If you know the block of McGee Street where Susan and Sean Casserley live, there’s no need for a street number to find the home.
“Just look for the colorful house,” says Susan Casserley, who named the home Casa Alegre. And a happy home it is, splashed in bright shades of yellow and green with brilliant blue and red accents. Even the critters inside seem cheerful: Walk in, and you’ll be greeted by a couple of affectionate cats and a sweet Doberman pinscher who loves nothing more than a pat.
The three-bedroom bungalow was in great shape when the couple bought it two years ago. Inside, the walls — in shades like muted orange, teal and light purple — seemed a great backdrop to the couple’s eclectic art collection.
But the exterior needed a little help. So the retired computer analyst and her husband, director of the Johnson County Library system, got to work selecting a color palette. Susan Casserley took some time to talk about art, culture and the importance of a cheerful home.
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What drew you to the Southmoreland neighborhood and to this house?
We loved the proximity to the Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins, Westport and the little theaters, like the Unicorn. And the houses were reasonably priced. We also wanted to live somewhere with a diverse population. That’s important to us.
What inspired the cheerful colors on the exterior?
The Nutterville houses in Westport. (A group of office spaces James B. Nutter & Co. acquired, renovated and painted in bright colors.) And, of course, the Painted Ladies in San Francisco (Victorian and Edwardian homes painted in bright colors to accentuate architectural detailing.)
Did you do a lot of work to the interior?
No, it was in really great shape. I loved the big, open kitchen. We did put down the black-and-white (checkerboard) floor. What’s funny is that everything we did to the house, from the kitchen floor to the paint colors, we had to talk the person who was installing or painting into doing it the way we wanted. And once they saw the finished product, they agreed it turned out great.
How did you go about finding the colors for the exterior of the home?
Sherwin-Williams has a (tool) where you can mix and match colors. But mostly what we did was we got tons of samples of paint, or bought enough paint to cover a large square, and set them next to little strips of the accent colors and put them on the house. We put so many samples on our house that it looked like a Mondrian.
What was the most difficult part of finding the right combination?
The yellow, light green and the blue were easy, but it’s really hard to find the perfect shade of red.
If someone were inspired to copy the combination, how would they do so?
They’re all from Sherwin-Williams. The green is Dancing Green. The yellow is Butter Up. The blue is Down Pour. And the red — the perfect red — is Stop.
Any complaints from the neighbors about having a house that stands out?
No complaints at all. We wanted to live in a place where it’s OK to be quirky. We love our neighbors. We’ve heard nothing but good things. The person who loves it the most, though, is my 88-year-old mom. She lives in Fort Wayne, which is where we moved from and where we still own a place. We showed her pictures, and she fell in love with it. I wish she was still able to travel so she could see it in person.
Your home is filled with beautiful rugs and eclectic artwork. Where do you find some of your treasures?
My husband and I love to travel. We’re about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to Rome. One rug came from a trip I took to Turkey, others I found online. As for art, we’re lucky to have a lot of artistic friends. The artist who rents the bottom of our house in Fort Wayne uses the top floor for her studio and often pays us in artwork. Her name is Rebecca Stockert, and she is incredibly talented. What I look for is artwork that makes you think.
What do homes like yours, and the Nutter homes, add to the community?
I do Instagram, and I tag the things I see on my walks. There is so much all around here, from a great porch to a beautiful garden. I think homes like this help create an artistic feeling in a neighborhood.