Walking in the front door of Libby and Brady Sullivan’s Old Leawood home tells you almost everything you need to know about the rest of the house. Clean. Crisp. Large doses of green and white with a mix of traditional and found objects arranged with fresh perspective. What you don’t see is the smart and thoughtful way Sullivan has designed the house to accommodate their family of six.
“It was the worst house on the block,” Libby Sullivan remembers of the ranch she and her husband drove by five years ago when she was pregnant with her fourth son. “We had looked at another house nearby—another house that wasn’t right—and as we drove by this one I said, ‘That’s the house.’”
Brady was skeptical, but Libby had vision. “I knew that we could use the downstairs bedroom space for a master suite and then add a second floor for the boys. The addition on the back wasn’t exactly what I would have done, but it gave us great space for the kitchen and hearth room.”
The house opens to a wide hall and a generous dining room that is made intimate with its rich tobacco-colored walls. “This is a great room when we have parties. People always end up in here,” says Sullivan.
The wide hallway that leads to the kitchen is lined with shelves chockfull of books, pictures and mementos that capture the family’s personality. As with most young families, the hearth room and kitchen is where the family tends to hang out. The generous space with its vaulted ceiling creates an airy retreat. “We live in here,” says Sullivan. “Honestly, this room is usually covered with toys and shoes.”
The Sullivans put in a new kitchen with crisp, white cabinets, marble countertops and stainless appliances. They added a bay window nearby to make room for a breakfast table. Soothing and classic neutrals on the upholstered pieces in the hearth room are made lively with accents of strong pattern and color.
The nearby mudroom is a handy spot for the boys’ shoes, backpacks and a large chalkboard. “There’s usually a message that celebrates whatever’s happening. Summer or a holiday or someone’s birthday,” says Sullivan.
The master bedroom, which is also on the first floor, echoes the themes of the public rooms of the house. Neutral backgrounds with a lively, bold floral live happily with bamboo, Lucite and worn wood. The house’s former bedrooms have made way for a master suite that includes a spa-like bathroom with double sinks and a deep, free-standing tub.
Sullivan points out the interior door color and nods. “I love green,” she says. “My husband wasn’t sure about green doors, but I told him to trust me. I can’t help myself when it comes to green. I can still remember spray painting my iron bed with my dad when I was in about third grade. That might have been when my love of green began.”
While she’s had a lifelong passion for color, her career in interior design was not her first plan. “I’ve always loved decorating and growing up I thought I wanted to be a designer.”
Still, as an adult she had reservations about working with people whose styles varied from hers. She studied studio art and art history, but kept getting drawn back into decorating. “As it turns out, working with different styles is part of the fun.”
Plans do change. While the couple was not sure this was their long-time home, they love the house and their neighborhood.
“I could basically see the house when we walked through the front door the first time. I loved the light and the big windows. This house is perfect for us,” Sullivan says.
Libby Sullivan Interiors