A Sprawling Midcentury Leawood Ranch is Transformed Into an Artist’s Haven

In the living room, blue dominates in the art, the velvet-upholstered and chrome Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams chairs, and the pillows. A Jeff Koons sculpture and the brass lampshade add a touch of shine. All photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

“Work from home” usually conjures up a dull home office. Not so with artist and designer Brady Legler, who works part of the time in New York City and part of the time in Leawood.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Legler was living in a 20-story building in New York City’s Koreatown, near the Flatiron Building.

“We were in lockdown. Everything came to a stop. It was surreal,” he says. “I had to get out.”

And so, he did. Back home in Kansas City, Legler found a 1959 Leawood ranch, quite by accident. “It was in proximity to both my parents’ homes, and I first thought of it as an investment,” he says.

Left: In one corner of the dining room, a painting by Lily Madden hangs above the Marcello Pozzi table. Right: Homeowner Brady Legler with one of his paintings and a miniature yellow cab as a reminder of his New York City life.

But as interior designer and family friend Doug Wells of Wells Design Studio, who had worked on both Bob and Shelly Legler’s homes, got involved, “I could envision it for today’s living,” says Wells. So, walls came down, long hallways eliminated, dinky rooms enlarged, and a primary bedroom suite created with a large and luxurious bath. Wells’s team guided the home’s design from investment to haven, studio, and investment.

“Brady has very eclectic taste,” says Wells, “so we kept the space open and airy so his art and furniture could stand out. I worked with the architecture already in the house but made it work better.”

An early Brady Legler painting is placed above a midcentury credenza that Bob Legler scouted at an estate sale. CB2 dining chairs custom upholstered in black boucle surround the glass-top table. The brass and acrylic pendant is from Wilson Lighting. The mannequin sports a spectacular Legler-designed necklace.

One of the through-lines appearing in each room is the color blue, which has a deep, personal meaning for Legler. “My dad was diagnosed with a rare thyroid cancer in 2003 and given only weeks to live. A neighbor suggested we imagine blue, the color of healing,” Legler says. “We have done that all this time, and my dad is still with us.”

Blue turns up in Legler’s acrylic canvases and in his custom rug designs, but also in more surprising ways. A female mannequin was put out for the trash on the streets of New York. Legler brought it to an auto-body shop, and had it sprayed—you guessed it—blue. She now welcomes friends and family into the dining room.

Left: Back-painted glass creates a sleek backsplash against the quartersawn-oak cabinetry in the kitchen. Right: Just off the kitchen, more cabinetry, a second refrigerator, and open shelving make for an easy bar area

Easy-going and self-deprecating, Legler likes to “seed” his home with other touchstone objects that remind him of his journey. He started designing jewelry and selling it at Halls when he was still in high school at Barstow. One of his early paintings hangs in the hallway to the bedrooms. After he left school at KU and admittedly floundered a while—“I thought my life was going nowhere,” he confesses—he got a chance to interview with Parsons School of Design: The New School in New York City. He came home, put together a portfolio, and was accepted in product design. The work of his mentors and friends pops up here and there.

“My love for midcentury furniture was fostered by Evan Lobel of Lobel Modern in New York,” says Legler. “Evan started selling my paintings at his storefront and on 1st Dibs during my junior year at Parsons. Lobel Modern has become a critical resource for interior designers, architects, and collectors of 20th-century designers.”

In the front dining room, a tornado-shaped “50 Stack Table” by Marcello Pozzi adds interest to a corner. A painting by Lily Madden and a toy yellow cab add spots of color.

In a cozy sitting room, two vintage swivel chairs—estate sale finds—and a vintage coffee table are poised on a Brady Legler rug.

The hearth and media room, right off the kitchen, features a dark credenza by John Widdicomb.

Legler liked the gray-veined Brazilian quartz that Wells suggested for countertops on the quartersawn-oak cabinets in the kitchen—crafted by George Crosthwait—so much that they also created a round kitchen table from it.

“I don’t cook,” Legler admits, “but I have friends who do, so they just come in and take over,” hence the large, open kitchen and the long dining table in the front room.

Top: In the primary bedroom, the channel-backed bed is custom-made, as are the floating night table and silk curtains. The chrome and crystal table lamp is from Wilson Lighting. Bottom left: An expansive custom double vanity is topped by white Silestone. Bottom right: The vintage chrome chair, in its original fabric, was a local estate-sale find.

Off to the right, a hallway leads to Legler’s office, where he tends to his large, private clientele for his clean-lined, contemporary jewelry. A lounge area meant for listening to music is a “no Brady zone,” he jokes, with none of his work in evidence. A guest room in hushed shades of gray offers quiet luxury and a black-and-white photo Wired2Bloom by Shelly Legler.

But the biggest surprise is the large primary suite, a haven of havens also in restful gray, both in the upholstered headboard and the large marble tile in the bath. Quiet, subdued, spacious, and uncluttered, it boasts Wells’ signature custom Lucite knobs on closet doors and the best-use-of-space dictum in the large closet, where the washer and dryer are tucked away.

Left: A photograph by Shelly Legler dominates the guest bedroom. The chrome and glass lamps are vintage. Right: Interior designer Doug Wells.

As for the studio, Legler works in the basement where he can paint large canvases, do detail work on custom jewelry, and design signature rugs. The light and airy feeling of the home’s interior upstairs allows his imagination to spark in any room.

“It’s great to work with people who let you run free,” says designer Wells.

And it’s great to live in a home that lets you be you.

The It List

Brady Legler

Interior Design
Wells Design Studio

Wilson Lighting

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