Great Rooms are a New Trend in Home Design—Here are 3 Local Design Projects with Them

Laura Foote Photography

For designing duo Janna Coglizer and Megan Shepherd, the Covid lockdown was a defining moment. Stuck at home, these corporate world co-workers and good friends concluded it was time to recalibrate.

“Covid was a reset for both of us,” Coglizer says. Working from home without the office buzz, Coglizer was left with just her work and the realization that it was the people she worked with who made her professional work life interesting. She thought, ‘This is what I do?’ Coglizer wanted to do work that she felt more passionate about. 

Her longtime friend Shepherd, who worked for the same software technology company as Coglizer, came to a similar conclusion: “Life is very short, and how are we spending our time? Does this bring us joy?” Shepherd’s job in the corporate world wasn’t doing it for her, either.

Shepherd and Coglizer had been remodeling and designing spaces on the side. Finally, they decided to follow their passion for design and build a business with one mission in mind: Love your home. That’s how their design business Mid-West & Co. was born.

“How we spend our time is very important; our homes are very important,” says Shepherd, who describes their style as a combination of mid-century modern, Western and Southwestern styles.

Their objective is to incorporate these ideals into all their designs, and that most often starts with a combination kitchen and living space or “great room.” This trend of kitchens and living areas melding into one vast space without walls, where families cook, entertain and work together, continues to gain in popularity. 

“The great room is the heart of the home,” Shepherd says. “It serves as more than just a living room or formal sitting room. Our goal is to create a cozy yet functional space that the entire family can enjoy together.”

And that’s exactly what Mid-West & Co. is doing.

The McKenzie House

Laura Foote Photography

Jennifer and Nick McKenzie, who have three young children, bought their 1990s Overland Park home just over a year and a half ago. It needed to be not only updated but also transformed into a space where the McKenzies could comfortably live their daily lives and entertain.

Coglizer and Shepherd came in and completely gutted the space, altering the layout to fit the family’s needs.

“It’s a traditional house and they were able to update the space, give it a modern edge, but still have it blend with the rest of the house,” Jennifer says.

The light fixtures and hardware, for instance, are trendy yet classic, fitting with other traditional elements in the home.

For the kitchen island, Coglizer and Shepherd designed a half-octagon shape rather than the ubiquitous rectangle, creating additional usable counter space and making it easy to work in the kitchen, keep an eye on kids and socialize all at the same time.

The McKenzie’s kitchen and great room are a mix of down-home comforts, such as raw wood beams, Windsor spindle dining chairs, glam touches of shiny brass drawer pulls and a gold sunburst mirror above the fireplace.

Laura Foote Photography

The built-in bar that sits in between the kitchen and living area is stained a warm brown color, mimicking that of the island but serving as a contrast with the white kitchen cabinets. 

The backsplash was created using white and gold tiles, giving the bar area an adult, sophisticated feel even with kids playing nearby.

The Coulter House

Laura Foote Photography

Although a very beautiful, traditional Leawood home, Kerry and Whitney Coulter didn’t feel like their home quite reflected their style, says Shepherd, who grew up with Kerry.

“It didn’t feel like home to them,” Coglizer says.

Coglizer and Shepherd were able to update the space without changing the footprint of the kitchen and great room. They gave it a more modern color scheme by trading out countertops, tile, fixtures and other hardware throughout the space. 

“Several of our choices in this house were bold and unique but not too dramatic—we wanted to make sure it went well with the rest of the house,” Coglizer says, referring to the sage color used for the island and ceiling in the eating nook.

Laura Foote Photography

Originally, the cabinets framing the oven hood had glass doors. Coglizer and Shepherd replaced the doors with a custom-made brass mesh grill, which still allows a peek inside yet updates the look with something both unique and traditional.

Handmade and hand-painted white tiles from Spain were chosen for the backsplash. 

“The tiles aren’t perfect, and they add a lot of texture,” Coglizer says. “They’re very special.”

Always looking to add personal touches to their projects, Coglizer and Shepherd surprised the homeowners with a custom oil painting of a Midwest landscape by Brianna George of Studio St. George. George is a childhood friend of Kerry who grew up in Kansas City but now resides in London. Right now it’s proudly displayed in the kitchen above the range.

The Boan House

Laura Foote Photography

One of Whitney Boan’s favorite things in her Mid-West & Co.-designed great room is her boucle upholstered chair. 

“It’s like a big teddy bear,” she says. “Every morning I have my coffee there.”

Whitney and Brad Boan built their home in Olathe from the ground up. The process was a bit overwhelming, which is why they decided to enlist the help of Coglizer and Shepherd. 

“We have kids, and [Coglizer and Shepherd] helped us pick out things that they really can’t destroy,” Whitney says. They even kid-proofed her white Crate and Barrel sofa, which was upholstered in a performance fabric. 

“It’s not as scary as it sounds,” Whitney says. “Red wine was spilled on it, my daughter got chocolate on it, I have two dogs—it’s all come off.”

Laura Foote Photography

The Boans were excited about the personal touches that Coglizer and Shepherd sprinkled throughout their large living space, including a small sculpture of a golf ball, a nod to Brad’s hobby, and books on gardening and flowers, one of Whitney’s passions. She owns a floral business called Adorn Floral Design.

Several of the landscapes in the Boan home were done by local artist Katie Mulder of Katie Mulder Creative and framed in vintage frames found by Coglizer and Shepherd on one of their antiquing adventures.

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