Winter 2023

Masculine Mood

Words by Katy Ryan Schamberger  |  Photos by Laurie Kilgore

A thoughtful blend of light and dark brings contrast and nuance to a freshly furnished home.


hen Lee Dempsey bought a stately home in Mission Hills, he wanted professional guidance on the home’s interior design and furnishings. At the behest of a mutual friend, Lee reached out to Maureen Lindstrom, principal of ML Designs, to inject a sense of timeless sophistication into key rooms throughout the home—including the dining room, entryway, hearth room and library. The resulting aesthetic—rich yet nuanced—effortlessly shifts from an inviting entertaining backdrop to a cozy, quiet escape from Lee’s hectic schedule as an attorney. Lee and Maureen connected mid-pandemic, so the majority of their meetings and discussions were held virtually on Zoom rather than in person. He offered her some guidance—he wanted his home to be versatile so he could easily entertain and host dinner gatherings—but otherwise, he gave Maureen free rein. “He really had no opinions,” Maureen says with a laugh. “That’s fun because it enables me to get my creative juices flowing, but it’s also a lot of pressure. As I would suggest art or furnishings or color palettes, I kept thinking, ‘I hope he likes them!’”

She would typically begin crafting the vision for a new project during a thorough walk-through of the home. Yet the previous owners hadn’t yet moved out of Lee’s new home and pandemic precautions forced a virtual tour.
“We did a Zoom call together and they walked me through the home and supplied me with all of the measurements I needed,” Maureen says.
That gave her a better feel for the home and also for the existing features she wanted to embrace rather than change. One example: the lacquered library walls that shine then deepen throughout the day as the light shifts.
Maureen used the library’s moody hue as a starting point for creating an inviting retreat that could easily function as a comfortable workspace or as a place to host a colleague for an after-work cocktail. She sourced a pair of deep armchairs covered in warm camel leather that coordinated perfectly with a hand-knotted rug featuring neutral hues interspersed with a smoky blue.
Eye-catching abstract art further enhances the unexpected wall color, while pops of lighter hues—a white accent table, a circular mirror framed by the subtle sheen of gold spheres—

All things in life benefit from balance, and this home is no exception. Maureen took full advantage of the home’s existing features and layout to strike a gentle contrast between darker, moodier spaces like the library with airy, light-filled areas like the sunroom.

“The sunroom was especially fun to design,” she says. “There are a ton of windows that showcase all of the trees surrounding the home. It feels like the outdoors are coming in, so we wanted to embrace that and keep the furniture light, too.”

The crowd favorite: a plush, buttery sectional that invites Lee and his guests to get comfortable and stay awhile—all part of Maureen’s plan.

“We wanted to create a space that would be ideal for hosting a Kansas City Chiefs game watch party—a large yet cozy entertaining spot,” she says.

Elsewhere in the sunroom, she applied her talent for effortlessly mixing not just materials and colors but also time periods. A buffet trimmed in Lucite edges and brass studs adds a subtle modern flair to the more traditional floor plan.

“We love mixing traditional and modern, especially given this particular home and the client’s tastes,” Maureen says. “Adding pieces with a modern edge keeps the overall effect interesting.”

Sometimes, striking that ideal balance of furnishings, fixtures and finishings can be more challenging. Part of Maureen’s updates to the primary bedroom included a striking new light fixture. This focal point proved difficult to source, however, as Maureen encountered many options that were too feminine in their style or materials.

She finally found what she had envisioned: a striking light fixture that nestles a muted bronze chandelier inside a dark shape, reminiscent of a birdcage. The show-stopping fixture is balanced by dark walls, a classic four-poster bed and matching nightstands and lamps, all of which blend to create a feeling of subtle sophistication.

After the client’s unwavering patience with unexpected supply chain–related delays, Maureen and her team unveiled the finished masterpiece during a full-fledged reveal, surprising Lee as he arrived home from work.

The verdict? A home run!

“He loved it,” Maureen says.


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