David Cohn grew up in Leawood, graduated from Shawnee Mission East, and then spent his career as a casting director and producer in Hollywood. He is best known for casting the Friday the 13th movies. “You have to get into a director’s head,” he says, “to find the most successful cast.”
When it came time to renovate his late parents’ 1977 home, he took his own advice. He let designer Leann Lynn of McCroskey Interiors get into his head. And the result is a classic, elegant, easy-to-live-in home with just the right amount of homage to his parents.
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“My mother was a very unique individual, ahead of her time in many ways,” says Cohn. “She knew what she wanted—only two bedrooms, more of an open plan, and no back door. She loved yellow and birds and foil wallpaper.” The domed ceilings in the breakfast room and dining room are original to the house, as is the tile in the entry, paneling in the great room, and yellow/bird/foil wallpaper in the powder bath.
Cohn had similarly distinct ideas. He wanted a smart home in which he could answer the door or turn off a light from faraway L.A. He got that with Elevated Electronics.
He wanted a neutral palette, but in an elegant way, so Lynn went with tones of mushroom, pewter, cream, and taupe. The neutrals sometimes have a sheen, such as the paneling in the entry and great room, both painted in a semi-gloss Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. And they get a pop every now and then from a bright color. “A neutral palette is a great way to let the art be the star,” says Lynn.
Cohn is also partial to geometrics, especially the Greek key pattern which marches through the whole house.
“I can take forever to decide on something,” Cohn confesses, but he was so in sync with Lynn that he bought the great room’s Kelly Wearstler chandelier by Visual Comfort at first sight. He said yes at lightning speed to “Rivets” wallpaper by Phillip Jeffries that Lynn had customized. And many of the furnishings.
In the great room, the sculptured lines of the sofa on the left contrast yet complement the angular daybed on the right, which offers open seating and easy viewing of the television. The inlaid wood coffee table by Alfonso Marina was another love-at-first-sight piece. His parents’ framed Fiddler oil painting, displayed on an Arteriors stand, adds another free-floating element to the room.
A bar area highlights another art piece from Cohn’s parents, a Kansas City scene on marble by Jim Thompson Smith from 1975. In the adjacent breakfast room, the original domed ceiling displays a second Kelly Wearstler light fixture that brings just a hint of Los Angeles glamour. Sculptural chairs add a touch of Hollywood Regency.
In the large galley kitchen, custom cabinetry in a dark wood finish and Taj Mahal quartzite countertops keep the elegant, neutral look. Antiqued mirrors add a little sparkle to some of the cabinets. Contractor Tim Cooper crafted the custom range hood. Although the kitchen is sophisticated and polished, “We wanted your view from the kitchen to focus on the art in the hallway,” says Lynn.
The powder bath off the kitchen shows one of three figural wood sculptures by self-taught Kansas City artist Adolph Klugman, from Cohn’s parents’ collection.
The dining room, next to the entry, features the second domed ceiling. Parsons chairs pull up to his parents’ dining room table. A collection of family china and silver decorate an étagère against one wall.
The former family room is now Cohn’s office in which built-ins conceal all the office equipment. A rare signed Charles Schultz cartoon strip was a prize Cohn’s parents carried home from an auction. Cohn quibbled with Lynn about the vibrant green accessories but now agrees that they give the room a lift.
Several of Cohn’s mother’s favorites combine in the original foil wallpaper in the hall bath. “It still looked good, so we decided to keep it,” Cohn says. Lynn updated the space with painted cabinetry and new countertops.
Another Klugman carving of a father, mother, and child hangs in the hallway.
The large master bedroom, ahead of its time yet again, provides a quiet retreat. Grasscloth walls, a charcoal velvet daybed, and linens from Restoration Hardware keep the neutral theme. Cohn displays his father’s house shoes—leather slippers from his high school years—like sculpture.
A 1979 Salvador Dali Les Amoureux celebrates lovers over time, “My ‘Hello, Dali,’” Cohn quips.
Ann Sacks’ zebra marble tile makes a splash in the master bathroom. A Louis Ghost chair by Philippe Starck and the original knobs that Cohn’s mother picked out in 1977 combine for a then-and-now style show.
As a casting director, Cohn knows to “tailor what you’re looking for to the actor.” Lynn tailored the design choices to what she knew Cohn would like. And you can see how well it all worked out.
The Art of Faux