A Shawnee couple takes a home from knotty pine to knockout
Cary and Pam DeCamp have long-time ties to Shawnee. Cary’s family moved to the area in the mid-’70s. When Cary and Pam moved back to Kansas City more than 10 years ago, they settled their family there as well. “It was instantly home,” Pam says.
But when their daughter fell in love with horses and riding, the family began to look for a house that would fill all their needs: space for the horses, room to entertain and something near Cary’s work.
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“The house was just seven years old when we bought it,” Cary says.
“We liked the architecture and it’s well-built. But inside there was a lot of knotty pine. The whole house was knotty pine— the kitchen, the bathrooms. It was the first thing we wanted to change.”
The couple hired the late Benjamin Sundermeier, who had an easy nature and a modern take on classic interiors. “Ben understood what we wanted to do,” says Cary.
“He understood ‘modern country’ and liked the contrast of the natural elements of steel, wood and stone,” Pam agrees. “I kept saying, ‘I don’t want knotty pine, but I want it to be a country house.’ Ben got that.”
Working with contractor Kurt Ellenberger, they raised the sunken living room so that the first floor was all on one level. All also agreed that the staircase in the entry needed reconfiguring.
“We designed a lot as the project developed,” says Cary. “It was not efficient, but it worked for us. There’s a time to be structured, but in this project we let it evolve. It was right for this house.”
Before the project was complete, Sundermeier passed away, and his associate, Erin McKenna, stepped in to take over the project. “We were so lucky she was on-board and knew everything that was going on,” says Pam. While Sundermeier had visualized the structural changes, McKenna assisted the DeCamps with the interiors.
Besides the reconfiguration of the first floor, they enhanced two bedrooms upstairs for their daughters and created a home office for Cary. The house is wired so nearly everything—lighting, sound, security, even curtains—can be controlled through the couple’s phones.
Outside they’ve added a barn for the horses, a pool and a pool house. It is the perfect combination of country and technology.
The couple is thrilled with the finished product.
“I wanted the house to have a sense of permanence. I wanted it to feel solid. I wanted it to be relevant 100 years from now,” says Cary.
Pam, who credits her husband with being the visionary for the project, says, “There’s not one thing I’d change.” Though this year she has added chickens to the mix. “I’m trying not to get too attached, but I’m not sure that’s working.”
Profile Cabinet & Design
Kurt Ellenberger Construction
Erin McKenna Design
Austin’s Iron Works
International Materials of Design