Interior designer Audrey Hollander has renovated 18 homes since she moved to Kansas City from New Jersey in 1969. In addition to transforming residences in Romanelli Gardens, Leawood and Mission Hills, Hollander entirely redesigned the unit she shares with partner Sherry Rush in the Atriums, a condominium complex near the Country Club Plaza that was designed in the 1970s by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star
The space radiates the calmness, welcoming and intimacy that Hollander lists as her design goals. Her firms name is Home Image, 816-561-1876.
How did you get into interior design?
Early on, I was showing an investment property on Arno Road and a friend said, Youre creative. I had never used that word for myself, but I did do lots of education, taking classes in color, art and design in New Jersey, and later at UMKC and Johnson County Community College.
But really, its my intuition that governs what I do. For me, there are no rules, there are opinions. I think my greatest skill is I really listen to my clients. Listening is the most important thing. But I always advise people: Dont keep what you dont love. You want to create calmness.
Tell me about what you did in this place.
I moved here from a house in Westwood six years ago. It took nine months to redesign our unit. I changed every surface, except for the red tile in the dining room. I turned the atrium into a dining room.
Safdies design was an open concept. I added sliding glass doors to create an office for Sherry at the far end. I put in a Murphy bed for when the grandchildren come to stay.
Im into function and being practical, but I like a welcome feeling. We love to have casual evenings with people for a meal.
I installed rail/wire lighting by Tech. You dont get that heavy-focus shine, and the individual elements can be moved. It has a dimmer, one of the things that is important to me. I also installed motorized shades in a linen-like fabric in the slanted atrium ceiling. Its charming at night. You can open the shades and see the stars.
And the furnishings?
I designed the dining table with an ebony coffee finish. I also designed the benches around it and upholstered them in moss green cut velvet.
I do a lot of custom. Custom doesnt always mean more expensive. It means it fits you. And Im very much into repurposing, cutting things down. I did that with the rug in here, which has a subtle geometric pattern of purple, red and gold. It was an expensive commercial rug and its 20 years old.
You have a very distinctive color sense.
With clients I ask, Are we working around art or furniture?
In my living room, I knew Id be using this red sectional couch that I designed for my previous house. The chair was my grandmothers. I tend to stay away from trends, but I upholstered it in huge polka dots, which are popular right now. I love red.
It was hard to find carpet and wall color. I settled on a shade I call pastel mustard, and painted the walls and the woodwork the same color. I like monochrome, I like peace.
I designed the drapes in white suedecloth with huge grommets. I also used them in the dining room, where the walls are painted in a green suede gray.
In the kitchen we keyed off the 20-year-old almond-green refrigerator. Its the only thing we kept other than the layout. We painted the cupboards and put in pullouts all over. There was a narrow oven, so we put drawers in that space and added a Jenn-Air in a different spot.
We turned one tall cupboard into a pull-out pantry and created an appliance garage on the counter. The backsplash is glass brick. Again, its mostly monochrome. That hutch in the corner was oak that we repainted to match the cupboards. The floors are whitewashed oak, and we used a moss-colored, high-grade laminate with a beveled edge on the counters.
The contemporary grass green chairs are daring.
Theyre from Contract Furnishings. I also work a lot with Museo, when clients can afford it. They carry so many things, and theyre so helpful. I designed the table with a black top and metal legs. Thats an Allan Winkler piece on the wall.
You have a lot of artwork glass, sculpture, ceramics.
Ive always been a pottery collector. One of the finer pieces is that ewer with cups. It was made by Bonnie Seeman, an artist from Florida. You can see from the design that she was into water and coral.
The bedroom is huge.
Its a 28-foot room. I put in a 51/2-foot-tall closet as a room divider for another office, and the furniture is my mothers Italian provincial, which I repainted. Thats opaque film on the bottom of the window I love frosted glass. I like light.