Home on the Plains



Nancy and Lane Walker built their log cabin-inspired home in Overland Park eight and half years ago. The plan was always to finish the basement, but not until they could complete it to their exact desires. Nancy, a Sooner fan from Oklahoma drew inspiration from what she knew best — cowboy country.

Nancy and Lane Walker wanted their basement to be an extension of their rustic cowboy style, but with a touch of Native American décor. 

“When we first started talking about building a house, I said, ‘What do you think about log houses and stuff?’” she says. “As a kid I grew up watching all these westerns on TV, I was in love with the Cartwrights. I’ve always loved that kind of style. So when we talked about it, Lane said, ‘You know, I like that.’”

The western theme throughout their home continued in their newly remodeled basement, paying homage to Native American heritage. With any construction or remodel, hiccups are expected, but for this couple, finding interiors would be the ultimate battle.

“I don’t think we could anticipate how difficult it was going to be to decorate this style of home,” says Nancy. “We found that to be the biggest challenge.”

As a result, Nancy and Lane, along with interior decorator Linda Carroll, scoured the Internet, took suggestions from friends and followed their hearts to Colorado, Texas, and even Las Vegas, to decorate the magnificent space.

 

The Art of Choosing Artwork

The rustic basement exudes the energy of a gallery, and lends itself to the fine artwork which graces and brightens the space. Colorful scenes of cowboys, striking renditions of Native Americans and vibrant images of the West add unique ambiance to the lower level.

“We were nuts about the artists that we found and their art,” says Nancy. “What we didn’t know was how to go about getting it.”

Carroll led the couple to Mia Harris at Leawood Fine Art Gallery. While the gallery didn’t have any of the pieces Nancy had found, it had the ability to make the connections. The couple fell in love with Colorado artist Carrie Fell because her vibrant pieces of cowboys and Indian chiefs instantly spoke to them.

Behind the beautiful granite bar is an image of three cowboys nearly riding off the canvas; in Nancy’s petite yet well-equipped workout room, another cowboy reaches for the stars; and as guests descend the staircase, they are greeted by “Quanah Parker.” There is a fourth piece upstairs.

Once they connected with Fell, they told her which pieces they wanted to see.

“Her representative talked to Carrie, and she said, ‘I’m going put a whole bunch of this art on a truck and have two guys drive to Kansas,’” says Nancy. Somewhat shocked, Nancy responded “She’s sending a truck with two guys and a bunch of art? What if we don’t buy a single piece?”

Four pieces later, the Walkers have come to love Fell’s whimsical interpretation of western life.

Tucked in the small reading nook is a beautiful Howard Terpning piece depicting a Native American family. Terpning, well known for his work on movie posters such as “Gone With the Wind,” traded commercial artwork for the American West in the early ’70s.

Nancy and Lane had been on the hunt, which came to end faster than they expected. Turns out their builder, Tim French, had some of Terpning’s work and was looking to share his collection. The Walkers acquired a piece that fit perfectly with their new collection.

“He got it,” says Nancy of French understanding their vision. “He loves Colorado, too.”

Left: “Quanah Parker” by Carrie Fell is an electric piece greeting guests as they enter
the basement.
Center: Beautiful pendant lights in sunshine hues pepper the space.
Right: A painting by Gladys Morante was found at Leawood Fine Art Gallery.

 

Buffalo Nickels and Arrowheads

The footprint of the unfinished basement included a plumed, elongated wall, which was designed to accommodate a bar. But before the remodel even began, Nancy and Lane had decided to move the bar, allowing guests to enjoy the room instead of a wall.

The wall was left alone, waiting for a revelation — a shuffling revelation.

Lane Walker makes no bones about the fact that the custom shuffleboard table, made with turquoise and copper, is his favorite piece in the basement.

After learning of the famed Cowboy Christmas Gift Show associated with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, the couple headed west to see what they could find.

“We’re talking artists, sculptures, clothing, jewelry that just knocks your socks off,” says Nancy. “That’s where we met Benito Loera who made the shuffleboard table.”

The custom mesquite 18-foot shuffleboard with inlaid turquoise and copper is truly the pièce de résistance in their basement.

They told Loera, “We’re keeping this rustic, but I would like buffalo nickel in the middle,” says Nancy.

Almost as fascinating as the piece itself are the tiny arrowhead scoring pointers within the table. While working with another subcontractor, who happened to be half Mohawk Indian, the couple learned of his arrowhead collection.

“He brought them out here in a shadow box and we bought them from him, and we shipped them to Texas for Benito to inlay them in the table,” says Nancy.

As a token of his gratitude, Benito even made custom pucks for the game that have buffalo nickels and Indian head coins on the top.

 

Glass Surprises

Above the ornate shuffleboard, another fascinating art installation requests attention.

“People would always ask, ‘What’s going up there?’ and I would say, ‘art glass,’” laughs Nancy, admitting her guests were expecting Chihuly-like pieces.

While searching for sconces to put on either end of the wall to anchor the shuffleboard, the couple discovered Colorado artist Doug Rich, who created unique pieces of glass donned by various glyph drawings.

“I found these [sconces] on his website and I said that’s it,” Nancy says. “I want to see how I can see these in person. We decided we were going to get on a plane and go to Golden, Colorado.”

In an ironic twist, Lane also visited with a friend prior to meeting Rich, saw a pendant light in his office and knew exactly what he was looking at — all the more reason to head west.

Rich, who is not Native American but lived on a reservation for a number of years, draws inspiration from his experience to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art, forged in glass that are truly magnificent.

“I told him, ‘We have this space, we want something cool, we want glass,’” says Nancy.

The handmade collection includes hanging pendants, beads, glyphs, and one large blue and yellow piece that was inspired by an Elk Robe. Rich even hand-forged all of the hangers that mimic iron stakes, horns and such. Once it was ready, Rich traveled to Kansas to hang the various pieces.

“The day he came with all these boxes, every box was a surprise,” says Nancy.

The basement was predominatly furnished with pieces from The Arrangement in Dallas, where the Walkers often visited to find just what they were looking for.

 

photos: William & Jill DiMartino