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Ask a designer: Jan Kyle splits her time and her style between Kansas City and Florida

Jan Kyle designed this light and bright Palm Beach home.
Jan Kyle designed this light and bright Palm Beach home.

Westwood-based designer Jan Kyle has the best of both worlds.

In the winter, she flies south to her second residence in West Palm Beach, Florida. From there, she can serve her loyal clients in Kansas City and in the Sunshine State. Besides a walk to the ocean, Kyle most enjoys creating classic-modern, serene and sophisticated interiors for homeowners who know themselves, are decisive and enjoy the journey, but just can’t make their vision happen on their own.

Kansas Citians flock to Florida for spring break, but you get to live there anytime you want. How do you split your time between the two places?

Back in 2003, I told my husband, Wayne Hunthausen, that I really felt I was suffering from seasonal affective disorder, and thankfully, he heard me. I feel like a Floridian because I came down with my family every year growing up. Wayne and I used to live in Coral Gables near Miami, but now prefer the Palm Beaches. There’s so much culture and beauty here.

We bought in a new West Palm Beach condo building in ’05, but there were hurricane delays, and we couldn’t move in for over a year. Fast forward to ’13, and we bought in another building we love because of its close proximity to the (Royal Park) middle bridge over to Palm Beach. We are back and forth from Kansas City all winter season, and I’m here in Florida more if I’m working on a design project. I’m able to accommodate all my clients pretty seamlessly, and some have even come down to Florida to source with me.

What, if any, differences are there in the way you design for a client in Florida vs. one in Kansas City?

It’s always about the client and their particular needs and desires, no matter where. But I like clean-lined spaces, whatever the genre, although the mix is what’s important. In Florida, there’s more interest in blues and shades of whites — off-white, ivory, soft gray — as they evoke the water and the billowy clouds over the ocean.

The Palm Beaches strike me as a colorful place, yet your previous work in Kansas City also shows a lot of pops of color — blue, chartreuse, orange. What is your perspective on how to use color?

An effective and economical way to use color in KC or any location is to keep most of your upholstery pieces neutral, but accent with color in your accessories. This allows for easy changes if you later choose different accent colors. That said, it’s exciting to have certain pieces upholstered in bold pattern and color and to use wallpaper. It all relates to what you are drawn to personally. For instance, I have a neutral sofa and walls in my Kansas City hearth room, but my two club chairs there are in a snazzy chartreuse, as are my accent walls flanking the fireplace. That brilliant, happy color never fails to lift my spirit. In contrast, my Florida living room features beige upholstery accented with aqua and Hermes orange to reference sand, sea and sun.

You have described yourself as current yet never trendy and prefer a look that’s collected over time — can you explain how these ideas work together?

I believe that juxtaposing older pieces with new creates a dynamic tension that makes for good design. All-the-same, matchy look just isn’t as interesting, and a look that’s totally trendy will soon age and look dated.

Looking back at your canon of work, what makes you feel the most proud?

Bringing clients’ desires to life. It’s been wonderful dealing with people with different visions and, thus, working in those different aspects of myself.

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