House & Home

Experience bright, open, ‘Fixer Upper’-style living at Spring Parade of Homes

The kitchen in Don Julian Builders’ Glendale II model home has “Fixer Upper” style features, such as big windows to let in natural light, light-colored cabinets, a big island and industrial-style lighting.
The kitchen in Don Julian Builders’ Glendale II model home has “Fixer Upper” style features, such as big windows to let in natural light, light-colored cabinets, a big island and industrial-style lighting.

It’s hard to imagine Don Julian and Gerry Starr sitting around watching Chip and Joanna Gaines rehab houses on HGTV’s wildly popular “Fixer Upper.”

But if you see their model houses on the Spring Parade of Homes by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City (April 22-May 7), you might think the two local homebuilders were channeling the Waco couple.

Each of their homes had such Joannaesque features as shiplap walls, raw wood ceilings and walls, exposed beams, open floor plans and huge windows for natural light.

There are also two-tone kitchen cabinets, farmhouse kitchen sinks, open upper cabinets or shelving, huge kitchen islands covered in Carrara marble or black granite, industrial- and farm-style lighting, mudrooms with cubbyholes and locker space for family members, white subway tile in bathrooms, and large, frameless glass walk-in showers.

Other trends include elaborate outdoor living spaces and amenities for entertaining, such as additional food prep areas or full galley kitchens as well as wine bars and full wet bars. Reverse living plans are also popular. They flip the traditional two-story floor plan so that the kitchen, dining, living room and master suite are on the main level, while additional bedrooms and family rooms are on a lower level in a walkout basement.

Both Don Julian Builders and Starr Homes work with interior designers and consult with other builders to learn what’s trending.

“We take a lot of trips, two each year, where we go to different big cities where we have relationships with different builders to see what’s happening in floor plans and building science and technology,” says Starr, president of Starr Homes. “We are in a constant process to stay one step ahead of where others are.”

Both builders say one universal trend is that clients want homes that are lighter and brighter.

“It’s like a new beginning after the recession,” Julian says as he leads me on a tour of the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath Glendale II model in the Overland Ridge subdivision in Kansas City, North. He points to a huge window over the kitchen sink that looks out on the backyard.

The natural light is amplified by pale gray kitchen cabinets and tile that stretches from the counter to the ceiling in spots. The home has an open floor plan so that the kitchen’s large island separates it from the living room, which opens onto a dining room at the front of the house. A small but bright office is tucked behind the kitchen, and there is a mudroom nearby.

The master suite includes a bedroom with a vaulted ceiling, a bathroom with a coffee bar, a frameless glass walk-in shower and stand-alone tub. A small workout room adjoins the bathroom.

The stand-alone tubs are particularly popular, if not practical.

“I had one client who said, ‘This (bathtub) looks really cool, and I’m not going to use it anyway so let’s put this in.’ ” Julian said.

Julian built a huge master closet behind the bathroom with a zigzag entry so that you can’t see into the closet from the bathroom even though there’s no door.

The 2,700-square-foot Glendale II model is listed at $454,900.

Starr gave me a tour of a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath model home in the Lakewood subdivision in Lee’s Summit that Starr Homes had just designed and built. It feels like an elegant farmhouse designed for entertaining.

The 4,823-square-foot, energy-efficient home has a reverse living plan, with a kitchen, dining room, wine bar, great room, music room, mudroom, office, powder room and master suite on the first floor. Folding French doors in the dining room open onto a large covered lanai with a wood-burning fireplace.

The walk-out lower level has a combination media/game room with a formal wet bar surrounded by three bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

One thing clients are asking for, Starr says, is a separate food prep area so that the main kitchen stays clean during parties. And while not all Starr homes have a kitchen with white or light gray cabinets, many do.

“We started doing that about six or seven years ago, and people thought we were nuts,” Starr says. “We were at the cutting edge of that. Now everyone wants lighter and brighter.”

He also pointed to other popular features such as the Carrara marble backsplash, brass light fixtures and hardware in the kitchen; the farmhouse sink in the kitchen; the rustic beams and double-sided floor-to-ceiling fireplace covered in stone in the great room; the rustic wood covering a wall on the lanai and on the ceilings in the master bedroom and study as well as on the backsplashes of the main level wine bar and lower level bar.

Starr chose the lot in the Lakewood area for its sloping grade, which was perfect for a reversed living plan and for its trees. They can be seen from nearly every room in the house, including those in the walkout basement.

The home is listed at $1,169,266.

Spring Parade of Homes

You can tour 381 open houses, priced from $166,900-$1,595,000, from 11 a.m to 6 p.m April 22 to May 7. The free event is hosted by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. Parade guide books are available at the association (Interstate 435 & Holmes) and at all parade homes. You can also get a map online at