A Brookside Home is Transformed for the Holidays

In the living room of Lorraine and Leigh Elmore’s Brookside home, the Christmas tree is aglow with lights and the warm reds and cool blues of their vintage Czechoslovakian ornaments. All photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

Lorraine Colbert Elmore had a long career at Hallmark as a designer, photo stylist, art director, and studio manager. During her tenure she decorated a lot of Christmas trees, but it hasn’t soured her on the process. She and her husband, Leigh, still delight in dressing their home for the holidays. “I’ve decorated a lot of Christmas trees in my life,” she says. “As a photo stylist at Hallmark, three quarters of the year was devoted to Christmas.”

Now decorating their home in Brookside for the holiday may not take as long, but the Elmores certainly dedicate time and care to getting it right. Their classic style is restrained but features the perfect amount of gilt and glow.

One of the Elmores’ dogs, Justice, takes advantage of the rare opportunity to settle into the down cushion of the sofa. Classically framed prints from Parrin & Co. flank the window.

Lorraine Elmore has been collecting pre-1940’s Czechoslovakian Christmas ornaments for decades. “They’re beautiful, but they’re so interesting,” she says of the old-world, pink, turquoise, green, blue, and gold glass ornaments. “There’s Red Riding Hood, but also Joan of Arc. I still look for them, but I haven’t found any in a long time.”

The Elmores have lived in the home for 26 years. They’d had their eye on another house nearby but couldn’t commit. It was during the holidays and they decided to wait until after Christmas to decide. Driving by one evening to see if it was still available, they discovered a new house on the market. It became their current home.

“We saw this house and made an offer two days later,” Leigh says.

Left: Drawings by the late Daniel MacMorris, a local artist known for his murals, frame a window. Alabaster bowls are brimming with antique silver ornaments. Right: The front hall glitters and glows thanks to vintage marble lamps, crystal sconces, and the cutglass mirror.

It was love at first sight, and they’ve taken their time to make it their own in a way that doesn’t fight with the house’s original design. The center hall features a classic painted check on the floor and dramatic dark walls, with crystal sconces and a vintage mirror that lends a flash of sparkle.

The stunning, difficult-to-name blue of the living room provides the perfect background for their art and accessories, which often feature a dose of black and the gleam of gilt. The drawings flanking the front window in the living room are by the late Daniel MacMorris. Lorraine found the nude studies at Parrin & Co., which is one of her favorites spots to shop. MacMorris studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and painted several murals in town, including scenes of Kansas City at the downtown Kansas City Library, ceilings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the murals at the World War I museum.

In the dining room, the stunning mural was created by a local artist. The couple bought the chandelier from the long-shuttered Harzfeld’s department store downtown.

The mural on the dining room walls is a work of art itself. The chalky painting has the grace and movement of a fine damask. They had seen something similar commissioned by the local designer Marie Smith of MLB Designs.

“The artist drew the pattern on paper, then put little pinholes along the lines. Then he put the paper against the wall and blew chalk dust through the holes to create the pattern. It was amazing,” Lorraine says.

Left: The renovation of the kitchen allowed for space behind the sink that they refer to as “the winter garden.” Right: The update, with its crisp white cabinets, subway tile, and stainless pulls and appliances, work seamlessly with the age of the house.

She credits Smith for many of the smart and beautiful modifications she and Leigh have made on the home. Smith helped with their kitchen remodel. “Marie was great. She was able to redesign the kitchen without changing the footprint, but she made it much more functional,” Lorraine says.

Among other space-saving tweaks, Smith pulled the sink forward away from the wall and created counter space in front of the kitchen window. “I love this space!” Lorraine says. “It’s my winter garden. It was such a simple shift, but it makes a huge difference.”

Left: Mercury glass lamps provide a little sparkle, as do the seasonal snowflake pillows in the primary bedroom. Lorraine defines the color of the walls as “the color of a stormy ocean.” Right: The antique armoire holds the couple’s television.

Upstairs, the bedroom has received a recent update. “I just saw this new Sherwin Williams color and I had to have it,” she says. “I’m so glad I did. It’s so soothing.” She says she had no trouble going against the advice to not put your bed in front of a window. “If you live in this neighborhood, you know that it’s difficult to avoid. There are so many doors to work around!”

While they are still focused on making their home warm and welcoming, they both have outside pursuits keeping them busy. Lorraine is working on a catalog for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on the Starr Miniatures Collection and taking a botanical illustration class through the Denver Botanical Garden.

Left: The view from the breakfast room into the front hall. On the right, a collection of vintage gilt-and-velvet framed illustrations of the rules of grammar are gathered on a pale blue ribbon. Right: Crisp black accents, subway tile, and classic faucet and fittings create an updated bath that fits seamlessly in the Elmores’ older home.

“When I became interested, I had to wait for a weekend seminar,” she says. “But during the pandemic, the courses became available online, which is great!”

Leigh is equally busy with his work supporting the Rice-Tremonti Home, built in 1844 on the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails.

The pair plans to spend the holiday at home. “I usually make my Slovakian grandmother’s mushroom sauerkraut soup and kolaches, which you can fill with many things—honey, nuts, apricots,” Lorraine says.

The holidays are about tradition, after all.

The It List

Leigh and Lorraine’s Favorite Haunts

MLB Designs

Parrin & Co.
1717 West 45th Street

The Rice-Tremonti Home

Southern light floods the upstairs hall, where the photo gallery creates a physical Elmore family tree.