From Traditional Country to Transitional: Leawood empty nesters transform their home

Doug and Janet Euston had lived in their Leawood home 25 years, raising their three sons there. With all but one high schooler now out of the house, the Eustons felt they could finally invest in some upgrades they had long put on hold.

“We love the neighborhood, love the location, but the house is 28 years old; it needed to be updated,” Janet says.

Not only did some walls showing evidence of rambunctious activity need to be patched up, but the couple had outgrown their Traditional Country style.

They had been through the design and construction process in past years to finish their basement and attic space, as well as add an outdoor living environment and make over their kitchen, but this was something more.

“We’ve done our projects, but this was the biggest,” Janet says.

The Eustons desired more openness and functionality out of their floor plan, especially in the back entry hall, as well as a sunroom addition.

“We had a wish list of things we wanted to do, and we just decided that we want to do it and enjoy it, and not just go room by room but go for it all at once,” Janet says.

To get started, they reached out to Arlene Ladegaard, owner of Design Connection, Inc., after identifying with her style they’d seen in magazines. Her transitionally inspired clean lines were just what the couple wanted for their home.

Arlene Ladegaard of Design Connection, Inc.
Judy Revenaugh

“It was much darker in here before, so our goal was to lighten it up,” Arlene says.

The kitchen was the No. 1 problem area, where builder-grade oak cabinets had been stained dark in a decade-old update. The Eustons were adamantly against a stark white kitchen, so Arlene steered them toward more neutral cream-colored cabinetry and a similar toned crackled subway tile backsplash.

They kept familiar, dark tones in the bar area, which replaced an unused desk, but brightened everything with lighting and added interest with mixed metals.

While the kitchen’s footprint stayed the same, Arlene reorganized the storage areas, adding counter space where a pull-out pantry had been, and moving goods and small appliances to a dedicated pantry room.

She made more tweaks to other areas, including closing up a wall between the office and family room to build in an entire wall of shelves for the couple’s book collection.

Addressing the dated materials meant examining every component of the house, from flooring to fixtures to furnishings and even the staircase’s newel posts. Modernized but not pigeonholed, Arlene kept to her motto: “Keep it timeless,” she says.

She brought in grasscloth for texture, linen window panels with no pattern for simplicity, and wool carpet cut for the stair runner for longevity.

Arlene did incorporate a few of the houses’ original pieces into the design, but most of the furnishings are new, in softer, brighter colors than what the Eustons previously had, and scale was a top priority.

“There was no way without Arlene I could have done this project,” Janet says. “I couldn’t have done the furniture placement; and I wouldn’t know how big of furnishings to get.”

The largest component of the entire project was the addition of a sunroom, as well as the subsequent upstairs addition, including a new laundry room and expanded master closet.

For that, they hired architect Bruce Wendlandt, who designed a seamless connection to the existing house.

“Structurally, we made big changes, but when you stand in the yard and look at the house, it doesn’t look at all like an addition,” Janet says.

Inside, the sunroom features a high ceiling covered in shiplap, plus plantation shutters and a French door that leads to an outdoor living area and babbling waterfall. Janet had always envisioned natural stone columns here, but as the project evolved, Arlene suggested carrying the stone across the top of the entry as well.

“It makes a huge difference and really sets the space apart,” Arlene says. “It adds texture but isn’t overwhelmingly rustic.”

Another place that only seemed to expand in square footage was a hearth room with a purposeless half wall at the end of the dining space.

“It was just this small little room we never, ever used,” Janet recalls. And it was packed with a sofa, two chairs and a coffee table. After decluttering, Arlene simply set up a pair of chairs facing into the room, instantly attracting everyone to it.

“Before, the fireplace was blocked; now we light it every morning,” Janet says.

That sentiment of a new and improved lifestyle follows the Eustons throughout the house. The flow and functionality has drastically improved, along with the calming and sophisticated aesthetics. With the renovations, the house has come into its own just as the couple transitions into a new era.

“I love how it’s so open and the colors are so soft,” Janet says. “It’s all so comfortable.”



Design Connection, Inc.


Wendlandt & Stallbaumer Architecture


Locks & Pulls


The Fiddly Fig