Interior Designer Doug Wells Reimagines a Classic Leawood Ranch

In the living room, the custom faux shagreen-upholstered ottoman, designed by Wells, is bordered by a Jonathan Louis sectional from NFM Design Studio and two leather club chairs. All photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

Fortunately for Gloria Rudd, when she made the decision to purchase her new home in Old Leawood, her friend and designer, Doug Wells, was at the ready. The house sits on a quiet street with mature trees, and while it has wonderful light, it needed to be updated. Wells has a gift for seeing the opportunities in shifting existing space, and an easy sense of humor to make a homeowner believe they are having fun as the walls come down. 

He had done some small projects for Rudd before, but this was their first complete renovation.

“Doug has this incredible brain that can look at a space and see something else immediately, with different walls—or with no walls!” Rudd says.

Wells says it comes naturally. “It’s fun for me because it’s like a puzzle, and I know the answer is in there.”

Left: A vintage ’50s lamp shares space with the bar atop an industrial-style cabinet. Right: Doug Wells and Gloria Rudd. Rudd is an orchid whisperer; the orchids seen throughout her home are her own.

One of their top priorities was reimagining the kitchen because she loves to cook and entertain. “We really needed the space,” Rudd says. “There were hallways and a wet bar, and if you opened the oven doors, your backside would touch the cabinet.” 

Left: The kitchen is the hub of the house. Hexagonal picket tile is installed horizontally as a backsplash behind the Thermador appliances from Factory Direct Appliance. Chrome and palisander-wood bar stools pull up to the Caesarstone-topped island. Right: Saarinen executive dining chairs upholstered in wool suiting fabric surround a marble-topped table in the breakfast area. Brady Legler painting.

For a woman who loves to entertain—she of the mythical kegger at her house following the game that clinched the Kansas City Royals going to the World Series—the kitchen needed to make more sense. “I wanted people to be in the kitchen and congregate around the island, because that’s what people like to do,” Rudd says. “But I wanted to be able to see people in the living room at the same time.”

Now the kitchen has a wide island and comfy bar stools for keeping the cook company. A chic bar nearby attracts guests, not only to quench their thirst, but also to admire the art that surrounds it.  The room opens beyond that to a relaxed seating area that feels cozy and spacious at the same time. Stained wood beams provide a graphic outline of the vaulted ceiling. 

The dining room, overlooking the shady, landscaped front lawn, stands at the ready for guests. Chairs upholstered in cut velvet provide a luxurious balance to the glass table and graphic contemporary light fixture. 

In the dining room, the glass-topped table is surrounded by cut-velvet upholstered Hickory chairs. Roland Renaud oil-on-canvas Man Painting Race Car.

A bright and relaxed Florida room, which is glass on three sides, is nestled in the trees on the back of the house, creating a feeling of being outside and protected at the same time. While the garden beyond appears full and mature, Rudd and Wells are already planning their next steps to make the space an extension of the house for outdoor entertaining.

Dolly, Rudd’s adopted doggo, poses prettily on the Crate and Barrel sofa amongst the custom Kravet ikat pillows in the Florida room.

In addition to reimagining the public spaces, Wells and Rudd put their heads together for a major reconfiguration of the primary bedroom and bath. Taking advantage of a tight guest bedroom, the pair decided to annex that space to create a more gracious primary bath and closet. “I wanted a nice bedroom, but mostly a bigger closet and really pretty bathroom,” Rudd says. 

Left: In the primary closet, a brass and blue-velvet channel-tufted bench is topped by a crystal chandelier that was Rudd’s first purchase when she married and had previously hung in the dining rooms of all her previous homes. Right: Soft, golden hex-patterned wallcovering in the powder room.

Wells made her dreams come true. To say the closet is “bigger,” is an understatement. With dark wood fittings and a crystal chandelier, the room is spacious and elegant as well as functional. The bathroom, with its dove-gray cabinets and marble countertops is a chic and soothing spot to begin and end the day. 

While Wells and Rudd had carefully met her needs for day-to-day living, the conundrum of additional bedroom space remained. “We are a close family,” she says. “I have one child in town and the other not. When we all get together, if we couldn’t all stay together it would hurt my heart. I can’t do it.”

Left: The dark gray velvet-upholstered custom bed in the primary bedroom is dressed in linens from Terrasi Home and Scandia Down. Uttermost lamps flanking the bed are from Madden-McFarland. Right: A gray lacquered double vanity topped with Carrara marble dominates the art-filled primary bath.

Wells was committed to making the home that Rudd both wanted and needed. To accommodate her out-of-town family, he created a comfortable living space in the basement. Former window wells were constructed to provide proper egress. A new kitchenette allows everyone to have coffee or a snack if they need it, and a game table accommodates a lively crowd. Her collection of her son, Paul’s, movie posters fills the wall. 

One wall of the lower level showcases posters and memorabilia from Rudd’s son, Paul’s, performances.

Having all her children at home are the times that she enjoys the most.

“We never have a proper time frame, it’s disorganized and sometimes messy,” Rudd says. “But there’s lots of food and fun. There’s something about everyone here under my roof that’s just right.” 

Top: Pink hydrangea and hosta fill a shady spot in the garden. Bottom: Several seating areas in the garden are delineated by levels and purpose. The dining area is bordered by a massive Japanese maple, while a lower level firepit is surrounded by comfy seating.

The It List

Interior Design
Wells Design Studio

Factory Direct Appliance

Forte Design and Upholstery