Winter 2023

Privacy, Please

Words by Andrea Darr

Four designers create thoughtful places of sleep and sanctuary in this collection of primary suites.

Romancing the Stone

Photos by Josie Henderson

When you see what Jill Tran of Tran + Thomas Design Studio did to this whole house, you wouldn’t believe that it sat on the market for such a long time.

Part of the reason, Jill believes, may have been because the primary bedroom and bathroom had no separation.

“It seemed very open—uncomfortably so,” Jill says. “The second you walked into the room, it felt like you were in the shower.”

For the engaged couple who bought the house, it wasn’t a deal-breaker, but they did want a more private solution.

Several contractor meetings and a winning referral later, the couple found Jill.

“Our job is to solve problems, so we did,” Jill says. “We actually came up with a variety of solutions, and this one offered the most versatility.”

Function first, beauty second is Jill’s mantra. Fortunately, her design for three sliding doors encompassed both. They allow for fully open, partially open and fully closed views between the two rooms.

Contractor Matt Bichelmeyer custom made the doors, which each feature four glass inserts in a wavy pattern.

“That allows the light to move through, so they are flexible and pretty,” Jill says.

The bathroom received cosmetic updates, but the real transformation happened to the bedroom.

Stone columns, heavy beams and wood-paneled ceilings carried throughout the house and into the bedroom created continuity—but not exactly the right tone. “Everything was very orange,” Jill says.

She lightened the palette by painting the ceiling white and the beams in a thinned gray. Sconces were changed out to glass and bleached wood varieties, while an intricate dangling wood chandelier dances overhead.

For style cues, Jill looked at the clients’ wardrobes and talked to them about their lifestyle.

“She wanted romance,” Jill says. “I started naming things that would impart that look, and she grabbed onto a few.”

They included the four-poster bed with curtains and upholstered items in glamorous sheen. Layered rugs, cozy throws and detailed furniture legs add  sumptuousness to the space.

With freedom bestowed by the client, Jill shopped at High Point’s Fall Market to purchase the unique rugs, lighting and furniture.

“When a client is ready to step out and relinquish control, we can do some amazing things,” Jill says. “They always end up being the happiest clients.”

That’s a dreamy outcome for all.


Walk-in Wonder

Photos by Josie Henderson

This home, featured as one of eleven on the Artisan Home Tour last summer, was originally planned as a model home—an example of the clean design and enviable lifestyle features that MOJO Built is known for.

Located on an infill lot in desirable Prairie Village, the house was mid-construction when a prospective buyer turned into the homeowner at the sheetrock phase. Enamored with the vision of what was underway, the new clients didn’t alter the floor plan, which was well-planned to flow throughout three levels.

With a family of five, the buyers were ready to settle into a beautiful, functional home. Though hands-full with little ones, they worked hands-on with the builders and designer Adrienne Meyers to coordinate the finishes.

At the top of any parents’ wish list is a relaxing private space to retreat to at the end of the day. Their primary suite is exactly that.

Decorative wainscoting behind the four-poster bed frame and a serene view of the treed backyard are simple yet effective at creating a calm environment.

“We think the bedroom is best suited for just a bed and nightstands,” says MOJO Built co-owner Joe Woods. “The dressers are located in the bathroom.”

That’s where the design gets really innovative.

“What you don’t see every day is his-and-hers ensuites,” Joe notes.

The unique layout diverges from the couple’s bedroom in two directions. His vanity and closet is to the right, with a custom shoe rack noticeably exposed as a focal point. “He didn’t want to break the light, so we left it open,” Joe explains. “They both live neatly. This layout works for that.”

Her side includes an acrylic soaking tub with artwork and a statement chandelier, plus a makeup vanity.

“The rug and art in the bathroom make it seem more luxurious,” Joe adds.

But the joint wow-feature is a glass-enclosed walk-through shower.

“In upper bracket homes like this, most builders don’t do this layout; it’s definitely not the norm,” Joe says. “John [Moffitt, co-owner] and I like to do things that are cutting-edge, and we like the transitional/modern look without too much fuss. We don’t want to overdo the details.”

The builders had done a similar layout in the past—and it was a stand-out feature. They brought it back for this biennial tour, where it feels fresh again.

“It makes perfect sense to have the shower in the middle of the bathroom,” Joe says. The glass panels allow light to fully pass through.

Another element the MOJO team likes to incorporate in their homes is high transom windows. “We do it in all of our first-floor primary suites when we have the opportunity,” Joe says. “There’s no need for window treatments.”

The space is the perfect getaway for the tired and weary who are raising the next generation. Now if only they can find time to use it!


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Evolution of Style

Photos by Josie Henderson

When something is a part of your life for multiple decades, it can be difficult to see past what is. That was where Kristyn Iman’s clients were with their Prairie Village home when they reached out about renovations. The brick manse—the wife’s childhood home—had remnants of past design eras for Kristyn, owner of Design Spout, to work through.

“We studied the entire home and made recommendations to change most of it,” Kristyn says, who along with Nick Roberts of KM Construction, updated the main level, including the primary suite. 

It started with the delicate process of reducing objects and art—or at least not displaying the couple’s collection in its entirety.

“There is less clutter now; it’s a process,” Kristyn says. “Part of the process is learning how people live and what’s important to them. Once I’ve got that information, the priority is tailoring the function based on their lifestyle.”

The practice of letting go holds true particularly in the primary suite, where simplicity is key, Kristyn says.

“A bedroom needs to be a safe haven, a place to feel completely relaxed,” she notes.

Although she did incorporate a TV above a new built-in media cabinet, the sleeping quarter minimally contains a high-backed upholstered bed to bring softness, nightstands for convenience and a chair for reading.

A rug from The Rug Studio, a to-the-trade showroom, adds a warm landing spot when stepping out of bed on cold mornings.

“I’m not opposed to broadloom carpet in a bedroom because comfort is a priority,” Kristyn says.

She made room for a couple of key pieces of the owners’ art by stealing space from the living room on the other side of the bedroom wall, creating a walk-in closet and removing a row of shallow bi-folding closet doors.

The homeowner says that was a pivotal decision in how they view the room.

“Freeing up some wall space across from the bed really changed the feel of the room,” the wife says. “Now we can look at beautiful artwork instead of a closet door.”

The bathroom was an even larger focus of Kristyn’s rearranging talent.

When studying the space in the 3D model, it was obvious to Kristyn that they should demolish walls to experience the full vaulted ceiling from the bathroom and closet.

She kept the skylights for their incredible natural light, adding UV protection to the glass. She replaced a stained glass window with a frosted one and layered a framed mirror over the top so natural light peeks in from behind.

Notably, Kristyn did not include a tub in the redesign—a door to the back patio leads straight to an in-ground hot tub, the homeowner’s preferred spot for a soak.

By creating a new floor plan, Kristyn was able to incorporate everything the homeowners wanted—and more.

“The space went from being busy to being highly functional,” she says. “Simple forms create a more peaceful environment.”

Sea Change

Photos by Matthew Anderson

As “frequent fliers” of Schloegel Design Remodel, Carolyn and Dan Barnard are professional clients who know how to invest in their home and come to the drawing table with plenty of workable ideas.

“Carolyn has great style, great taste,” says designer Kelly Summers. “And she put in the research herself for three years, so she 100 percent knew what she wanted. She drove the design; I drove the process.”

The couple’s 35-year-old Leawood home had undergone a series of refreshes over the last couple of decades, including a large-scale kitchen remodel. This time, they set their sights on transforming their primary suite.

The dark, north-facing bedroom and bathroom dated back to when the home was a model in the 1980s—so it had “extra frills and woodwork,” Carolyn recalls, in addition to wallpaper, carpet in the bathroom, and that ubiquitous dust-catching plant ledge that no one knew what to do with.

“Tastes change,” Carolyn says. “I’m much more into a contemporary, clean look.”

For her, design inspiration started with a piece of art by her favorite artist, Jill Van Sickle of Minneapolis. The ocean-like colors seemed apropos in a bathroom remodel with spa vibes.

“It makes sense to build your environment around what you love,” Carolyn says.

Material selection flowed easily enough. Blue-green tile steals the scene, while natural tones in cabinetry and flooring ground the space like sand meeting the ocean.

The biggest challenge was an angled cabinet that had little functional storage. “I had to figure out how to not make it look like a refrigerator,” Kelly says. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in, so the wood color and varying grain helped with that.”

The transition between bathroom and bedroom required deep thinking, as well. The carpet—although well-maintained—showed a path of consistent use. Kelly’s solution was to carry the hardwood floors in from the entry and give it a wavy edge. “I said, ‘Let’s feng shui it!’” Kelly exclaims.

Carolyn spotted the vintage door at a warehouse in the West Bottoms and immediately knew it would make a great partition. “I like the combination of contemporary and rustic—not all one way or another—plus some vintage and antiques,” Carolyn says.

In the bedroom, Kelly revamped the fireplace by installing a new gas fireplace with travertine stone up to the ceiling and sized the width of the stack stone proportionate to the windows. Natural light streams in and connects the couple with their backyard landscape.

While this time around with Schloegel included working through a pandemic and recovering from a surgery, the Barnards applaud the entire team for a worry-free experience—and a wonderful outcome.

“Coming out of COVID, this feels like a lifestyle shift. All I need is a mini fridge and I could live in that room,” Carolyn says.



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Keith Sauro


What is your publishing background? 

My father was in printing with GSA as I was growing up and I was able to spend time at his plant. I never met anyone that took so much pride in his job as my father. This was my first introduction to printing.

At the age of 24 I answered an employment ad for an account executive position with Relocating in Kansas City magazine. This company also published Kansas City Homes Gardens. I found that I loved working with small businesses and learning I had a good ear in listening for problems and helping to solve them. I then was asked to help the company expand. My wife and I moved to Las Vegas to launch relocating in Las Vegas magazine during the boom. My first Publisher role. I continued to sharpen my skillset and understanding for Publishing. In Las Vegas my son Evan was born and we wanted to find a way to get back to KC  and I was approached by the Ashley group a division of Cahners Publishing, to launch The Kansas City Home Book, a hard cover annual luxury design book. After two years, and a very successful launch, I was asked to come back to KCH&G as Publisher. My life had now come full circle. These experiences and design products I managed and created help formulate what design KC is today. 

What is your favorite issue?

Every issue is always exciting. When I pick up the first issue at the printer, it still feels like Christmas every time. However, for me our premier issue will always be my favorite. To take something from concept to actual inception is an amazing feeling, and it was always have a warm spot in my heart!

What is your home’s design style?

I am a minimalist…. I hate clutter (although you can’t tell that from my office always), I even have a hard time putting things on the walls… I like clean and simple, and lots of color.

Where and how do you like to spend time at home?

I absolutely love my primary bedroom, bath, and shower. Not that I spend all my time there, but every morning it makes me happy getting ready for the day.

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be?

Laguna Beach, CA right on the water. When I lived in Las Vegas we would drive the high dessert several times a year and enjoy Laguna

If you could make your current home better, what would you do? 

Raise my basements ceiling so I could have a golf simulator.

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

I was born into an Italian family in Boston. I was raised in East Boston, and my memories of Sunday dinners with my whole family are some of the fondest memories of my life. As a result, I love to entrtain and cook. Growing up, we didn’t have much, but we didn’t do without. My parents were great providers.

Do you have a personal motto or life philosophy? 

The World is very round. You get back what you put out. I live and die by that motto.

Jared Webb

Director of Sales and Digital Marketing

What is your publishing background? 

From a fairly young age, around age 10 or 11, I had always wanted to work in publishing, especially in news publishing. I wanted to be a journalist but quickly discovered in college that my skill set was better suited for the marketing and advertising side. I started my publishing background with a community newspaper called the Northeast News, in Historic Northeast Kansas City, Mo., then moved up to The Kansas City Star for more than 18 years. 

What is your favorite DKC issue? 

It’s always the next issue coming up! As a team, we are always trying to push the envelope and improve. The features continue to get better and better! However, if I had to choose one that has already been published, it would be Summer 2022. I love the cover and the trend-setting articles!

What is your home’s design style?

A mess—ha, just kidding…kind of. It is a mix of a farmhouse and a lodge. The focal point is the living room fireplace that extends up in a vaulted ceiling. My wife handles the interior of the home; the exterior is where I rock—literally, I love landscape rocks. The front exterior has a Cape Cod-style landscape—think Table Rock Lake/Ozark mountains campfire feel. My jam is outdoors!  

Where and how do you like to spend time at home?

In front of the fireplace or in the backyard around the fire pit near our water fountain. I love water, earth and fire.

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be?

A 1.5- story timber home in the woods near a lake—Lake Tahoe, perhaps?  

If you could make your current home better, what would you do? 

Add an addition to expand our dining room for hosting dinner parties. And a bigger walk-in closet for my wife. 

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

I grew up in the best home and best floor plan ever, in my ever-so-humble opinion. It was a 1.5-story home with a finished basement in DeSoto, Kansas! It had a wraparound porch, an attic fan, and killer entertainment in the basement for 1990s standards! It was great.  

Do you have a personal motto or life philosophy? 

Motto: Do your best at whatever you do, don’t sweat the small things, and all things are small things. Life philosophy: The Lord God is sovereign and in control—let go, surrender your life to Him and allow Him to work in your life.  

Lonny Cohen

Senior Account Executive

What is your publishing background? 

Being a housing geek comes naturally to me because of my background in publications involved in the housing and design industry. I’ve been with Kansas City Homes & Gardens and RELO Magazine—and for many years, as a staff vice president of the Home Builders Association, one of my responsibilities included the design, editorial, implementation and sales of the two Parade of Homes guidebooks that the association produced each year.

What is your favorite DKC issue? 

I fell in love with designKC two years before we started publishing it, and each time a new issue comes, I’d say that the new issue is my favorite!

What is your home’s design style?

Having grown up with antiques, I still like the clean lines of American antiques, but I love the eclectic touches that I continue to find for my home.

Where and how do you like to spend time at home? 

As the weather gets nicer, my favorite place is reading on the patio while my dog sleeps.

Are there any home goods you can’t live without? 

I love to cook, but like so many of us, I need to rely on shortcuts, so in my kitchen I need my slow cooker and my food processor. While they’re just basic, I save so much time when I cook and couldn’t live without them.

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be? 

A beachfront home somewhere in Florida. While my style in Kansas City is an eclectic mix of American antiques and new, the home on the beach would be very beachy, light and open.

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

My favorite memory of home was the end of each day when our family of four would have dinner and share our stories from our day’s experiences. When I was in high school, my mom went to work as a designer, and the world of design became part of our family and the conversation around the dinner table.

Do you have a personal motto or life philosophy? 

“Never assume anything except possibly a two percent loan!”

Denise Carver

Production Coordinator & Circulation

What is your publishing background?   

None! My background was as a lead dental assistant for more than 20 years. This has been an exciting and fun journey for me.

What is your favorite DKC issue? 

That’s too hard to answer as they’re all wonderful. 

Which of our features have resonated most with you?

I would have to say there are two:  “Home or Museum” in Winter 2021 and “Captivating Mix” in Fall 2021.

What is your home’s design style?

I’m a simple country girl, so I love the rustic, western country feel of a home!  

Where and how do you like to spend time at home? 

Outside, anytime I can, relaxing on my deck or playing in the dirt—I love to garden. Or in my craft room, creating pyrography art (the art of wood burning)—it’s my Zen me-time!

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be? 

On acreage in the country with a Victorian-style home, featuring a big wraparound porch, and, of course, lots of farm animals, especially horses, as I love to ride! And I wouldn’t forget all my pups, goats and chickens!

If you could make your current home better, what would you do? 

Remodel the primary bathroom and expand the deck to a second lower level, with a fire pit as the central attraction.

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

Our family camping lake trips. Summers at my grandmas. Swimming in the creeks.   Digging for crawdads in the ditch in front of our house. Raising rabbits and chickens with my daddy.  

Do you have a personal motto or life philosophy? 

Motto: Faith over fear! Philosophy: You can have excuses or results, but you can not have both! 

Andrea Darr


What is your publishing background? 

I have always loved reading books and magazines—I got my first subscription to Architectural Digest at age 17—and knew as a kid that I wanted to be in publishing. I earned a degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Kansas in 2001. Shortly after graduating, I got my first job at Kansas City Homes & Gardens, and stayed for a decade, only leaving the position of Editor-in-Chief once my first daughter was born. I worked as a freelance writer for other local publications for the next decade while raising my girls and running a successful Airbnb on my property in KCK. When Publisher Keith Sauro called me in 2021 to launch DesignKC, I was ready for a new challenge and excited to use full creative license to create a publication—a full brand—that best represents KC from my experienced perspective.   

What is your favorite DKC issue? 

I think of all of them as my babies and can’t choose one over the other! Whatever the next one is always excites me the most. 

Which of our features have resonated most with you?

Everything in these pages resonates with me on some level! No matter the topic or design style, I most appreciate stories where homeowners are true to themselves and create just-right homes that express their personalities and make for a beautiful and functional life. 

What is your home’s design style?

I live in a 1922 bungalow and also own a twin 1933 bungalow next door that we rent out as an Airbnb on 18 acres near The Legends. Both houses have similarities in floor plan, but mine is more modern and cluttered with family life; our inn has mid-century modern influences and feels more like a retreat, as we designed it exclusively for guests. 

Where and how do you like to spend time at home? 

I am a homebody who loves to putter around the house in my slippers. We often leave the doors wide open and transition between indoors and outdoors often and easily during good weather. I love to lounge in the hammock on the back deck with a book and a glass of wine, watching the sunset from our clear view of the horizon line and sometimes getting out our hefty telescope to ponder the moon and stars. 

Are there any home goods you can’t live without? 

A hand vac for the debris that blows in from said doors being open all the time and the shed fur from our four cats. 

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be? 

As a lifelong Kansan, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. I love to travel and I love the easy access to anywhere that living in the middle provides. I am definitely happy at the bay of a beach or cozied up among the pines in the mountains, and I feel a strong pull toward the Southwest. No matter where I live, I don’t need a large house, just a functional one, somewhat minimal, with only the things and people I love most in it. 

If you could make your current home better, what would you do? 

Add a primary suite and give my girls each their own bedroom and bathroom—it’s getting tight in here! 

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

My parents made a hobby of moving or building houses every few years, so I grew up with constant change—always picking new floor plans and tile, visiting job sites and refreshing my own room. It was fun to always have a project! And that experience was where my love for home design blossomed and embedded itself into my soul to this day.

Ryan Litts

Art Director

What is your publishing background?

I have been doing graphic design for nearly 25 years. I had my own business for 11 years working on websites, graphic design and publications. I have published countless magazines and periodicals over the years.

What is your favorite DKC issue? 

The first issue. It was the culmination of a vision, dedication and a lot of hard work. It is great to work with a group of passionate people all pulling together in the same direction. We strive to make each issue better than the last and have fun while we are doing it.

Which of our features have resonated most with you?

Not a feature, but I loved “The City Farm Girl” featuring chicken foot stools in our Creative Type department in Summer 2022. I just loved those things. 

What is your home’s design style?

“Country Comfy.” Is that a style? I like for people to walk in and feel cozy and right at home when they are at our home.

Where and how do you like to spend time at home? 

Outside. I love to be outside as much as possible since I spend the majority of time in my office. 

Are there any home goods you can’t live without?

A coffee maker. I love to start my day with a good cup of coffee.

If you could live anywhere, where and what would your dream home be?

I would love to have land overlooking a lake, pond or stream where I could fish anytime I want. Also, there needs to be trees and nature—kind of where we are now. 

If you could make your current home better, what would you do? 

Recreate our downstairs living area. I would love to take out the wall in our kitchen and open it up to our living room so we could have a friendlier space to entertain. Probably the bedroom and bath area, too. 

What are your best memories of home when growing up? 

I grew up having my grandparents as our next-door neighbors. Their front door was always open, and aunts, uncles and cousins were always stopping by. Also, the land we had was great—it was about five acres of mountain terrain and a boy’s paradise.

Do you have a personal motto or life philosophy?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.