A Sunset Hill Home’s Faded Colors, Worn Leather, and Layered Patterns Tell a Timeless Story

Left: The fireplace in Annie Zander’s office is engraved with the Latin for “I am happy with my lot.” Right: The home’s exterior, reminiscent of a French country villa, features rustic stone walls trimmed in brick and arched doors and windows. Photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

Ive just found the house of our dreams,” Annie Zander remembers telling her husband, Rick, about a 1931 brick and stone Italianate built into a hillside in Sunset Hill. But it was too expensive. Fourteen years later, the house came back on the market. Rain poured through the roof. But the founder of Peruvian Connection and her contractor/woodworker husband were thrilled. They bought it and got to work.

Thus began the process of creating a home of timeless appeal, where antiques and furniture and art move in and out—from a location shoot for Peruvian Connection’s catalog or one of their shops or from the company’s headquarters on the family farm in Tonganoxie. Likewise, design ideas from home have a way of influencing the company’s line of artisan wallpapers, bedding, and table linens. 

Top: Walls of French doors on either side of the primary bedroom lead out to the garden. The Thomas Moser pencil-post cherry-wood bed is dressed in a Magnolia duvet cover from Peruvian Connection’s new line of linens. Flowers by Beco Flowers. Bottom Left: The Louise Fenne painting, which used Peruvian Connection hand-crocheted belts as a hair ornament, hangs above a blue-painted chest that was discovered in an old train station. Bottom right: In a guest bathroom, a commodious free-standing tub sits in front of a pine armoire from a Michigan farmhouse and an antique painted screen.
Left: In the museum room, a French 19th-century settee is upholstered in a fabric that closely resembles the original fabric. Pillows wrapped in Peruvian textiles fill the red velvet sofa opposite. The 18th-century Italian cabinet holds treasures from the Zanders’ many trips to South America and Europe. Flowers from Beco Flowers. Right: French doors lead to the gardens outdoors from almost every room in the house.

Along the way, the Zanders enlisted the help of notable Kansas City antiquarians past and present, including Trish Headley of Nufangle, Gwen McClure of French by Design, Steve Rogers of Prize Antiques, and Christopher Filley and Rich Hoffman. “I like things that are broken, chipped, torn. I like a room that says everything has been there forever,” says Annie Zander.

Bella, the family puggle, also helps sniff out antiques and is the first to welcome grown daughters Jane and Balie when they visit. 

To make the old blend with the new, sometimes a bit of judicious woodworking was needed, and for this the couple called John Boyd. In what the Zanders refer to as “the museum room” on the ground floor, Boyd took an 18th-century Italian cabinet and invisibly enlarged it to create the display shelves on top and bookcase underneath, anchoring the back wall. The massive piece—a cabinet of curiosities—holds Zander’s design books, artifacts she brings back from her travels, and ceramics, such as the schoolgirls piece by Akio Takimori. An antique settee came from a buying trip to Lyon, France, to outfit the London store on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It didn’t work there, but it is newly resplendent in a rich brocade here.

Left: A glass display case filled with seashells that greets guests in the foyer is from Christopher Filley Antiques. Right: Bella, the Zanders’ puggle, sits on the staircase that leads from the ground floor to the main floor. The three panels of fabric surrounded by roe antlers were handwoven by the Shipibo Indian tribe from Pucallpa, Peru, in the Amazon rainforest.

A framed remnant of colonial wallpaper Zander peeled off a wall in an old house in Cuzco, Peru, set the home’s color palette—yellow, blue, and red, faded and tinged with burnt umber.  “Soulful colors,” she explains. “Colors that say ‘somebody has been smoking in that room for 50 years’.”

When the museum room’s cabinet/bookcase needed Old World paint and peeling gilt to match the original, they called specialist painter Michael Jeran, who also antiqued the pine paneling in the sunroom. He stenciled Annie Zander’s ground floor office with a pale blue pattern from an old Prague monastery, one of the off-the-beaten path catalog locations.

The stairs to the second floor are lined with roe antlers, some from the Black Forest, others from eBay. “I get obsessed with them,” she confesses.

The Zanders removed the can lights and added beams in the dining room. They also made the fireplace more of a focal point. “I found the Federal mantel in a junkyard in Philly,” she says, and with the magic of Boyd and Jeran, it looks like it has always been there. The colonial silver candlesticks from Peru sitting on the dining table are from Zamder’s late mother, Biddy, who founded Peruvian Connection with her daughter in 1976.  

The open kitchen, with thick pine beams and a window reminiscent of a Spanish galleon, has plenty of room for Rick Zander, the gourmet cook, to work. 

The kitchen, part of an addition to the original house, is dominated by a massive window that makes the room feel like a treehouse. Apples on the countertop are from the family orchard.


The sunroom functions as a family room with crackled leather furniture, a red spoon chair, and an Italian chandelier. Here and throughout the house hang works by John Douglas Patrick, an artist who taught at the Kansas City Art Institute. His painting Brutality is in the Nelson-Atkins’ collection.  Zander had Dolphin Frames mount these paintings in an unusual way—each canvas, curling with age, is not stretched tight but more loosely attached to a larger backing.

Creativity zips and zings from past to present, there to here, making surprising connections. Two belts woven by a female artisan in Lima, Peru, were sold in the London store to the sister of a Danish artist. They became headbands immortalized in an oil on linen painting by Louise Fenne, Girl and Her Parrot No. 2, bought from a Charlotte, North Carolina, gallery; it now hangs in the Zanders’ bedroom.  

“I just had to have it,” she says.

The painting, the house—and everything in it.   

In Annie and Rick Zander’s sunroom, a sable antelope mount found at Antiquities and Oddities surveys the room from his perch above the fireplace.

The It List

Fine Arts Painter
Jeran Specialty Painting, LLC

Beco Flowers

John Boyd Woodworks

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