Erica Rigdon knew her very first home design project had the potential to be a game-changer for her fledgling business. It needed to be not only seamlessly executed but also formidably impressive.
“The owner of the very first home I designed took a huge leap of faith in me,” says Rigdon, who got the gig just a few months after starting a home design blog called Style and Grace Interiors. “I thought, this is going to be their family home and I want it to be perfect for them,” Rigdon says. “I only had a few hundred followers at the time.”
The home, a new build in Overland Park, eventually made its way onto the Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer charity home tour, which “launched” Rigdon’s career. “She [the property owner] was so gracious to open her home for the tour, and so many people saw that first home and went through it,” Rigdon says. One of those tour-goers was Cheryl Lowden, who fell in love with Rigdon’s designs so much that she nabbed one of her business cards at the event and tucked it away, saving it for when she was ready to build her dream home. Several years later, the Lowdens found an ideal waterfront lot on the newly expanded Lake Winnebago, perfect for a custom build.
“Erica is very relatable,” Lowden says, adding that working with Rigdon was one of the best parts of the whole building process. “She quickly understood our personalities and helped make our home fit our lifestyle. Everything she designed had a purpose.”
The custom seven thousand-square-foot home has a classic style and an open floor plan. It was designed by architect Gerald Janssen of Elswood, Smith, Carlson Architects. With five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and lake views from almost every room, the property was built with entertaining family and friends in mind. Finished only a few months ago, the house has already become Lowdens’ “happy place.” The Lowdens still have teens living at home but plan to make their new lake house their primary residence when they officially become empty nesters.
Dramatic and massive wood ceiling trusses lift the eye up past large glass windows that frame views of the lake, bringing attention to a massive chandelier ensconced in a modern metal orb. The fixture’s layers of crystals contrast with the rest of the room’s casual and comfortable approach.
“When I design a home, I try to create an environment that is comfortable and livable but also tailored and put together,” Rigdon says. She aims to design rooms that feel new but are classical enough that the owner won’t feel the home needs to be completely overhauled in a few years.In the living room and throughout the house, Rigdon used blue and grey tones that invoke waterfront living without being too obvious. “No large anchors on the wall,” she said. “I think overall the whole house vision is a light, casual aesthetic.”
Rigdon chose traditional white cabinets in the kitchen but used simple modern brass hardware throughout to make it fresh. Rather than create a backsplash with classic white subway tiles, she selected a bold and uneven gray subway tile as a surprise element.
A unique custom-made banquette that follows the curve of the stairwell’s base is a perfect example of Rigdon’s “design with a purpose” ethos. It’s an architectural element that also serves a function.
Entertainment Room and Bar
Slightly more masculine than the rest of the home, the downstairs entertaining space and bar were made so that both adults and kids would feel comfortable hanging out there. Backlit shelves behind the bar showcase glassware and special libations. Rough stone, dark wood and a classic copper ceiling make the bar the perfect place to get out of the sun, relax with friends and watch the big game.
Just off to the side and behind the pool table, a large window lets folks peek into the wine cellar. The room’s walls are lined with wine, and the stone counter is anchored by a bourbon barrel that once housed a special brew created at a Kentucky distillery by Alan Lowden and his friends.
A room made for slumber parties, the bunk room, with built-in bunk beds, can sleep six. The room is a lesson in contrast: Dark wood paneling lines the sleeping nooks while bright white paint covers the trim and ceiling. It’s cozy. Each bunk provides privacy and has its own reading light yet feels open and communal.