Words by Veronica Toney | Photos by Nate Sheets
Interior Design Beth Phillips helps a widower reinvent his Lake Quivira home.
emodeling is a new beginning for a home—and oftentimes also for the homeowner. That’s exactly what Mike Gross was looking for when he decided to renovate his Lake Quivira home. “My wife passed away a little over two years ago, and I wanted to refresh the house and make it mine,” he says.
He hired Kate Ruszczyk and Erin Henkle, designers with Interior Design Beth Phillips (also known as id | bp), to rethink his home and make it work for this new phase of his life. The house was built in the late 1940s and is one of the homes closest to the water. The designers worked with Mike to determine his goals for the remodel, which included optimizing lake views in every room, creating a restorative oasis and maximizing the entertaining space. Together, they reimagined the entry, living room, dining area, den, primary bedroom and outdoor spaces to meet these goals.
“We simplified everything to be minimal and to bring the light deeper into the space. It’s sophisticated but not too serious,” says Kate, the lead designer.
To create a feeling of restoration, they chose a color palette of neutrals with pops of blue in each room. Mike has always found blue to be a calming color, and it establishes a natural connection with the blue waters of the lake.
“Blue was a color that was meaningful to Mike, so you’ll see blue incorporated throughout the design and artwork,” Kate says. “The goal was to create a space that feels positive and uplifting.”
A long floating built-in bench runs along the bank of windows from the entryway to the den. To break up the elongated galley space, they divided it into two sitting areas. The sitting area at the end became the focal point thanks to the dark wall and two bright blue sofa chairs. Lindenlure—a Julie Blackmon photograph—hangs above the sitting area, drawing the eye to the space.
“The main art [is a photograph] of a dock with a bunch of kids playing off it,” Mike says. “It almost looks like a photograph of the lake.”
This area serves double duty as a place to read and relax or as a gathering spot when entertaining.
“I’m not a very formal person, so I didn’t want a formal dining room table,” Mike adds. Kate and Erin worked with Hinge Woodworks to design a custom counter-height table. Mike and his sons can stand around it or sit on the barstool-height chairs while eating a meal together.
“The high table with stools around it was very appealing,” Mike says. “There are three guys here, so it’s fun to have more of the informal feel throughout the house.”
A point of unity between the dining and living spaces, the custom dry bar credenza adds function and a sense of welcoming to an area that was previously a dead zone in the house. Mike travels a lot for work and enjoys many of the amenities of hotel living.
“This informed our design by incorporating elements like the custom drybar to contribute to the hospitality experience in his own home,” Kate says. To further enhance this experience, Hinge Woodworks crafted the credenza from fluted walnut and integrated lighting into the pull-out drawers. These details add luxury and a bit of fun to the casual space.
Keeping with the luxury hotel theme, the living room is a quiet and relaxing space that draws in the views of the lake. The original fireplace wall had layers of porcelain tile and limestone masonry—all were stripped down and reimagined into a sleek, modern fireplace mantle. A neutral color palette with different textures and natural materials adds interest and a sense of calm to the home. Finally, Matt Castilleja designed the wood coffee table in a triangular shape to act as a spoke connecting all the corners of the living room.
“Natural materials add depth and texture,” Erin says. “The room has visual interest without adding a ton of color. You can have a very neutral space that still feels dynamic.”
“I never thought I’d enjoy this process and everything that we did—except tearing out the fireplace—but I did,” Mike says.
“I enjoyed going to the galleries to pick out the art. Getting custom furniture made in Kansas City was fun for me, and seeing the furniture artisans at work. It’s fun when friends come over and see the space and say it has my taste. It fits me.”
Interior Designer: Interior Design Beth Phillips
Custom Furniture: Matt Castilleja; Hinge Woodworks
Art: Haw Contemporary
Lighting: Visual Comfort
Rugs: The Rug Studio
Vendors: KDR Designer Showrooms; John A. Marshall; MillerKnoll; Phillip Jeffries