The Grand Finale
For Cindy and Arthur Liebenthal, finding the perfect empty nest was a five-year endeavor that landed them in a beautiful villa perched in the lush green space of Leawood’s Tuscany Reserve.
“One of the reasons that we fell in love with this lot was because of this open area. We really love having all these windows — we love nature,” says Cindy of the spectacular views and location.
The Liebenthal family has had roots in Kansas City for more than 30 years, but once the children were gone, it was time for something different. The reverse story-and-a-half home with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths was almost a turnkey find for the couple. The only thing missing was a new style that fit into the home they fell in love with.
“This is quite a bit different than any style we’ve had before,” says Cindy “I think it’s sort of a modern Mediterranean.”
One former owner of the home was an interior designer and built it with details and structure in mind. For the Liebenthals, this was not only evident, but also appreciated.
“This house was already a beautiful house,” says Arthur. “We could tell from the minute we walked in the workmanship was excellent. We saw details in this house that we had not seen anywhere — we looked in areas like Hallbrook and LionsGate — the detail in this house from the molding to the quality of fixtures to the doors was amazing compared to anything we had seen.”
After selling their former home in a day and a half, it was crunch time to move in and find a new style.
Enter Twigs Interiors and Lisa Mermis, designer and Twigs owner. What the Liebenthals brought from their old home was repurposed with a Mediterranean/Tuscan style, and what they didn’t have, Twigs filled in.
Good Things/Small Packages
Located off the Liebenthal kitchen is a small alcove that Cindy was quick to claim when they found the new home.
“Which I absolutely beyond love!” she exclaims.
“I have never loved such a small space in my whole life,” says Cindy. “I had said that I wanted a nice big bulletin cork board and I am thrilled with how it was framed.”
The pièce de résistance is a small-framed princess picture of their puppy, Maggie, which was a gift from Twigs. Turns out Cindy and Arthur made up only two of the three decision-makers when it came to feathering their empty nest.
“I had said that I want it to be pretty and elegant but functional, warm and comfortable,” says Cindy. “I wanted all of our rooms to feel inviting and keep with the foundation that was already present.”
That foundation consisted of beautiful flooring, ornate granite columns, detailed vanities and large picture windows — items they wanted to play up.
Cindy, a connoisseur of contemporary art, wanted to be sure they incorporated some of their favorite pieces into the new décor.
“If there was any way possible that we could mix new and old, that was really what I wanted to do,” she says.
A quick solution for this was reframing. Many pieces throughout the home were given new life with a new frame. Even tables and favorite chairs were redone or recovered.
“I showed Lisa a lot of our artwork that I wished we could use and she said this is perfect,” says Cindy. “We framed it and we really love it in this new setting.”
Peppered throughout the house are a few antiques that belonged to Cindy’s grandmother. Loving the effect these pieces have had among their bright artwork and earth tone décor, Cindy tips her hat to their designer.
“Twigs just went through our belongings!” she says. “They went through our stuff and pulled all these things out that I thought I would never incorporate and I love — who would think of that?”
Two such treasures are the hope chest and antique china cabinet found in the lower level’s guest room. To update the china cabinet, their interior designer antiqued the piece to match a newer nightstand in the room.
“It was a piece that I always, always loved,” says Cindy, emphasizing her appreciation for the brilliant repurposing of the pieces by Twigs.
For the Liebenthals, who enjoy entertaining, the downstairs is mostly referred to as their “party room.”
Favorite Rooms: His and Hers
When Cindy and Arthur Liebenthal found their new home in Leawood’s Tuscany Reserve, a quick style renovation was in order. What they didn’t expect was the breakneck speed at which they and their designer, Lisa Mermis of Twigs Interiors, would operate.
The transformation was fast. While the two were off to Boston to visit their son, Twigs came in and staged the entire home.
“This is our third house and we’ve worked with designers before,” says Cindy. “We have a good feel for what we like when we see it.”
Finding their favorite spots among the quick redesign was a pleasant surprise after meeting deadlines and choosing fabrics.
For Cindy, it was her new reading nooks.
“I love to read, so I have my reading spots,” she says. “I love coming down in the swivel chair and when it’s winter I love looking out the windows. If it’s snowing, I turn on the fire, and I find that very cozy.”
Arthur agrees that the outdoors adds to the appreciation of a favorite room.
“I like being in my office,” he says. “I’ve got nice views there, which makes it relaxing so even if I am working I look out and there’s a sense of serenity.”
Here a large bar, wine cellar, inviting seating around a fireplace and a card table welcome visitors to the space. Cindy is quick to point out some of the major accoutrements, such as the gas fireplace and the outdoor patio beyond the lower level’s doors.
“This is the room where we can have a lot of seating, you’ve got the bar, I play in a lot of card games and I love having a card table looking outside,” says Cindy.
Off to one side of the room is Arthur’s office, which can also be converted back into a bedroom once their family grows to include grandchildren. A partially finished exercise room rounds out the basement along with more of their favorite art pieces.
A gallery wall anchors the room, which Cindy and Arthur hadn’t expected until they saw the finished product.
“I had all these big pictures of my parents, our family pictures and I was absolutely thrilled that they put together this area to which we can always add,” says Cindy.
Complementing the home’s décor is the open floor plan.
“The other thing that we really liked about this house were the archways because you never feel like you’re in a square — it makes it feel like something is leading elsewhere by virtue of the archways,” says Arthur.
Rooms flow into the next and large windows provide ample light and help bring the outdoors in. The great room, which is at the heart of the home, acts as a bit of a gallery, tipping off the Liebenthals’ new style while also displaying many of their favorite works of art.
The kitchen, hearth room and breakfast nook, which share a fireplace with the great room, has become Cindy’s cozy room. Resting in front of the fireplace and a custom chest for TV electronics is a modern, lux leather sectional.
“I wanted to be able to seat as many people as possible in this small space and have something sleek,” says Cindy.
For Arthur and Cindy, the home has become a unique experience in finding a fresh style later in life.
As Cindy aptly notes, “When you leave and come home, you should feel good about coming back.”
It’s safe to say, they do.