Rockwood Falls Show Home

Best in Show

Today’s dream home is more than a dream. It’s a fantasy that begins with luxurious details, state-of-the-art amenities and an all-star cast of creators; all to end on a stage of goodwill and commemoration.

The Rockwood Falls Show Home in Overland Park is this season’s “it girl” production featuring all the usual players and celebrating the philanthropic endeavors of its neighbor, the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Under the  Spotlight

The Rockwood Falls Show Home, decorated by Janet Alholm in collaboration with the homeowners, truly shines as a study in lighting from Wilson Lighting. From metropolitan to classic and the unexpected, every piece of illumination in the home is imaginative and perfectly placed.

“It is a little more open, iron with a more streamlined looked,” Alholm says of the lighting. “It’s a very new look.”

The foyer channels old world charm with a grand lantern chandelier, but interests will be piqued by the hovering cylinder in the library—once again mixing nouveau with tradition. The Edison sconces shine, drawing attention to the various design details in one room.

Around the corner one of two pendant lights is masked with an oversized, upside-down fabric shade, creating a play on light in the powder room.

But the piece de resistance is the iron chandelier in the great room. Molded to the illusion of a floating ball, it’s as if arrows are holding up each one of the exposed bulbs with one tiny crystal ball centering the piece at the bottom. Its effect is nothing short of spectacular in its suspension from the pine beams. 

“It’s a hidden gem out here that nobody knows about,” says Mark Simpson, co-developer of Rockwood Falls along with Saul Ellis, a duo well known throughout the city for neighborhoods like Hallbrook Farms and LionsGate. “We said, ‘you know we just need to do a show home out here that shows people what can be done with this beautiful wooded land.’”


Creative collaboration

What architect Scott Bickford, builder Jeff Ashner and interior designer Janet Alholm did next was create one of Kansas City’s most intriguing homes that is suited for a family, designed for entertaining and situated in Rockwood’s lush nature preserve.

“I really like watching the site transform because it’s such a cool site,” says Ashner. “In Rockwood you really can’t appreciate it until you get in the house and can see what you’ve got.”

A Leading Cast

A great deal of support was provided for the Show Home, creating a team-like approach to the home that will ideally raise enough money to fulfill the final phase of the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park’s capital campaign, The Train Garden.

The cast includes:
Architect—Scott Bickford
Builder—Jeff Ashner
Interior Designer—Janet Alholm
Pool and Landscape—Epic, John Constant
Home Theater—Factory Direct Appliance

Supporting cast of sponsors:
Capital City Bank
The Arts & Recreation Foundation
     of Overland Park
Rockwood Falls
Aristocrat Motors
Reece Nichols
435 South Magazine

The two-acre lot is elongated, allowing the design team to angle the home and create an outdoor living room that shares views of a nearby pond and fountain, as well as the sustained natural landscape. One might mistake the area for a Front Range vista with hints of Colorado hidden among the property.

The 5,200-square-foot home features five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. The flow is far from overstated, offering a “come on in” appeal that is filled with well-chosen furnishings courtesy of Seville Home. Alholm pulled the varying inspirations together to create a clean look with savvy transition in the house that is anything but contemporary.

“The buyer was more streamlined than what the exterior called for and I thought that was great,” says Alholm. “Because that brings in a whole new element of what I think the design is going toward—not quite so Tuscany.”

Throughout the home, the design called for a gray backdrop allowing for pops of color and city-chic details. Traditional pieces in red, black and bark are punctuated with stainless steel and chrome nail heads for a “new” look.

“It shows how the house can, with the monochromatic walls, introduce a lot of color,” says Alholm.


Nature meets sophistication

The home’s blueprint is a reverse one-and-a-half story plan that is fitting for this new style in sophistication. At first entrance, one sees the grandeur of the space, but is quickly introduced to its comfort. Large pine beams stained black create a shelter in the great room where they mesh with three large picture windows and the two sizeable mirrors hugging the mantle.

Opposite this playful arrangement is an open kitchen that is outfitted with charcoal-stained cabinetry and well-positioned Wolf appliances. Such design suggests the owners enjoy entertaining and opening their home, making this particular project all the more appropriate for a Show Home.

Behind the kitchen and off the breakfast nook is a media room waiting for family night and bowls of popcorn. Pocket doors can separate the media room, making it just as functional as it is enjoyable.

“It’s a perfect, perfect design because the eating area can go into the media room and if the children have on something too loud, you just shut the doors,” says Alholm.

Function was also key in designing the mudroom, laundry room, an outdoor drop closet for deliveries, butler’s pantry and passages among rooms.

One room, perched on the second floor along with three bedrooms, serves as an art studio for the owner. A vintage, long table anchors the room with eight backless stools placed around it, suggestive of a sense of family. Alholm attests to the space’s versatility, making it a playroom, hobby room or in this case, an art studio.

“That’s what everybody loves about a bonus room—it’s everybody’s heart’s desire,” she says.

Opening Night

While the Rockwood Falls Estate Show Home festivities kicked off with a fundraiser, STEMS: a Garden Soiree on June 23, the home opened to the public for tours on June 29. Open weekends, including Fridays, the event will run through July 15. Tickets are $10. If purchased through sponsors: Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Aristocrat Motors, Capital City Bank, Factory Direct Appliance, Seville Home or Wilson Lighting, patrons will receive as $2 coupon toward their ticket. Likewise, STEMS tickets can also be used to view the Show Home on an eligible weekend.

“In the nonprofit world we use the term ‘get’; I think everybody gets it and they have really pushed forward to do that and it has been a tremendous gift for the foundation to have this opportunity,” says Teresa Stohs, executive director of The Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park, on the Show Home team.

Order tickets through Rockwood Falls,, or The Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park,

The home’s space extends to an outdoor living room on an airy patio providing picturesque views of Rockwood Falls’ spectacular natural panorama. Here Alholm places seating and a cocktail table opposite an outdoor fireplace to encourage lingering among guests.

Outdoor embrace

Subtly placed to the west corner of the home is an elegant swimming pool that has a European appeal. While pool parties and barbeques may soon surround it, for now the rectangular pool boasts large planters on all sides and wide steps for dipping. Unique to Overland Park’s ordinance the pool was built with an automatic cover, allowing landscape and pool designer, Epic, to avoid putting up a fence and take advantage of adding more greenery around the home—a smooth transition from the development’s existing trees and wooded areas.

Nature is a cornerstone at Rockwood Falls in which many homeowners bask. Roughly 150 feet of natural preserve is kept between each lot; the intent behind this caveat is to maintain privacy but also encourage relationships through the development’s various offerings such as the community barn, row house (complete with paddle boats and canoes) and a three-mile trail that snakes through the entire 240 acres. All are punctuated by nature posts, teaching more about birds and vegetation seen along the path.

“Everything out here is just a little bit of a masterpiece,” says Simpson.

And that includes everything manmade—and Mother Nature-made.


photos: William & Jill DiMartino