The Happy Factor

Armed with a palette of cheery colors, bold fabrics and contemporary art, designer Mindy Day transforms a Prairie Village townhome

Patty Zender in her favorite chair.

 

“I needed to move forward,” admits Patty Zender. After a big life change, she wanted a space that she could make her own.

She and her late husband, Bob, had already downsized from a large home on the Plaza to a smaller home in Fairway. In October of 2014, she found a townhome in Prairie Village and called her go-to designer Mindy Day, whom she met when Zender was the head of the preschool at Village Presbyterian Church and Day was the mom of a preschooler.

Says Day, “Patty has such a wonderful energy. She creates the most welcoming feel in her homes; people really don’t want to leave.”

“This house spoke to me right away,” says Zender. “I couldn’t wait to put my mark on it.”

Zender loves the classic color combination of blue and white, which she accented with orange in her previous home. “Here I paired it with a new, fresh green,” she says. Her additional style favorites include lots of light, a mix-and-match approach, and a relaxed feel.

Day recycled many of the antiques and furniture pieces Zender had in her previous home but added sleek lighting from Visual Comfort, a fresh color palette with lots of white and contemporary art. The result is that happy fusion known as New Traditional.

“I think it’s important to have pieces that have a story or some history mixed in with fresher pieces, patterns and color,” says Day. “Those pieces usually do a good job of grounding the rooms and giving them some balance.”

The jumping-off point in Zender’s home comes courtesy of the eye-catching Chinois Palais by Schumacher, inspired by L.A. designer Mary McDonald’s love of chinoiserie. Day papered the hallway with it, then picked up the theme with linen draperies in the living room.

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“My art means so much to me,” says Zender. Over the living room fireplace, The Three Mustangs oil by Kansas artist Phil Epp evokes the family’s beloved Flint Hills and Zender’s three grown sons. The painting was done at Epp’s ranch. Across the room, a different artist—Kansas Citian Allan Chow—working at Epp’s ranch, painted the vibrant Vanishing Voices #1.

Day had designed and had fabricated a gilded mirror with a frame like prairie grasses for the Fairway house; they had a second one made for the other side of the fireplace. “I love symmetry,” says Zender.

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Two Thibaut wing chairs with Greek key patterning and nailhead trim are another New Traditional touch. “They’re wing chairs,” says Zender, “but they don’t look like my grandmother’s chairs,” she laughs.

In the dining room, the harvest table from her previous home now sports elegantly mismatched chairs for a fresh look. The wingback end chairs have a contemporary profile, upholstered in Schumacher’s Chiang Mai dragon pattern that pops with color. The tweedy gray side chairs with white painted legs offer a visual counterpoint.

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The library with its navy grasscloth walls is the place where Zender snuggles up to read or watch a television program in the evening. An antique library table, bought in London, was a gift from her late husband for their 50th anniversary. “I might set this up to have a meal in here or play a game with my four grandchildren,” she says. “I like that I can change things around.” Framed prints of prairie grasses and some of Zender’s blue-and-white china collection add interest.

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In the master bedroom, French gray tints built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace. Day sourced the fretwork tops, reminiscent of vintage stereo cabinets. The clean-lined gilded hardware echoes the feel of the modernist chandelier. A sculpted, upholstered headboard in a misty blue mixes with two sculptural side tables from Bungalow 5. A reverse chinoiserie print—cream pattern on a dark taupe background—freshens the look of the traditional armchair by the window.

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Outside, Zender mixed brown wicker seating with garden antiques from Prize. She also loves an antique candy-making copper pot, which she placed on a stand, a reminder of her husband’s time at Bogdon Candy Company.

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“This house gives me great pleasure,” says Zender, “room to room, all day long. In good weather, I have morning coffee outside on the veranda or by the picture window in the living room. I’ll have a meal in the dining room. The library is my room at night, as cozy as a cocoon. And then my bedroom is a calming place to go to sleep. I’m really happy here.”

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