A young Kansas City couple proves you really can go home again
It’s not an unusual story. He’s a Kansas City native; she’s a particularly lovely transplant from the South. After a stint together in New York, they longed for lawns and just a little more room. Cheerful and game, she didn’t realize his geographic parameters were nearly as tight as their accommodations on the Upper East Side.
“I knew he loved the neighborhood he grew up in, but I didn’t know how much until he told me where he wanted to look. It was about three square blocks,” says Anne Riker Powell with a laugh. There is something special about Old Sagamore, where there can be long dry spells when houses simply do not come on the market. Powell and her husband, David, originally settled elsewhere and waited for the perfect fit.
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A few years and their first child later, when their current home hit MLS, the couple was tentatively optimistic. “We’d waited for a long time. I was hopeful,” she remembers. She needn’t have been concerned. “We loved it from the beginning.”
The house had retained much of its original center-hall floor plan. “I like definition in my spaces,” Powell says. “This was open, but not too open.” Indeed, there’s a nice view down the hall, through the kitchen and out the windows of the back. The formal living room and dining room sit proportionately and respectively from right to left. Also, it needed no addition.
“A previous owner had added on to the back of the house to expand the kitchen and the family room, so we really had all the space we needed,” she says. The couple did feel the house, while it had been well tended, needed some updating.
Their contractor, Scovell Wolfe and Associates, beefed up the woodwork throughout the house to add more gracious detail. “We tried to leave the original moldings where we could and add to them,” Powell says. They added new wainscoting and chose a darker stain for the floors. “We moved to Kansas City from a one-bedroom apartment in New York, so we’ve been acquiring slowly,” she says.
They are lucky that their families have passed some pieces down to them. “This is my husband’s grandmother’s table and my grandmother’s chairs,” Powell says of their dining room furniture. “I love feeling that all the generations are gathered around this table telling their stories.”
The pair worked with local decorator Natalie O’Shaughnessy to help balance their traditional side with their young lifestyle and perspectives. The designer nudged them out of their comfort zone now and then. “It took us forever to find the right light for the dining room,” notes Powell. “But Natalie brought us this more modern piece. She really pushed me, but she was right. I love it,” she says of the linear crystal fixture that provides a lot of sparkle with a bit of edge.
The living room, too, is an easy mix of old, new and vintage. O’Shaughnessy guided the couple to the just-right sofa, while Powell scored the wing chairs on eBay. She’s at home scouring estate sales and Mission Road Antique Mall. “It’s my happy place. I love that it’s open every day and that I usually find something that I like that’s affordable,” Powell says. She found the camel’s saddle that leans against the wall there. “Doesn’t it make you wonder how a camel’s saddle got to Kansas City?”
The major renovation took place in the back of the house. Scovell Wolfe completely updated the kitchen, family room and mudroom/office. “It’s funny,” says Powell. “They did the original addition 20 years ago.”
The once dark kitchen cabinets have been replaced with classic white cabinetry, and the generous kitchen island that accommodates breakfast coffee and cooking now will someday make way for homework and after-school snacks.
The nearby family room received new built-ins around the fireplace, the perfect spot to hold the family’s favorite books. “At first, I couldn’t figure out how the furniture was going to work and if we could really use this as our sitting area and a place for our children to be, but Natalie brought it all together,” Powell says. “We do hang out in here with the kids but sit in here just the two of us, too. It’s turned out to be my favorite room.”
Upstairs they added built-ins in the master to help with storage and hide the television. “I didn’t want a TV in the bedroom, but it can be handy,” she admits. Especially when it’s the perfect spot to cuddle up with her daughter for a movie.
The little girl sleeps in her great-grandmother’s bed and plays in a secret space tucked under the eave in her room. If she’s unsettled by the arrival of her new brother, it shouldn’t last. It will be obvious that her family is in just the right place.
Scovell Wolfe & Assoc.
The Little Flower Shop