As such, Dollar joked he was able to persuade his wife, Debbie, to build just one more home.
“I told her that we can then go from this home to the nursing home,” he laughed.
Once Dollar had his vision captured on paper, he contracted with builders Rick and Brett Standard of RM Standard, one of the country’s leading custom home builders. While some builders did not have the necessary resources to tackle a project of such complexity and scale, Standard greatly lived up to Dollar’s expectations.
“The strength of a general contractor is their talent, knowledge and expertise in getting sub-contractors,” noted Dollar. “Standard employed the highest level of talent in them. The trim work, for example, is amazing. Plus, they have the responsiveness and flexibility needed for this project. They were quite flexible and were able to roll with the punches. Further, because they have been involved in similar projects, I was impressed with their attention to detail and ability to work with the interior designer.”
Brett Standard returned the appreciation in kind.
“Tim had the vision and knew what he wanted to do and gave the architects good direction,” he said. “We were lucky enough to build it from the ground up, and you couldn’t ask for two nicer people than Tim and Debbie. They both have shared how much they enjoy the home and it definitely gets used. Every room is comfortable and you feel as if you can sit down, relax and have a conversation. Tim thought through how he was going to use each space, and as we built this home, we talked through how he would use each room, all the way down to the lighting, the electrical components and even the TVs.”
Among the many features of this luxurious yet extremely comfortable estate include four bedrooms, each with its own full bath; three additional half baths and another full bath with steam room. There is a separate living area for Dollar’s mother, complete with its own entry, garage, master bedroom and laundry room. An elevator allows for ease of access between all three levels of the home. Other notable spaces include the expansive gourmet kitchen with cathedral ceiling, the wine cellar, the gym (with a hidden spiral staircase leading up to the master suite), the home office and a resort-style outdoor retreat, which includes a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen area, a swimming pool with water features and a manual creek that can be activated as desired.
While the couple’s four children are mostly grown and all moved out of the home, they do have significant others, and Dollar sees this place as a destination point for them. Additionally, Dollar and his wife enjoy entertaining and are actively involved in political fundraisers. And this home also easily serves its purpose well when the large extended family they have together gathers at the holidays.
“We had 60-70 people at Thanksgiving,” Dollar recalled.
Apart from the bones of this home, the interior design landscape did not come lightly. Dollar brought on board the expertise of Mark Sudermann, Co-Founder and Head Designer of M. Sudermann Interior Design. Sudermann is known not only for his exquisite design talent but also his ability to create strong relationships with his clients.
“I was floored with the level of Mark’s involvement at every detail, down to the door panels, arches, textures, colors and even the width of the baseboards,” expressed Dollar.
Added Standard, “Mark helped guide them and made it manageable. He kept them on course and took Tim’s direction.”
Sudermann’s portfolio of expertise also appealed to Dollar, but the collaboration did not come without a few playful strings attached.
When working with Sudermann, Dollar extended great respect for his work, but also indicated he hired him to provide his opinion…but with the caveat Dollar would confidently input his own ideas into the scheme of things.
“I told him to feel free to disagree with me and make your final closing argument,” he quipped. “I advised him I may argue, but because I trust you, you will win. I wanted him to convince me why his ideas were better than mine.”
Apparently, Sudermann emerged victoriously and seemingly unscratched from this highly-involved design project, entering into each design “negotiation” with a keen eye, unparalleled talent and unwavering passion for what would work and why it would work.
“He lost very few closing arguments because he is that good,” smiled Dollar.
Among the many design decisions that leaned towards Sudermann’s favor included the additional island in the kitchen and the vaulted, blue-painted ceiling in the office.
“Tim wanted a prep sink in that island but I steered him away from that idea, telling him he’d never use it,” indicated Sudermann, who also talked Dollar into the artistic ceiling in the office.
Even though he stood at the helm of the design equation, the vast scope of the project was not lost on Sudermann.
“The sheer size of the project made it challenging to stay very creative with each selection,” he explained. “The master bath tile in and of itself was its own big project.”
Much like the response to the inquiry how do you eat an elephant is one bite at a time, that is the design approach which Sudermann took with this home.
“We segmented each room individually and then made it cohesive with the rest of the house,” he explained. “One design decision led to the next, making it all eventually work together.”
While Dollar championed Sudermann with such impeccable taste in his design efforts, he would claim his involvement with the design of the home, outside of the overall vision for it, would point to the exterior stone.
“I looked for about 18 months – online, around town and all over the country – before I finally found a house on an internet photo that had what I was looking for,” recalled Dollar, who proceeded to track down that home, which was in Canada, which led him to the builder, and then to the architect and ultimately to the quarry from which the stone was extracted.
“The stone was purchased in Canada and from what I have been told, our house is the only house in the United States with this type of stone,” emphasized Dollar.
While the overall architectural theme of the home leans towards traditional, it is quite the challenge to narrow its style down to just one descriptive word.
“This home has a style all its own,” noted designer Mark Sudermann.
Sudermann knew he had hit the mark with his design efforts when Dollar extended a heartfelt compliment to him after all was said and done.
“Tim thanked me for making this huge house a home,” he recalled. “He told me I made it comfortable and not grand and elaborate while also making all of the spaces livable. It’s very rewarding to have an extremely happy client.”
- Architect: Elswood Smith Carlson
- Builder/Contractor: RM Standard Construction
- Interior Designer: M. Sudermann Interior Design
- Flooring Hardwood: Acme Floor Co.
- Tile: CST Tile
- Countertops: Dimensional Stoneworks
- Appliances: Factory Direct Appliance
- Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Enterprises
- Roofing: Fidler on the Roof
- Windows: KC Millwork – Marvin
- Doors: KC Millwork
- Wine Cellar Doors: KC Millwork – TruStile
- Hardware: Locks and Pulls
- Lumber: McCray Lumber
- Cabinets: Profile Cabinets
- Garage Doors: Radio Controlled Garage Door
- Heating & Cooling: United Heating & Cooling
- Glass & Mirrors: Westport Glass
- Light Fixtures: Wilson Lighting
- Hardscaping: BC Hardscapes
- Landscaping and Lighting: New Leaf Landscape
- Pool/Spa: Land & Water, LLC