Written by Andrea Glinn | Photos by Josie Henderson
Interior designer Julie Baker deftly swoops in to save overwhelmed homeowners at the framing stage to finish the job with supreme style.
riving around affluent residential neighborhoods in any booming metropolitan city, you will notice a trend to demo-rebuild in favor of renovating or adding onto older homes.
This is because the cost of renovations are high, extensive structural or unfeasible repairs may be required, older homes are not energy efficient, and homes of yesteryear weren’t designed to meet the needs of today’s modern-day households.
This Leawood residence is an example of this, where a smaller, older home was torn down to make way for a new, expansive single-family home on an ample two-acre lot. But for the family, building bigger wasn’t just about having more space—it was about creating their dream home, and one that would also accommodate a long-term, live-in family member.
Allure Luxury Homes began construction of the five-bedroom home, which includes two primary bedroom suites—one with a kitchenette—and houses three generations of the family. There were many functional prerequisites to consider for the interior design, and when it came time to select materials and finishes, the clients were overwhelmed. That’s when interior designer Julie Baker of Shaping Your Space received a panicked phone call requesting a consultation to select tile, which turned into her selecting finishes and furniture for the entire home. “I selected everything down to the hinges and the hardware,” Julie says.
Julie started her career working in an antique store on the East Coast, and that inherent eclecticism—or blending various design styles from different eras—is part of her wheelhouse. For instance, in the living room, she pairs a vintage Tibetan rug with a mid-century modern Eames lounge chair and doesn’t think twice.
She also customizes cabinetry, furniture and other elements to add personality to the space. In this home, the double-height entryway with an open stair was a prime spot to do something special, and Julie proposed a custom handrail design for the interconnecting stair. “It’s a take on Chinese Chippendale,” she describes, referencing the fretwork pattern found on furniture originally made in the late 1700s and replicated on the formal dining room chair backs here.
“I want each project to reflect the personality of my clients. It’s not about what I like or my style. It’s about helping them find what they like,” Julie reflects. She strives to make each project unique. “I don’t even like to use the same material more than once.”
Lucky for her, there is no shortage of options when it comes to finishes for residential interiors, and she is not shy about exploring them. Throughout the home, there are abundant wallcoverings—on both walls and ceilings—porcelain, ceramic, and marble floor and wall tiles, solid walnut flooring, brass plumbing fixtures, and dozens of decorative light fixtures.
She puts her product knowledge to use in selecting the best options for her clients from dozens of different vendors. One of the new finishes that she used in this home is a large-format porcelain tile that clads the fireplace surround. While it is new to residential construction, it is a tried-and-tested material that has been used in commercial architecture for a decade, and she felt this double-height wall was the perfect application.
This residence is a testament to the quality and thoughtful care that Julie gives each client, and her confidence to try new things and her desire to individualize each project keeps her designs fresh. After being in the business for 11 years, “my projects keep getting bigger and better,” she says. And with a growing stash of furniture and accessories for staging her projects—a trade hazard, she laughs—she is grateful to do what she loves.
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Interior Design: Julie Baker, Shaping Your Space
Builder: Allure Luxury Homes
Stair Railing: Jason Begnaud, Wrought Iron Works
White Cabinets: BM Decorators
Tile: Kohler/Ann Sacks
Paint: Farrow and Ball
Pendants: Urban Electric
Lighting: Currey and Company, Circa Lighting
Bar Stools: Designer’s Library/Gabby Home
Table: All Modern
Wallpaper: KDR/Phillip Jeffries
Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Enterprises
Eames Chair: Herman Miller
Marble Fireplace: International Materials of Design
Door: McCray Lumber and Millwork
Florals: Good Earth Floral Design Studio
Tibetan Rug: Hamcho Rugs at the River Market Antique Mall