Featured Homes

A House Whispers

… and a real estate executive listens, renovating her Leawood home into a pared-down, luxurious retreat

As the CEO of Reece Nichols, Linda Vaughan has spent her career helping people find the house that speaks to them. And then, surprisingly, her spacious Leawood home of 20 years started its own whisper campaign. “I’m comfortable,” the house murmured, “but I’m not all I could be,” relates Vaughan.

Vaughan called in interior designer Dani James of Crossroads Interiors for a consultation. “We are soul sisters of the neat and tidy world,” says Vaughan. “Dani is very insightful. I felt like through the whole process she understood me, and it shows.”

For this career executive in a demanding and detail-oriented industry, James designed a renovation that maximized storage, featured sleek lines, introduced a serene yet glamorous tone-on-tone palette, and created better flow. “It is relaxing to me to have things in their place and a place for things,” says Vaughan.

“The tone-on-tone concept was to go from a taupe-y greige to a butter yellow,” says James.

Oak floors have a pickled wash that creates a neutral that works in every room. Woven shades by Conrad at the windows, made from sustainable grasses, modulate light during the day and offer a modicum of privacy at night.

And the function fits Vaughan’s lifestyle better. There’s a chaise as part of the sectional in the family room, the perfect spot for Vaughan to read a book or watch television while enjoying a glass of wine in the evening. In the master bath, the deep soaker tub is another spot to de-stress.

“I also wanted the large center island in the kitchen as a gathering place to spend time with friends and family,” says Vaughan. Originally, the kitchen footprint was smaller and there was a separate seating area, but it was not inviting, says James. She persuaded Vaughan to try “a new way to accomplish that need” by creating a custom kitchen island with comfortable barstool seating around it. The hologram-patterned fabric by Pollack is “fun,” says James, “especially when you’ve had a glass or two of wine.”

Vaughan LR 4

James worked with Kitchen Studio: KC to create custom cabinetry, including the island, which is topped with Caesarstone and a walnut surround in a lifelong Durata finish. The custom stainless-steel range hood and silver strié pattern on the bottom cabinets around the range add a luxe finish to the streamlined, uncluttered space.

Vaughan LR 3

But James knew the house still needed pieces to pop. Original paintings by Kansas City artists add interest as well as color and form. Super Red Eve by Rich Bowman hangs near the chaise in the family room. In Touch by Lisa Lala hangs above the living room fireplace.

Vaughan LR 2 The Rich Bowman painting from Blue Gallery adds a brilliant punch of color to the relaxing space.

The other “pop” pieces are also highly functional. “I love to do good lighting,” says James. “Lighting can be the jewelry in the room.” In the foyer, Bubble Ball 9 Light Suspension by Edge Lighting looks like cascading bubbles. In the kitchen, a thin stainless-steel bar with pinhole lights, LEDs Go Linear Suspension, still manages to illuminate the large island. Pendants of metallic floral sprays, Argent Linear Suspension by Terzani, sparkle in the dining room. And in the master bath, what James calls a “gang of four” light by Eureka Dual can be angled in several ways to illuminate the closet, the built-in storage, the sinks, and the rest of the bathroom.

Designer Dani James is a firm believer in the idea that lighting can be the jewelry of the room, as this sparkling chandelier in the dining room so aptly illustrates. Designer Dani James is a firm believer in the idea that lighting can be the jewelry of the room, as this sparkling chandelier in the dining room so aptly illustrates.

James also took the tone-on-tone in interesting textural directions. The dining room is papered in a shimmery stitched moire wallcovering from Maya Romanoff. Underfoot is a Rug Studio wool carpet with a silk pattern “that catches the light,” says James. The powder room walls were first painted, then applied with a handmade Lori Weitzner open-weave overlay in pressed paper from renewable and recyclable natural-toned mulberry and salago fibers.

In the powder room, the Lori Weitzner wallcovering adds three-dimensional texture and interest. In the powder room, the Lori Weitzner wallcovering adds three-dimensional texture and interest.

The living room, painted a buttery cream, features two loveseats upholstered in linen on either side of a silvery egg-shaped coffee table from the Phillips Collection. Two occasional chairs in a pared down 18th-century style are upholstered in a pattern that mimics marbled Florentine paper.

The two-tone shimmery effect continues into the master bedroom with bed linens by SDH. Subdued metallics create a dark and light, “yin and yang” effect, says James.

Vaughan LR 8

Two tones of glass in the master bath—frosted and clear—enhance privacy but let the light shine through. A skylight over the large shower draws the eye upward, as does the floor-to-ceiling ceramic tile with a marbled effect. “Floor-to-ceiling tile expands a space,” says James, making the master bath live larger than its actual footprint.

Vaughan LR 9

Dark custom cabinetry allows lots of storage—including a triple built-in chest of drawers—and banishes the usual clutter. A dressing table between the his-and-hers sinks allows Vaughan to do her make-up in the morning, then stash everything away.

But the showstopper is the marvelous egg-shaped bathtub by Americh Airbath with a free-standing Artos floor mount tub filler, elegant and functional. “I love the bath,” says Vaughan “It is a serene way to start or end a busy day.”

Vaughan LR 1

So, the house whispered. Vaughan listened. And James transformed it. With the renovation complete, “The house now says ‘this is your sanctuary, your calm peaceful place,’” relates Vaughan. And they both seem to like it that way.



Blue Gallery



MG Construction


Drapery and Shades

Bob White Installations



Randy Neal Floral Design


Interior Design

Crossroads Interiors


Kitchen and Bath Custom Cabinetry

Kitchen Studio: KC