Amie and Mike Shull loved their Prairie Village neighborhood. It was the perfect spot for them and their three children, but more than four years ago they were ready to make a move. Their radars were up, but the right house eluded them. Sometimes a seemingly perfect house would have a “sold” sign up before the couple even knew it was for sale.
“Then one day I was running down this street,” remembers Amie Shull. “And there was an estate-sale sign in the yard. I called my husband and said, ‘You need to get over here.’”
What Shull, who is an interior designer, could see was good bones and big potential. The midcentury modern with its pitched entry and carved, double front doors, had been well-cared for, but not updated. This meant that many of the original design elements were still in place.
As the couple walked through the estate sale, they noticed that the floors of the entry and the double doors were walnut. The original Louis Poulsen Artichoke pendant hung overhead. Still, the house needed serious updating.
“We tackled the renovation in three stages,” says Shull of the rambling ranch. The couple approached the basement, where their twin boys’ bedrooms and casual living space would be, and the north end of the house, which would hold the master bedroom and their daughter’s bedroom, first.
Once the first phase was complete, they were able to set up a temporary kitchen in the basement so that they could begin the kitchen and living room updates on the main floor. The delay in renovating the kitchen and living room allowed the Shulls better perspective of how the house would work for them.
“We really thought we would expand the kitchen,” says Shull. “But when we used the old kitchen as we were finishing the basement, I realized we didn’t need more square footage.”
Instead, the couple decided to move a wall and open up the living room and dining room. With the height of the pitched ceiling, the first floor becomes almost loft-like.
Shull was committed to keeping as many of the original elements of the house as made sense. She had already fallen in love with the walnut floors and built-in planter in the entry; they were keepers.
The walnut-paneled wall in the den with its unexpected slant provides depth to a room rich in color and texture. The remaining den walls are painted a deeper turquoise than the house would have known from its original era. Brass and chrome add sparkle while ethnic-inspired fabrics deliver complexity.
In addition, Shull was lucky that she could use most of the original overhead lighting in the house. Along with the Poulsen pendant in the entry, the den’s fixture is original. Some of the lights did find themselves in new rooms.
After much consideration she decided to keep the teak parquet of the first floor. “Each piece was laid by hand. I just couldn’t rip it out,” she says. Linear sofas and the bold geometric pillows and rug run no risk of overwhelming in the double height room.
There were nondescript decorative beams in the living room that were not difficult to do without. The painted brick of the fireplace adds texture and delineates the living and dining room, which is further defined by its graphic black-and-white palm-print wallpaper. The shelves along the dining room wall were made from birch trees that were removed from the backyard to make way for a new patio.
Shull designed a tile transition between the old floor and the new one in the kitchen. “I just didn’t want to use another wood,” she says.
Created within the existing footprint, this contemporary kitchen is right at home in its modern house. Walnut cabinets that also front the refrigerator and a sleek island are enhanced by the crisp Cambria quartz countertops. The long picture window reflects the home’s origins and offers subtle natural light and a gracious view of the backyard.
As is not always the case, the family’s private rooms received the same attention as the public spaces. In the master bedroom the couple wanted to take advantage of the raised ceilings.
“There are some crazy angles here,” remembers Shull. “But we just went with it and dry-walled everything.”
The crisp black-and-white palette of the spa-like bath is a welcoming oasis. The serenity here is a contrast to their daughter’s bold lilac room with bursts of fuchsia.
Now that everything is in place, Shull is certain that the mess and noise of living through a renovation were worth it.
“We really don’t mind a project,” she says. “Looking back now it seems like everything happened so fast.”
The It List
Interior Design: L Street Designs, 913-238-0613
Flowers: Randy Neal Floral Design, randynealfloral.com
Contractor: Allen Building Specialties, allenbuildingspecialties.com
Ren Sen Sensational Tour
The 14th annual Renovation Sensation Tour, which benefits the Shawnee Mission East SHARE program, this year features three stunningly renovated Mission Hills and Prairie Village homes, including the Shulls, plus a Leawood transitional new-build with cutting-edge features. For more information, visit smeastshare.com