Featured Homes

Anything but Ordinary

Keeping it simple yet sophisticated, Emily Eckles and husband, Matt, made her childhood home their own

Aware of its design potential, Emily Eckles took on the hefty task of redesigning the Prairie Village home she grew up in. With her mother’s blessing and a little design direction, they overhauled the family home, breaking down walls to improve the views, inside and out.

Knowing just what she wanted, or more so what she didn’t—the typical kitchen look—Eckles called in a friend. Designer Oliver Carter of Atlanta-based Neil/Carter Interior Design & Architecture was brought in to dream up a simple, symmetric space that functioned appropriately for the energetic family of five—who love to cook—and a slew of dinner guests. “He kept on pushing us, and I love the results,” she says. And it’s easy to see why.

Keeping the minimalist aesthetic in mind, soft white surfaces, like the Caeserstone counters and backsplash, call attention to gold accents and wood tones. Eckles gave up storage for a pair of large brass sconces, unique in a kitchen, on the Viking range wall. She gains it back, however, in a large butler’s pantry and additional storage compartments tucked behind armoire-style wood doors. A few other items can be stored in the expansive walnut island, the hub of dinner parties.

The custom bookshelves and hood treatment, designed by Carter, provide additional functional visuals, but it’s the deer head—decorated by all family members for the holidays—that puts the finishing touch on the Eckles’ own take on kitchen design. Like everything else, it serves its purpose tastefully and with flair.

Why it Works

1. Using every bit of the footprint—and doing it well—is an impressive feat. “It’s actually not that big, which is good for us,” Eckles says. “It’s just the perfect amount of space. Clutter drives me crazy, so there is essentially less countertop space to clutter.” In keeping with less is more, they conceal most of the pullout storage and shelving behind large armoire-style doors, one housing the refrigerator, the other a butler’s pantry. “What I didn’t end up having room for, I guess I didn’t really need after all.”

2. A space is only as good as its lighting. And this lighting gets gold stars. Dimmable Circa Lighting pendants provide a soft glow—and the right scale and simplicity for Eckles’ aesthetics—while the sconces flanking the range wall add ambient light. A little unusual for the space, the sconces are a pinch bigger than what you’d normally see, which is exactly why she loves them. When additional lighting is needed, they flip on the overhead cans.

3. Eckles is all about balance and equality. If you hadn’t noticed, “everything is symmetrical,” she says. “To me, it makes sense to have a sense of order in the layout and design of the kitchen.” If you split this room right down the middle, all the elements would mirror the other, from lighting to doors and bar stools to bookcases.

Get the Look

Pair black with brass—and, yes, wood tones—to bring a little boldness back into your life


1. Bring a furniture look to refrigeration, like with the integrated Thermador refrigerator and freezer units hidden by an armoire-style front available at Portfolio Kitchen & Home.


2. Unleash the brass with Hudson Valley’s Savona pendant. Found at Rensen House of Lights, the linen shade is delicate, and its metal cage handsome.

MIT_WoodTaxidermy_1_AL02173. Missouri artist Bill Dawson hand-carved this basswood impala mounted head, a more animal-friendly take on a traditional trophy from Coveted Home on the Country Club Plaza.


4. The Moooi Monster Divina Melange, a soft, puffy, fire-retardant chair found at Museo, is a trendy take on an ordinary black bar stool.


5. Or ditch the brass and go all in with Grohe’s single-handle deck mount faucet, found at Ferguson Enterprises, with swivel pull-out spout and SuperSteel Infinity finish.


6. From the Halcyon Collection at Wilson Lighting, this single-light wall sconce in an antique burnished-brass finish will add a flame to any range wall.