Could the hippest design trends of this decade be borrowed from the past? When they’re updated, absolutely. The 1970s are cool again — just ask local designer Ann Arkebauer. Mid-century modern aesthetics inspired Arkebauer’s remodel of her Leawood home, which she began in 2015 and has continued in spurts since.
Arkebauer’s sunken living room is a lesson in the judicious use of color, pattern, texture and scale. The abstract art above the fireplace was painted by the designer, and its strong colors are mirrored in the area rug. Boldly printed wallpaper and orange accents bring an updated ’70s vibe to the wet bar and up the room’s cool factor.
Arkebauer loves color. “Interesting people live in interesting homes,” she says. It may be easier to sell a beige and cream interior, but it’s more fun — and more interesting — to live in a house bubbling with teal accents, buzzing with orange walls or splashed with the perfect shade of blue.
“We want our clients to have a house that speaks to them, that reflects their personality and tastes,” Arkebauer says. “Sometimes we help them find a look they didn’t know they wanted.”
In the designer’s office, windows welcome the outdoors in, and wood accents and potted plants act as lessons in how to update mid-century modern for today’s busy lifestyle. The office is also home to Arkebauer’s husband’s vinyl collection. A wall is dedicated to albums and a turntable. And, in an era when speakers are tiny, the Arkebauers went old school: Vintage Bowers & Wilkins box speakers flank the windows.
The kitchen is a gathering place, and the walnut-veneered cabinets provide a warm backdrop for shared laughter and good conversation. Arkebauer designed the peninsula to maximize counter and dining space. The island is black granite sourced from Rock Tops. The glass tabletop is set into the granite and floats above the wooden base. Mid-century modern chairs found in the West Bottoms on a lucky First Friday and distinctive light fixtures complete the look.
The geometric wallpaper in the bedroom is yet another nod to the mid-century. The paper mixes seamlessly with geometric patterned pillows and faux fur on the bed. Turquoise chairs are a dash of strong color against the monochromatic background. “Those chairs — they pop,” Arkebaur says.
Arkebauer’s dining room mixes brass, shag and velvet. The look nods to the past but is on trend for today. The wallpaper was hung horizontally rather than vertically, and what might have looked like a Geiger counter now resembles birch bark.
An owl (perhaps the ultimate icon of ’70s decorating) keeps watch in the mother-in-law suite kitchen. The easily removed mural treatment was sourced at Society6.
“Design and taste are organic,” Arkebaur notes. “My aesthetic today is different from what it was 10 years ago, and it will continue to change.”
As long as the basic design is strong, a shift from burnt amber to autumn orange is easy.
“What’s important is that you love the space you live in — that it speaks to you,” she says.
Arkebaur’s house is talking — and it’s feeling groovy.