The Chicks Dig It
From the hen house to the whole house, this fabulous residence enjoys a remodel that is both stylish and functional.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
If you are familiar with the old query, “Why did the chicken cross the road,” we may have your answer right here. Several years ago, when husband and wife Jim Williams and Betsy Collins lived in Leawood, Kansas, they decided to add a bit of pizzazz to the family’s annual Easter celebration one year. With seven kids between the two of them, family gatherings have always been fun and special.
“On a lark, my sister and I bought Easter chicks for the kids, but since we could not keep them at our home (due to neighborhood restrictions), we had to find a farm to take care of them as they grew,” recalled Betsy, who, because of those chicks, decided to ultimately just pack their bags and move to a place where they could keep their feathered friends right at home. “Our neighborhood just wouldn’t budge on their decision not to allow us to keep those chicks, so we found a place where we could.”
Cruising down the road a piece, Betsy, Jim and their four original chicks found their new home off 185th and Mission Road in Stilwell, Kansas. It was a decided slice of heaven on earth. Yep! This was the place. There was no turning back now.
The Surrounding Grounds: An Eggs-tra Special Place.
“We got it in writing that we were allowed to have chickens on this property,” laughed Betsy, noting they began with those four original chickens and now have a community of 34 of them that live in an impressive backyard coop and are a regular source of farm fresh eggs for family and neighbors. “A couple of them are just older gals who don’t lay eggs anymore and for whom we have a special coop.”
Betsy and Jim love spending time out back, tending to the chickens, or just relaxing with family and friends in the sitting area contiguous to the coop. This is truly an idyllic setting. There is also a barn of sorts out back that has provided the perfect venue for a couple of family weddings. Two of its walls are not enclosed but with its doors shut, it resembles an old country barn. Peaceful and picturesque is the setting it promotes. Also on the grounds on the lower level is a swimming pool, basketball court, hot tub and fire pit. There is no doubt this place is the perfect spot for gatherings of the couple’s large, extended family.
Stunning Interior Design: No Desire from Anyone to Fly the Coop Here!
After living in their home for the past several years, Jim and Betsy have been hard at work updating its interior in phases. Most recently they focused on the main floor spaces and enlisted the help of Betsy’s sister-in-law, Debbie, an interior designer who owns Alliscalm Interiors. Debbie has been responsible for most of the exciting updates in the home and was more than thrilled to continue her work at this stage.
“Anything Debbie does is incredible,” Betsy emphasized. “She has an eye for detail.”
Debbie worked in collaboration with Georgia Jones, designer with A&M Home Furnishings, to help her pull the look together. Georgia assisted Debbie with some of the custom furniture selections. In turn, Debbie enjoyed bouncing ideas off of Georgia, who eventually helped her find the perfect pieces for the home.
“I had the resources Debbie did not, so we worked well together in seeing this project come together,” expressed Georgia.
Among the custom furniture pieces secured from A&M include two sofas, two lounge chairs, an ottoman, brass side table, and navy velvet bar stools for the sunroom; side chairs for the kitchen; two lounge chairs in the library; two swivel chairs, a nesting coffee table and a sofa sectional for the hearth room; a sofa sectional, swivel chair, bench at end of bed and ottoman in the bathroom vanity area in the master suite; and a Chesterfield couch, two wing-back chairs and a glass coffee table in the living room. The coffee table in the library was custom-made by Betsy’s cousin, John White.
“We went back and forth on the furniture style and fabrics, collaborating heavily in that regard,” indicated Georgia. “Debbie would take arm loads of fabric samples to Betsy and get her to weigh in on the selections. It was a truly great working relationship.”
Even though Debbie and Georgia began their collaboration many months ago, Georgia actually saw the final project all pulled together just weeks ago, and her response sums up the amazing results achieved.
“Debbie knocked it out of the park!” Georgia beamed.
Room to Room…
Between the main house and the carriage house, the owners enjoy nearly 10,000 square feet of living space that includes six bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The former color palette of old jewel tones, such as red, gold and dark green, were losing their luster, prompting the owners to pivot from that dated look to brighter and softer colors that easily invite relaxation and calm.
“This was basically a re-do from seven years ago,” noted Debbie. “In 2019 they decided to update the main level. The project began with a bit of construction work, leveling out a previously raised floor that matched a raised bar.”
The entry way was repainted and the stairs were recarpeted. The dining room was also repainted and updated with new custom-made draperies. In the informal dining area, Debbie recovered the original host chairs and added a new table and side chairs. Debbie has a strong sense of when to incorporate new elements and when to showcase existing items.
“All of the rugs on the main floor are new, but I did want to incorporate things they already had into the design whenever possible, so some of the furniture and décor pieces Betsy already had,” explained Debbie. “The only new pendant lights in the main living area are the two above the sunroom breakfast bar and the one in the hearth room bar.”
New countertops and backsplash highlight the kitchen, and textured wallpaper replaced the former cranberry and ivory-colored wallpaper.
“The existing chandelier pendant above the table was a must-have, as Betsy loves a little glamour and bling,” smiled Debbie.
The new sunroom is just a step down from the hearth room and inspires its owners with all new furniture, an added skylight, and a fountain.
In the hearth room, Debbie had the bookcases and an entertainment center removed, adding a lower level window adjacent to the fireplace. The old oak walls were updated with a fresh coat of paint to complement the new rugs, furniture and the pendant light. Two-story custom drapes add to the effect.
The library enjoys a new coat of paint, new tile around the fireplace and updated hardware on the cabinets, as well as some new furniture and older furniture simply recovered. The windows were also opened up to allow for more light to enter the room. (And the chicken standing just outside the library is actually a foot stool and is one of two such chicken footstools that adds conversation to the home.)
The main changes within the master suite, also located on the main floor, include elegant touches to the bathroom. Debbie replaced the former large mirror with three smaller ones, setting them apart and balancing them with sconces. She also repainted the cabinets a tranquil white and added an ottoman and vanity chair. In the master bedroom itself, Debbie repainted, added wallpaper in the vanity area, replaced all the furniture and light fixtures, had the fireplace hearth refinished, replaced the windows, installed new custom draperies, replaced the carpeting, cabinet hardware and the beverage station sink.
They’re Not Counting Their Chickens Before They Hatch, They’re Just Enjoying the Present.
Further down the metaphorical road, Betsy and Jim anticipate remodeling the upper level of the main house, but for now will savor every moment in the updated spaces they have. Betsy admits she loves the master bedroom, referring to it as her “hibernating place.” Jim enjoys his morning coffee in the sunroom and then retreats to the library in the evening to savor a cocktail and admire the sunset.
“We love it,” expressed Betsy. “Every piece is comfortable and usable. We are just so tickled with it.” Jim wholeheartedly concurred, “It’s a great place to come home to.”
- Interior Designer: Alliscalm Interiors
- Furniture: A&M Home Furnishings
- Chicken Fotstool Artist: The City Girl Farm
- Custom Cabinetry: Helm Improvement
- General Construction: Urban Renovation
- Electrical/Handyman: Rick Kirkham
- Windows: Precision Windows
- Hardwood Flooring: Vaz Hardwood Floors
- Painting: Fritz Painting
- Specialty Painting: Divine Painting
- Wallpaper Installation: Gary W. Mosby Wallcovering Installation
- Countertops: Premier Surfaces
- Re-Upholstery: Forte Design & Upholstery
- Custom Drapes: Sew Divine
- Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery
- Cabinets Pulls & Knobs: Locks & Pulls, Restoration Hardware
- Lighting: Restoration Hardware, Arhaus
- Area Rugs: Pottery Barn
- Master Bedroom Bedding: Restoration Hardware
- Plants: Family Tree Nursery