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A New York designer creates a family home in Fairway

In the living room, Sheehy custom designed the couches and chairs, which were brought to life by Absolute Upholstery. The coffee table, also designed by Sheehy, was built by Madison Custom Woodcrafts. Floral arrangements by The Little Flower Shop.
In the living room, Sheehy custom designed the couches and chairs, which were brought to life by Absolute Upholstery. The coffee table, also designed by Sheehy, was built by Madison Custom Woodcrafts. Floral arrangements by The Little Flower Shop.

Robyn Brooks Sheehy, who grew up in Mission Hills, spent a good chunk of her adult life using exotic materials—in python, alligator, ostrich, and sting ray patterns—to create mirror frames, trays, lamps, handbags, and bracelets for New York clients. Along the way, she worked with Manolo Blahnik, Michael Kors, and Zac Posen.

When it was time to start a family, Sheehy and her husband Matt, an executive with a local energy company, put down roots in Kansas City. “We rented an apartment and looked for a house for two years,” she says. Robyn wanted old; Matt wanted new. “We just couldn’t agree.” Finally, they jumped on a chance to build a new house that looked like it had always been in Fairway.

Room by room, Robyn loves to layer in comfort, color, and a sense of family identity, which now includes baby Charlie and Hank, the bulldog. “I am drawn to well-made things,” she says, “new or antique,” and they add a signature touch throughout the house.

In the kitchen, a large island in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue gets a custom countertop of thick walnut, fashioned by Madison Custom Woodcrafts. Surrounded by bistro bar stools in woven navy and cream rattan, the island is the hub of the kitchen. Honed marble countertops and classic white cabinetry tread the line between classic and contemporary. The adjacent breakfast room features a colorful print by Paule Marrot, a French textile designer and painter whose work is enjoying a renaissance. Robyn channeled New York designer Alexa Hampton with the valance, but made it her own by adding leather trim.

The kitchen opens into the family room, where three sets of French doors lead to a covered courtyard. Robyn’s stingray lamp and ostrich box, piles of design books, and family photos add meaning as well as style. Damian Serrioz of Absolute Upholstery translated her sofa designs—a Hague blue with nailhead trim and a light blue herringbone—into custom furniture. The backgammon table was a wedding gift from Robyn to her husband. Two comfy armchairs in a Rosa Bernal print pick up the blue and white with greens and mauve.

Behind the scenes, a pass-through pantry in the same Hague Blue hides all the kitchen appliances. It leads to a hallway with blue-and-white striped Ralph Lauren wallpaper and a favorite print of a Chinese take-out box by T. McGinley, a Christmas gift from Robyn to her husband. A mud room area and cabinetry with a French wire detail rounds up shoes and bags and keys.

A second pass-through butler’s pantry with Twigs wallpaper and light-blue cabinetry keeps all the service items for dinner parties out of sight.

The dining room, papered in grasscloth with light blue trim, keeps that mix of classic and contemporary. Dining chairs with seats in a Fortuny fabric cozy up to a custom table from Madison Custom Woodcrafts. The Sheehys commissioned the abstract oil on canvas by Kansas City artist Nina Irwin. They found the two complementary “lion brothers” by digital artist Graham Attwell on a trip to Sydney, Australia.

If Robyn ever gets nostalgic about her former New York apartment, all she has to do is sit in the library where she repurposed her furniture, zebra rug, even the lighting. An oil painting of richly colored neo-expressionistic birds by Hunt Slonem hangs on the far wall.

In the tiny powder bath, where designers love to make big statements, a dark Cole & Son “Gondola” wallpaper with glowing coral paper lanterns lures you in. The custom black vanity topped with black marble and a gold-rimmed mirror complete the look.

In the master bedroom painted a duck-egg blue, the bed is dressed with crisp Leontine Linens from New Orleans. A series of framed vintage maps denote places that are special to the couple. The master bath continues the white custom cabinetry, also in the kitchen, from Cabinets by King.

Upstairs in the playroom, a second Paule Marrot print “Fete” sets a cheerful tone. A wood and lacquer console that Robyn designed now holds books and toys. A jungle-green velvet sectional offers a perfect spot for reading.

The baby’s room, with its Sister Parish “Serendipity” star-patterned and Thibaut grasscloth wallpapers, creates the perfect place to begin and end Charlie’s day. A blue and white glider, redesigned by Robyn, and a rug by Madeline Weinrib soothe the senses. A daybed with a trundle in periwinkle blue with orange trim will be perfect for future sleepovers. And a vintage circus painting, found at Mission Road Antique Mall, suggests adventures to come.

The adjacent bathroom features crisp white tile and a Barbara Cosgrove library light over the mirror.

The current round of designing interior rooms has hit a pause while the Sheehy family concentrates on the outdoor areas. But a creative person’s work is never done. Design books beckon. The ideas don’t stop, nor the desire to edit or add just one more detail. There will be more places to visit, and then more maps to frame.

“We’re building our life together,” says Robyn.

Room by room.


Custom Wood Features

Madison Custom Woodcrafts


Barbara Cosgrove

Art and Framing

Ward & Ward Fine Art and Framing


The Little Flower Shop