Kansas City via Oklahoma

Kim and Ron Coker have a décor that continues to be a celebration. On the surface, the seasons and holidays make their appearance year-round, but underneath is a family history and homage that exudes a sense of comfort and home.

Originally from Oklahoma, these Kansas City transplants are finally settled into their Hallbrook home in Leawood, which they renovated three years ago.

While the windows and carpet are original to the home, “everything else has been touched, whether or not it’s been painted — there is all new tile, all new hardware,” says Kim. It’s a declaration that suggests the renovation was no easy task, but carefully considered for the home of a designer.


Eat In

The couple designed the updates themselves with Kim, a well-known interior decorator by day, lining up the subcontractors. Most notable of the home’s facelift is the kitchen — Kim’s favorite room.

Paired with a small sitting room and two televisions (a marital compromise according to Kim) is a breathtaking kitchen. Designed to satisfy all the accoutrements of a chef’s kitchen, the space was given an entirely new layout, taking renovations down to the studs.

The room is punctuated by the large island that rests between floor-to-ceiling china cabinets filled with family heirlooms and state-of-the-art appliances. The island’s salt-and-pepper granite is a complement to the creamy custom cabinetry.

“I knew I wanted something black and white, something classic without using marble,” says Kim. “I wanted something that was balanced.” The Delicatus granite was chosen to keep the room a blank canvas for rotating seasonal décor. The cabinetry is also a backdrop, but subtly rich with its beading and chocolate/espresso stain shining through on the edges.

“My intent was to keep this room very neutral, which is different for me, because I like to change the color for the holidays or for the season,” she says.

Holiday hoopla

The living room and Kim’s office accentuate her French country style that is also anchored with classic pieces and treasured family items.

Finding Direction

After reading an article about the Gallup Map Company in Kansas City, Mo., selling old maps from the rafters, Kim Coker headed downtown in hopes of finding a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for her husband Ron.

After meeting with owner Pat Carroll, Kim uncovered a treasure trove of old antique maps; what would have been a gift turned into a prized possession for the couple.

Ron, who works with Burns & McDonnell and is currently serving as the chair of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, quickly became immersed in the city.

“Even though we’re not from here, his first major project was for the city of Kansas City, Missouri, so he really dove into this community,” says Kim. She wanted to find a map that would represent his new roots but what she found was more than that.
It is an “actual piece of the real, thick vellum. That is hand-drawn, all original … so truly a piece of art,” says Kim of an old large map of Kansas City. “This is one of the biggest and the coolest that [Carroll] liked personally.”

Today, the showstopper is displayed in the Cokers’ living room and captured in a beautiful frame, also done by Carroll. But around the corner is the kicker — a map of Oklahoma, which Kim displays prominently.

Bountiful, plump pillows rest on beautiful furnishings under faux painted beams and new crown molding. Big bright windows are flanked by custom drapes that offers a peek out to a lush green landscape.

“When somebody walks into my home, the first thing I want them to say is, ‘It’s a very warm and inviting home’ … but I still like it to be pretty,” says Kim of the frills, fringe and touch of leopard she favors here and there.

Prominently displayed among the formal living room are touches of fall.

“What I do for fall is everybody else’s Christmas; what I do for Christmas is ridiculous,” she says.

As an interior decorator, she’s always had a knack for holiday décor, but as Coker notes, “it just obviously has taken me over.”

When the Coker family moved into their new home, fall was underway and construction was yet to be completed. The holidays were the least of Kim’s worries.

“I really didn’t do anything and here comes Christmas — we’re still in construction, I’m just kind of over it — but my kids about died,” says Kim. “So we were decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, and I thought, ‘Okay, they do really like all these things.’”

Today, fall items are still propped in her office as if they are understudies for other players that may rotate a few more times before any holiday arrives.

Antique touch

Having collected antiques for years, Kim appreciates the chance to repurpose these items — either for seasonal décor or home interiors.

“People shouldn’t be scared if they find something they love at an antique store,” she says, adding that frames are prime candidates and fun to reuse.

A recent find — an old sugar bucket — met with with a few odd looks from Kim’s oldest daughter, but despite the scrutiny, she snatched it up.

“It’s an ugly-looking thing in a way, and also beautiful in a way,” she says. “I knew it had the tones and the thought for me, for sugar — Halloween. So I wanted to either do an arrangement for Halloween in it or to fill it with candy — do something fun.”

As a result Kim’s scavenger prowess lends itself to her philosophy when designing for clients.

“It’s very easy for me to walk into a Pottery Barn, if that’s your style, and completely decorate your home,” she says. “I can do it like that, but I won’t, I refuse. I always let them know I’m coming in, I am digging in your cabinets, I am going in your basement. I’ll pull out things that you’ll think what in the heck is she going to use that for?”

This approach is apparent in Kim’s own home, even down to hallways and small nooks and crannies. Beyond the vintage deals though, her must-shops include Nell Hills, KC Surroundings, Seville Home and a handful of stores back home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Remembering home

Throughout the house, Kim and Ron have preserved family heirlooms, treasures and memories of their lives from Oklahoma.

Kim’s Top Ten Design Tricks and Tips For The Holidays

1. Use chenille stems (pipe cleaners) for attaching garlands, bows and floral items. It is stiff enough for support and soft enough to not scratch mantels and railings.

2. Don’t move many things out to put holiday in: layer it in. “In my personal style of decorating it makes it feel warmer to me. When the major holidays are over, I’m ready for it to all come down, and it feels a little sparse, but that is what winter feels like.”

3. Use accent lighting. “My girls love the feeling in the fall of coming home from school when all of the “little” lights are on, and there is usually a candle burning. The battery-operated candles are great in cabinets with glass doors, on bookshelves or places where you would worry about an open flame.”

4. Scents play a big part in holiday decorating, but they’re impossible to capture in photos. Consider melted wax plug-ins. Yankee Candle has great options.

5. Keep favorite bowls, vases, lanterns or containers out all year and just switch out the contents to fit the season; place faux pomegranates and a few twigs that have fallen from trees in the yard in a silver bowl. Winter could be pinecones and a few snips of an evergreen bush.

6. Candies matching holiday or seasonal colors placed in a covered dish make a sweet way to welcome visitors.

7. Don’t spend a lot of money to transform your home for the holidays. Antique stores, thrift stores, yard sales and clearance-type stores double as great places to grab an item to use as a vessel for seasonal faux stems (“They have come a long way!”).

8. Use favorite photos from past seasons. “I pull out old pumpkin patch photos of my kids during fall, and during Christmas I have my grandparents’ wedding photo out, because they were married on Christmas Eve and the photo was taken in front of a Christmas tree.”

9. Use old glass ornaments that once graced a grandparents’ tree. “I put them in vases and bowls — I love them so much I started collecting them from yard sales and antique stores.”

10. Change out the ribbon or add berries for the season on florals that stay up all year.

“As much as I have grown to love Kansas City, I am an Oklahoma girl,” says Kim.

These Okies adore their parents and grandparents’ belongings, which is clear to see when first walking into the home and being welcomed by “Arnie the Antelope.” Shot by Ron’s father on a hunting trip, the pair fell in love with the animal and cherishes its symbolism after losing Ron’s father shortly after their move to Kansas City. Kim however, borrowing from another designer, has considered putting a wreath around Arnie come Christmas.

Passing into the living room, four antique plates of Ron’s great-grandmother’s surround an illustrated piece of their daughters, Madison, 16, and Gracie, 14, which was hand-drawn by Kim’s father for her birthday.

“There’s a lot of stuff that you wouldn’t know,” says Kim of the family items incorporated throughout the house. A timeworn clock, various pieces of artwork, old pictures, a silver punch bowl, old law books and crystal that were handed down … interesting artifacts, each with a story.

In the basement, which includes a guest bedroom, full bath and a small kitchen, is one of two antique scales reminiscent of Ron’s childhood.
“My father-in-law used to own a ranch in Miami, Oklahoma on Spring River and Ronnie said that was in the barn his entire lifetime,” says Kim.

Their appreciation for these unique pieces is what brings the Coker décor together — and it’s Kim’s deft and creative touch that makes them fantastic.

The home, which is one in a long line of homes for the Cokers, has become a symbol of their new life in Kansas City with plenty of reminders of their old life. When asked if she styled her home around their heirlooms, Kim says, “No, my theme evolved to fit in.”