Designer Julie Arnold creates a sustainable, modern home for her family in a wooded area just north of the river

Photography by Julie Arnold

As a young couple, Julie and Christian Arnold enjoyed loft living and being able to walk to shops. But as their family started to grow, they knew they needed a little more room and outdoor space for their kids to play and explore.

They were able to find the perfect mix in Old Briarcliff, just north of the river. They found a piece of property in a wooded area that backed up to the Kansas City Park Reserve and was within walking distance of shops at The Village at Briarcliff

“It’s a very steep lot and probably a little daunting for most,” says Julie, an interior and product designer, and owner of PLACE Interiors. “We were drawn to the natural setting that backs up to a park preserve that feels so secluded yet five minutes to downtown.”

Christian is an architect, and the property offered close proximity to downtown Kansas City and his firm, Clockwork Architecture, in the River Market. It also fit well with Julie’s business, Create Place, which offers “creative direction, design and styling” with a focus on telling her client’s story.

The two-story house sits partially on stilts and jets out into the trees, not unlike a treehouse.

“That’s our favorite part—seeing the trees changing out the windows or from the terrace and the natural light that comes through all the windows,” Julie says. 

The main floor, which encompasses the kitchen, dining and living areas, is an open area that’s “flooded with natural light.” The home’s inspiration came from the couple’s “loft living in Boston and Kansas City,” says Julie, who grew up in a small town in Kansas but studied interior architecture, product and furniture design at Boston Architectural College.

“We wanted to incorporate open living spaces to engage in family activities,” Julie says. “We deliberately kept the children’s bedrooms smaller to focus more on larger family spaces.”

The home is just 2,500 square feet, and the Arnolds aimed to make it sustainable by using salvaged and repurposed materials and objects when possible.

The office nook

Photography by Wildwood Photography

The Arnolds built an open nook—like a closet without a door—in the office that holds a desk and computer. This dedicated homework space can be concealed with a curtain when not in use.

The office

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Just as it would be in a loft, office space was carved out of the main living area using a partition that doesn’t reach the ceiling. However, the Arnolds’ unique partition is like a freestanding sculpture and was created by weaving thinly cut walnut pieces into an open basket weave pattern. The rich wood pattern not only adds depth, texture and a bit of privacy but also lets in light. 

With a couch and large wood desk, the office is a place to be away from the action of the main living area while still being close enough to feel a part of it all.

With its simple blue-on-blue stencil pattern, the wall behind the desk also becomes a piece of art.

The dining area

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Julie designed the large dining table and commissioned a local craftsman to build it using salvaged wood, then finished it herself. She also made the two large light pendants that hang above the table by creating a wire form and draping them with the same fabric she used to conceal the office nook.

The kitchen

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Quartz countertops and cabinets with a simple walnut veneer create a streamlined, modern kitchen that’s open to the rest of the living area.

“I love to cook, so having a kitchen that opens up to the living and dining rooms makes me feel connected to all the other activities,” Julie says. 

The main living area

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Julie describes her style as a “refined, natural aesthetic, often mixing in sustainable and vintage furniture and finishes.” She adds that her “guiding inspiration comes from the simplicity of Scandinavian design, mid-century classics, nature and travel.”

Those elements are apparent throughout her entire home. One of her home’s signature pieces is a mid-century credenza flanked by two Eames chairs.

Mother and son

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Julie and her fourteen-year-old son James recently won a design contest with Lucent Lightshop for their Haven Sconce design that Julie will soon be installing in her home’s master bedroom. 

Her son had been learning modeling programs for some of his product design ideas, and she thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to develop his skills further. An added bonus was the promise that ten percent of the product’s sales will go to the design winner’s chosen charity.

“I chose HALO because I was so inspired by the important work they do for at-risk and homeless youth,” Julie says. 

Julie has worked with HALO for several years in a variety of the art programs they provide for at-risk youth. “Currently, the products I’m working on with them are handcrafted reclaimed wood serving trays,” she says. 

Youth in the HALOmakers Program are learning the entire process of making the tray, from conception to finding the perfect piece of wood to creating the tray and selling it.

The Bell

Photography by Julie Arnold, Tara Shupe and Sarah Sweeney.

Julie bought the hammered bell in a shop while traveling through Salt Lake City. She hung the bell on a wall right next to a door leading to the outdoor terrace with the idea that she could ring it to let her children know it was time to come in. “I liked the idea of ringing the bell when my kids were out playing in the forest,” she says.

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