New event space offers nostalgic, shabby chic charm

05/20/2014 3:07 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Stepping back in time is sweet at the Vintage House.

Located in downtown Overland Park, the Vintage House is a throwback to the days before dishwashers, cable TV and products beginning with the letter “i.” The homey home-turned-event-space is owned by a mother/daughter duo dedicated to preserving the home’s authentic feel while sharing its sweetness with others.

Marilyn Gash bought the Vintage House, at 7612 W. 80th St., after her husband died in 1991. The former country girl wanted a fresh start and an address closer to her children in the metro area without moving in with them.

“I secretly started looking at real estate,” said Gash, a great-grandmother in her 80s who admits to antique hunting on an ongoing basis. “I found this house and thought, ‘Now this is a family house.’”

After her purchase, Gash gathered her sons and put them to work to revitalize the home and make it her own.

First things first: out with the fluorescent lights, Gash said. Getting rid of crumbling paint, dark paneling and low ceilings was next on her list. Fresh coats of color and family furnishings made Gash feel at home in the two-bedroom, one-bath space as she continued to comb the Kansas countryside for all things shabby chic with daughter Lauri Meyers, the Vintage House co-owner.

“Lauri and I always got along like that,” Gash said. “We have the same taste when we buy things, and Lauri just always had this vision.”

“I guess she likes me,” Meyers said with a laugh. Gash now lives with Meyers and her husband, Brian, in another Overland Park neighborhood.

Both artists in their own repurposed right, Meyers and Gash began to have garage sales to showcase and sell their vintage wares, painted furniture and artwork. When Gash moved in with Meyers, the duo discussed hosting their regular sales at Gash’s former residence. They loved the home and used it for family gatherings, but they had a feeling it could be used for more.

“We started sharing our space with more and more friends who loved the space, and we thought, ‘Bingo, this is our business,’” Meyers said.

“Have you heard our famous tagline?” Gash said. “People all come in and say, ‘I just want to live here.’”

A lot of folks have lived in the home. It is touted as being one of the first homes built by William B. Strang Jr., the man credited with founding Overland Park. The lot itself was rumored to have been sold to Strang’s employees for $125 in the early 1900s, when the home was built along with two adjacent houses that are similar in appearance.

The cottage-like exterior of the current home, with a welcoming front porch, center walkway, poppy red front door and white picket fence added by Gash, is reminiscent of the Strang era, making a walk up the front stairs somewhat sentimental, yet stylish. Gash and Meyers recently outfitted the porch for spring using sheer white curtains, an antique crib turned couch, small tables draped in white linens and an array of old birdhouses.

The pebble driveway at the side of the home has an arbor and lends itself to becoming an outdoor oasis for friends and family to gather for weddings, rehearsal dinners, showers and birthday parties.

Meyers found turquoise patio umbrellas on sale at Gordman’s and said the driveway is ever-evolving to accommodate different events. Meyers and Gash are working with a contractor to replace the pebbles with flagstone very soon on the driveway, also known as the garden courtyard.

They plan to add a back deck that will accommodate more folks for outdoor events. The house will continue to be equipped with anything and everything needed for entertaining, Meyers said. The only things guests or hosts should bring are “food, drinks and fun.”

“We’re not planning to make any changes that will take away the vintage vibe of the space. Sadly for some, we’re not adding a dishwasher, and we aren’t adding an outhouse. We aren’t that vintage,” Meyers said, laughing.

The home has a small second level that boasts two modest bedrooms and a tiny hall closet. The rooms are rarely used, since overnight stays aren’t allowed at the Vintage House. However, they are available for brides and grooms who need a place to pretty up and prepare on their big day.

Mother of the bride Karen Ofill and daughter Kate used one of the rooms last August as Kate dressed up to tie the knot with Devin Ellington in the garden courtyard. Ellington got ready in another room, where Ofill said she saw a glimpse of his service uniform lying neatly on the bed. That’s when Ofill said she knew she was in the right place for such an intimate and special gathering.

“Devin had never even been to a wedding, and Kate wanted a small wedding,” Ofill said. “The Vintage House was perfect for them, a gorgeous space, but part of the charm is Lauri and her mother and how they worked with us to make it all come together.”

Ofill joked that she would take Meyers as her only sister any day after she stepped in for support during a last-minute date change.

“Lauri was mother of the bride Part 2 with the way she handled things to help us, and the joy that she got in sharing in our event was amazing,” said Ofill, who described Meyers as having a huge heart for her clients.

The photos from Kate and Devin’s wedding at the Vintage House feature a smiling couple and a beaming crowd of friends and family. Ofill is shown smiling through her tears.

“I looked over at Lauri during the wedding when I was a blubbery mess, and she was weepy too,” Ofill said. “You just don’t want to leave this place. You just want to sit on that front porch with a glass of iced tea and watch the world go by.”

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