Once upon a time—make that 2005—Trever Frickey and Todd Brezinka got lost in Briarcliff. Quite by chance, they came upon a house built in 1979, which had sat vacant for many years. So vacant that a family of seven raccoons had moved in and made themselves at home, and not in a good way.
It took the couple nine months to decide on it. “The price was right,” says Trever, retired from a family business and now on the board of Boulevardia. “It looked like the Brady Bunch house. We knew it had the potential for open-plan living,” adds Todd, the owner of Whatchamacallits, an antique business specializing in midcentury and pop art. “We knew it had room for our collections, which are always changing because we can sell pieces and replace them with other finds.”
And so a 70s vibe and a playful spirit guided the design of their home, room by room. “We go to garage and estate sales, auctions. We scour Craigslist. We visit antique malls. And we’ve found these great pieces,” says Todd.
In Topeka, for example, they pounced on two armchairs in teal tweed from the 1960s, complete with matching lamp and ottoman, now in their lower level. At a local consignment store, they scored a green Adrian Pearsall sofa of the same era, complete with clear plastic slipcovers, the kind you can stick to in summer. “A very good find,” says Todd. In a dentist’s office in Denver, of all places, they nabbed two yellow Eero Saarinen “Ball” chairs, circa 1963, with brown fake fur upholstery.
“It’s a good thing we’re not afraid of color,” quips Trever. Especially burnt orange, one of the “it” colors of the era they collect.
To create the perfect setting, they opened walls and allowed the natural stone chimney to be a focal point on all three floors. White walls and floating shelves let their collections do the talking, from a gathering of kids’ lunchboxes to an assemblage of miniature chairs or the original Fisher Price “Little People.”
Trever, with a degree in art history, finds pieces like an original Andy Warhol “Campbell’s Soup” pop art print or the series of three photo collages in the dining room by KU art instructor Shawn Bitters. Todd goes after the furniture and collectibles.
When you walk into the wide entry hall, you can’t help but look up to the glass chandelier of “curly beings” by Ed Pennebaker of Red Fern Glass in Arkansas.
The dining room, to the right, shows a more serious side. “The Actress” oil and acrylic painting by Michael Jilg once hung over Trever’s professor’s desk; when he could buy it, he did. The “Angel” sculpture by friend Jamie Kelty is another reminder of his art school days. A marble-topped Eero Saarinen table seems to float in the room, where light filters in through a midcentury orange screen found at Retro Inferno. Vintage brass wall sculptures by the two-man design team Curtis Jere—Jerry Fels and Curtis Freiler—punctuate the far wall.
The sleek kitchen, all dark wood, frosted glass, and floating cabinetry, is great for entertaining.
Two areas, on either side of the see-through fireplace, also offer places to hang out. A wall of collectibles holds a vintage Casper, a nod to Trever’s childhood when he dressed up as the friendly ghost for Halloween and scared himself. Two barrel-shaped swivel chairs from Trever’s family in their original upholstery remind him of Thanksgiving dinners.
Upstairs, the master bedroom features a dramatic piece by Kansas City artist Bernal Koehrsen. The adjacent “tree house” sitting area is the perfect place for a George Nelson Marshmallow sofa, its miniature replica on display downstairs, and a Keith Haring painting.
The white office area, which used to be all oak, gets serious with the superhero collections, including all things Batman. “Everyone wants to have what they wished they had when they were kids,” says Trever. The knock-off Saarinen table was one of Todd’s finds in St. Joseph, Missouri, complete with its yellowed smoker’s stain; he scrubbed it off with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and had the base powder-coated white.
The expansive lower level is all fun. Jake Allen designed and built the bar area. Todd found the five vintage spaghetti swags lights, so-named because the papier-mâché shades look like they were covered in spaghetti. A wall of lighted beer signs telegraphs “man cave,” and the vintage orange section sofa with its indestructible original upholstery says “party.”
“Our house is a fun space to live and entertain,” says Trever. “And it’s always changing,” adds Todd.
ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES
Whatchamacallits In the West Bottoms, bellapatinakc.com
And at River Market Antiques
Blue Gallery, bluegalleryonline.com
Jake Allen, 913-522-0574
Retro Inferno, retroinferno.com
Portfolio Kitchen and Home, portfolio-home.com