When Jen Anton bought her house in the fall of 2017, it was fine. There was nothing wrong with the brick ranch off Ward Parkway — but there was nothing special about it, either.
Back then, the 33-year-old was moving back to Kansas City after 13 years in Chicago. She had envisioned a two-story house with the architectural grandeur of a sweeping central staircase, but after an accident left her with a bad hip, she came to appreciate the ease of single-level living. She sent her mom to check out the real estate listing after seeing photos online.
Jen admits she didn’t immediately love the brick ranch.
“It was very brown and didn’t have much character,” she remembers. But with her background in art and graphic design, she wasn’t deterred by its lack of charm.
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“It didn’t have to look pretty, it didn’t have to make sense,” Jen says. “I looked beyond at what it could be — I saw its potential.”
That was, namely, a large backyard with room for additions to make the space her own. Her vision included updating the existing 1,900 square feet and blowing out the entire back of the house for not just one but four additions, including a vaulted family room and vaulted master bedroom with a courtyard in the center, an enlarged kitchen, and a mudroom/hallway connecting a garage entry at the rear of the house.
During her time in Chicago, Jen had redesigned a condo and enjoyed the experience so much that she knew she wanted another project. For the extensive nature of a whole-house remodel, she needed turn-key design/build professionals.
Family friend Jake Schloegel of Schloegel Design Remodel introduced Jen to up with designer Megan Bringman, who incidentally had remodeled a bath in the house two years prior for a family with a special-needs child.
Knowing the house already and understanding Jen’s desire for a light-filled entertaining space, Megan designed a concept that transformed the look and feel of the ranch into something much greater.
“Top to bottom, we touched every square inch,” Megan says. “We basically salvaged a foundation.”
Well, one other thing was saved: “I kept the doorbell because it’s white and brass,” Jen notes.
She could have started from scratch with a new build elsewhere, but Jen liked the neighborhood and location, not far from where she grew up. Moreover, she liked the challenge of tinkering with the layout.
A large kitchen was the biggest prize, with a massive quartz-covered island, high-end appliances and more storage than the team had initially planned. Before cabinet installation, it was discovered that the field measurements were off about a foot — in a good way.
“We found an oopsie, but it was fun to tell her, ‘It’s on us, what do you want to do?’ I was so glad it wasn’t the other way around!” Megan says.
They added more cabinetry to the base run, made the hood larger and Jen got bonus walkway space around the island, which was ideal for her first hosting of her first Thanksgiving last fall.
Making every room open and functional was a top priority. Megan and Jen added several built-ins —some for display, some to hide things away. Everything was considered for convenience for Jen as a single woman, as well as for whoever will live in the house in the future.
“This space makes sense for me now, but it’s also a house I can grow into, and when it comes time to sell it, buyers will find that it’s not so specific to me; it’s functional and smart.”
It’s also on-trend.
“Jen is trendy —that was one of the most fun parts about this process,” Megan says.
Jen describes her style as Modern Classic, with a blend of traditional elements and clean-lined accessories. She added crown molding and bigger baseboards to existing rooms, along with wainscoting in key spaces where some interest was needed. And lighting — lots of brass lighting.
“I love light, in general, and I kept adding more sconces,” says Jen, who bought most of her fixtures from Circa Lighting.
She replaced the original hardwood floors with wide-plank engineered white oak that has a weathered, casual feel, and furnished the rooms with slipcovered and neutral pieces. A few acrylic accents nod to Jen’s modern side.
Finding the perfect shade of white for the walls was a big deal. Megan and Jen tested six versions on the walls, which, to the untrained eye, all looked the same, but undesirable undertones hovered beneath most of them. Finally, Benjamin Moore’s Cloud Cover went on the walls and White Dove on the trim.
“I can easily add onto this neutral base with plants and pillows,” Jen says.
She likes a high/low mix of decor, with items ranging from stores such as shopped from Target and Ikea to Restoration Hardware, West Elm and Anthropologie. While most of her belongings moved with her from her condo and found placement here, Jen recognizes that her tastes have evolved considerably in a few short years.
“I used to love tons of color, and wear tons of color, but as I age, I want peaceful spaces that feel calm and comforting,” she says. “My condo was more sleek and feminine. With the house, I wanted it to be more neutral.”
Being so self-aware made Jen an ideal partner for Megan, who didn’t have to do much hand-holding or convincing.
“She has such a strong design sense that we were able to bounce ideas off each other; It felt like working with another designer,” Megan says. “And she maybe changed her mind two times in the whole process.”
“I’m a very visual person,” adds Jen, who created her own mood boards in Photoshop and published them in a personal coffee table book with before and after photos to showcase the entire project. “Even mid-construction, I could see it finished in my mind.”
That’s not to say making decisions was always easy.
“It was overwhelming at times because this is permanent. Even though I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to do it right,” Jen says.
Megan assures her that all the research and spreadsheets were worth it.
“It turned out amazing,” Megan says.