Couple renovates 116-year-old Spring Hill house into a family gathering spot.
Frank and Ruan Crail knew it would be an ordeal renovating a Spring Hill, Kansas, farmhouse they purchased sight unseen in June 2014, but they had no idea what was really in store for them.
What made the project especially challenging was the fact that the Crails oversaw it from San Diego, where they also have a home. They bought the farmhouse to live several months of the year near their daughter and her family, who live in Olathe.
They saw pictures online of the farmhouse, built in 1900, and its barn, built 20 years earlier, and immediately fell in love with the overall charm of the 5-acre property. Turns out, however, that the property was in escrow, but their daughter drove by it anyway and gave it her thumbs-up.
Luckily, the original deal eventually fell through, so the Crails snatched it up. They first saw the house when they came to town to close escrow in August 2014. Their first reaction? Wow. Not only because of the property’s potential, but because of all the work that needed to be done.
Turns out the farmhouse needed a complete overhaul.
“We knew it was going to be rough, but we didn’t know how rough,” says Ruan, pronounced Roo Ann, while sitting in the home’s cozy living room with Frank. “Pretty much everything was wrong with it. The electrical, the plumbing. It had some places where there was first-generation electrical down in the basement. The plumbing had to be completely redone. There was no air conditioning.”
The roof also needed to be replaced. Although the size of the main living area was kept the same, the space was opened up to make one large, continuous room. The doorway leading to the basement in the main living area was removed to the outside. Essentially, the whole house needed to be gutted.
But one year later, last August, when the Crails were able to finally move into the five-bedroom home, they realized all the work, worry and frustration were worth it. When their seven children and their spouses, and their 10 grandchildren all gathered around in the spacious kitchen last Thanksgiving, they felt they had indeed found their second home.
“It is everything we hoped it would be,” says Frank, the founder and CEO of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
The Crails had much local help along their renovation route, heaping praise on the services of builder Scott Ault and designer Kelly Lewis of Ault Design and Construction in Lee’s Summit. They also became good friends with decorator Zakk Hoyt, of Nell Hill’s, a home furnishings store with locations in Kansas City and Atchison.
“I actually didn’t meet Frank and Ruan for the first month and a half in the process,” Hoyt says. “We were doing everything via text messages and Pinterest. They were just the warmest people. They exuded kindness and joy. I love that they had seen the potential in this beat-up old property and that they persevered. I really wanted it to be warm and inviting, and a place where the whole family could come together and have fun. We tried to use a lot of whimsy in the house. We wanted color so that it was always cheerful. They’re gutsy, too. They went crazy with wallpaper, which was a lot of fun.”
On trips to Kansas City, Ruan and Hoyt had lots of fun scouring the metro to furnish the home. The Crails literally came from San Diego with one picture, their 8-year-old Labrador and some clothes.
“It was really an adventure,” Ruan says. “I needed to buy plates and silverware, towels and everything.”
Major pieces of furniture came from Nell Hill’s, except for antique pieces they found. The store also supplied fabrics and wallpaper. Hoyt’s favorite antique shop, Morning Glory Antiques in Westport, supplied many accessories. Many of the lamps came from Lampature in Brookside. Hoyt also loves J’Adore Home & Garden in Brookside and Mission Road Antique Mall in Corinth Square and the shops in the West Bottoms. Draperies were supplied by Weave Gotcha Covered in Midtown.
“We really wanted it to feel like a collected home,” Hoyt says.
Many original features of the home were able to remain, such as the living room fireplace, register exchanges, upstairs oak flooring and some doors. Ault hand-matched the trim downstairs to the trim upstairs, which was the original trim in the house.
The Crails can’t wait to repeatedly fill the home with their large family. Already the happy owners of a dog and two cats, their grandchildren especially want to add animals like a donkey and chickens to the mix.
In the end, their leap of faith in this mammoth undertaking was worth it.
“We love it,” says Ruan of the finished project. “We loved it even when it was a disaster.”
●All the paints used in the farmhouse are from Benjamin Moore. The main floor is Navajo White. The blue master bedroom is Van Deusen Blue. An upstairs bedroom is painted Deep Carnation on the ceiling and Navajo White on the walls. Another bedroom is painted in Moonlight.
●aThe living room sofa and chairs are by CR Laine, custom designed by Nell Hill’s. The chairs are upholstered in a velvet called Kate Ivy, and the drapery is a fabric called Royal Courtyard Blush.
● Sitting-area chairs are also by CR Laine, custom designed by Nell Hill’s. The fabric is Venice Raspberry.
● Upstairs bathroom wallpaper is Birds & Butterflies by Schumacher.