A Place All Her Own

Homeowner transforms Overland Park home into luxurious retreat.

Matt Kocourek

   After she found the perfect reverse story-and-a-half in Overland Park, formerly owned by one of the dashing Kansas City Royals players, Brenda Upchurch gutted it.

   Yes, gutted it in a six-month renovation. Third basemen know about stopping runs, but apparently not interior design.

   “We basically kept the ceilings,” laughs Upchurch.

   She was in search of a place to call her own, and in order to make this house her home, a complete makeover was in order.

   Enter Janet Alholm, a long-time friend and interior designer extraordinaire, who has been in the business for more than 30 years. Alholm aided Upchurch in identifying a new chic style that would define this casual, yet contemporary, retreat.

   The five-bedroom, four-bath home was designed without hallways, is drenched in sunlight and tempts visitors to linger a while longer. An open floor plan gave Upchurch the perfect foundation for a reimagined space.

Cool shades, unique designs and interesting textures fuse in chic style.


Forget the Dining Room

   Upon entering the stately home, a bold door with iron detailing welcomes guests. It’s the first introduction to the strong, independent design of Upchurch’s décor. 

   Next, a salon piques visitors’ interest.

   What was once a dining room is now void of a heavy table and chairs.

   Instead, an original Jeff Hanson hangs among sleek furniture, artistic sculptures, sky-high ceilings and a rug that anchors the space. 

   “We made this an extension of the seating,” says Janet.

   In the great room, a reworked bank of windows allows sunlight to peek through.

   “It was too much glass … we lowered them and raised them, that way she still gets a lot of sun,” says Alholm.

   The home’s facelift also incorporated adding beams to the ceiling and turning to Brenda Groover to texture a gray egg wall behind the fireplace and mantle. Heavy cabinetry was removed from either side and replaced with ceiling-high mirrors that were rounded off, offering a dramatic spacious effect to the room.

   “It’s just the seating, the warmth, the color and the flow,” says Alholm.

   A few of Upchurch’s favorite pieces are highlighted in this room, including a beautiful gold couch. It doesn’t match; and upon further review, none of the room’s pieces match.

    “I don’t match,” says Alholm. “Why match? Your children don’t match. Just enjoy all the individual pieces.”

The home's kitchen was designed with functionality and understated elegance in mind.


Gourmet Appeal

  This homeowner doesn’t cook … and it doesn’t matter.

   The kitchen renovations were done with one major goal in mind — functionality. The kitchen was formerly a U-shaped bar and counter with a compact center island. The only flaw, the barstools hovered about the basement stairs.

   “If you drank too much wine …” says Alholm, “you’d be down the stairs,” finishes Upchurch.

  During renovations, the bar was removed and an elongated island in the center of the kitchen was added. A standout centerpiece, the island showcases black brushed granite that was treated with a water and acid wash to highlight its undertones and detail. Sophisticated white marble was placed on all other countertops.

   To add to the glam factor, tones of black, white, gray and silver were used on the walls and cabinets, which were done by Built to Fit.  

   The cabinetry was dressed in a beautiful cream hue. The pantry, which was maintained, was painted black and a small black trim was carried across the top of all the cabinets to tie them together. The show stopper, however, is the silver vent hood, which beams out of the functional yin and yang kitchen.  

   “It’s actually wood, and then they took little tiny pieces of silver leaf and overlaid it,” says Upchurch. The same treatment was also done on the walls in the nook and, in some cases, the walls in the kitchen.

The lower level's bar (top) imparts a sophisticated sense of style.

Entertainment Central

   Nothing encourages social interaction like a beautiful bar.

   “Everyone loves this bar. It just has a really neat effect to it,” says Upchurch, who recently christened the home with her annual Halloween party.

   The open basement leads to an outdoor patio, making the space ideal for entertaining. The redesign utilized the footprint of the existing bar, but updated it with a textured top, smoky gray mirrors, a stainless steel counter, a mirrored backdrop and the sink was moved to free up more counter space.

   “First, we did upstairs, then we decided that she didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but she did; then one thing lead to another,” says Janet of the lower level.

   Suspended above the bar are conversation-starting lights from Wilson Lighting, which outfitted the entire house. All in all, the effect of the bar space is stylish with a touch of sass. And this sweet spot represents only a fraction of the basement.

   The cozy furniture comes from Seville and the artwork is mostly from Wilson. New travertine flooring also makes the space more functional for Upchurch’s two children when they are home from college.

   “This is my living space … it’s just the right amount of space,” says the happy homeowner.

   For Upchurch, rejuvenating her new space required a few special plays: working with someone she adores, redesigning for entertaining and delving into a fresh new color palette — translating into a sure-fire home run on the home front.

Sleek furnishings, artistic wall treatments and luxurious appointments contribute to this home's cultivated allure (top). Pendant teardrop lighting offers subtle visual interest (bottom).

Bright Ideas

   Brenda Upchurch’s home has a unique exhibition of lighting. Around every corner is a new chandelier or sconce that is more fascinating than the last.

   Wilson Lighting assisted with the pieces, but Janet Alholm curated.

   “I always think outside of the box,” she says.


  • The guest bath features bright modern sconces among a series of three square mirrors.


  • Master bath adorns a whimsical tree-branch chandelier, Brenda’s favorite.


  • Salon rests under a large colonial chandelier


  • Spiral iron and glass chandelier over the kitchen island


  • Bubbling drop lights over the basement bar