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Reader Renovation

How Kristen Haaksma of Leawood transformed her living room from dated to a designer’s dream

When Kristen Haaksma moved into her Leawood home with her family in November of 2014, every room was painted a different color. Built in 1989, the house featured popcorn ceilings, wall-to-wall carpet and honey oak trim- all of which Haaksma planned to renovate room by room.

She started with the dining room and finished her living room in May, just in time for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

“I wanted it masculine,” Haaksma says of her inspiration behind the living room’s redesign. “I really wanted a menswear, Ralph Lauren-look.”

The room, which was painted a peach color when the family moved in, received a major makeover with a coat of Sherwin Williams Black Fox and more substantial crown molding.

The living room before. The living room before.

“I saw a room in Architectural Digest that had paneling and the crown molding and everything was the same color,” Haaksma says. “I was like ‘Let’s go that route and see how it looks.'”


The result was a sophisticated space that could double as a library with a full wall of built-in bookshelves.

“I was so excited,” Haaksma says about the end result. “With that room so dark, I was nervous it was going to look small. But it didn’t at all.”


Haaksma added a custom velvet C.R. Laine couch and two occasional chairs she bought at a thrift store and reupholstered in Nell Hill’s fabric for seating. The center table with the gold base was a special find for the Leawood resident.


“My aunt had a table just like that,” Haaksma says. “And I had searched for a year trying to find it. I found it at a thrift store for $150, and I almost died.”

Styling the bookcases took the most amount of time, Haaksma says, and plenty of her design finds came from local thrift and antique stores. The chinoiserie prints were a find at Mission Road Antique Mall, and the oversized abstract painting is from Nell Hill’s.


“I love [former Spaces contributor] David Jimenez and his style,” Haaksma says.  “I will zoom in on his pictures and get his detail, especially his vignettes. I read a bunch of his articles and how he would source things from antique stores and thrift stores.”

The result is a refined living room that no longer serves as a dumping ground for kids’ toys, but a sophisticated, stylish space.

Would you like to be featured in Reader Renovation? Send your before and after photos to mgraham@kcstar.com.