A suburban Kansas City split-level showcases its owner’s love for collecting and a black-and-white palette
The Red Bridge split-level had been a family home that reflected its ’80s roots with warm wood paneling, wallpaper, and teal accents. It was spacious, surprisingly larger inside than it appeared from the outside, and had a great room with a vaulted and beamed ceiling.
It had just the bones that Lezli Foster was seeking. As the former owner of Much Ado Antiques at the Mission Road Antique Mall, Foster now owns a technology consulting firm, Foster Business Solutions.
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Yet her treasure-hunt days are still with her. When she is on assignment, such as testing software for a project, she still finds time to scout out another item for her unique collections.
In 2015, Foster sold the Leawood home she shared with her daughter, now grown, and their dog (with a nod to Janis Joplin) Bobby McGee. Foster was looking for a house project, but not in the way most people do. “I have to have smaller rooms with walls to display my collections,” she says.
Instead of soaring windows free of draperies, Foster sought smaller windows with plantation-style shutters that could modulate the light.
Foster started with a coat of white paint on the walls. “I needed a white envelope,” she says. With dark wood floors, she got the high graphic contrast she wanted. “A neutral palette is soothing and orderly,” she explains. “I come from a family of eight children, and I have a hectic job. When I come home, I want calm and quiet and everything in its place.”
Her collections are broad—antique English pine furniture—and narrow—framed art from the Polish School of Posters from the 1950s to the 1980s, Eastern Bloc art known for its clever allusions and high graphic design. Over the years, she has gone more toward the very, very specific. “If you narrow it down, the find is more exciting,” she says.
The entry hall has just enough room for a pair of antique French doors in an enviable shade of peeling blue-green and two boars’ heads. “You can’t be an antique dealer and not see your fair share of stuffed heads, but I couldn’t resist these. They gave me the name I call this house—Double Boar Lodge,” she says.
“I pepper in the expected with the unexpected,” says Foster.
The focal point of the great room is the fireplace at one end, painted black, and expansive display areas on each side to show off a framed butterfly collection—“difficult to find”—and her Polish posters. Metal fencing masks. Wooden shoe lasts. Vintage movie projectors. Matching consoles on each side of the room proclaim “Greenwich Village” but they’re both from Nebraska Furniture Mart. “I think a mix of high and low makes for interesting design and is kinder to the budget,” she says. Comfy couches show off another collection of Pendleton blankets. Vintage sets of dominos, chess and tic-tac-toe invite visitors to sit down for a game.
To carry through with the idea of calm and order, Foster eliminated upper cabinets from her kitchen. Instead, white lower cabinets topped with black granite counters keep the graphic quality going. A round Mexican copper table is surrounded by wicker chairs plumped up with pillows featuring prime numbers, a nod to Foster’s physicist brother.
She also kept the same design elements in all the bathrooms: black-and-white tile in a vintage design, white sinks and black and white shower curtains.
In the dining room, Foster added brown with patterned Parson’s chairs that cozy up to an antique pine dining table. Framed line drawings by Missouri artist Paulina Everitt, who had studied with Thomas Hart Benton, hang behind the table.
The living room, which Foster calls “the rust room,” continues the color scheme with a 1940s tricycle in the shape of an atom bomb, a rusty gate topped with concrete, and a rusty corner case full of vintage apothecary bottles. Foster also tipped a sign on its side as well as a tribulum, a European threshing board. A collection of old pewter stamps—“I love the texture,” says Foster—a vintage Royal typewriter—“I love the graphics on old typewriters”—shows her eclectic taste and discerning eye.
Upstairs in the master bedroom, taupe and red form a restful palette. A vintage red Chinese chest and striking images of Hyden horses surround Foster with some of her favorite things.
In the guest room, a Woody Allen movie quote, a Swedish painted chest from French by Design, and a set of antique Staffordshire dogs make this black and tan room unique.
In Foster’s upstairs office, the desk is in the center of the room, all the better to see the stuffed armadillo on the étagère.
In the TV room on the lower level, Foster again features collections, this time of black-and-white record albums from artists like Prince, Robert Plant and Barbra Streisand. There are more themed movie lines and a shadow box of vinyl movie-theme figures.
It’s her life, collected.
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