A plunge pool, hidden staircase and wine cellar that doubles as a bar are just a few of the extras that Liz and Kyle Freeman incorporated into their Northland home, which they designed to showcase what a little creativity and attention to detail can produce.
“We really had fun with this house,” says Kyle, who, along with his wife Liz, designed and built this home, knowing it was going to be a part of the 2020 Artisan Home Tour that the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City puts on. “We wanted people to see all the creative things that can be done.
Kyle now runs Freeman Custom Homes, the business his father started. Originally, the Freemans purchased the lot along Shoal Creek Parkway in Liberty to build a custom home with a client in mind, but when the project didn’t come to fruition, they decided to create their own version of what a near-perfect domicile should be.
“When Kansas City developed its master plan, the city wanted to bring the parkway style you see down south up here, and Shoal Creek Parkway was a part of that,” Kyle says. He wanted to honor that idea by building a showstopper of a home, similar to many of the grand old homes you would find along Ward Parkway. “So when we really looked at it—a corner, high-visibility lot on the Parkway—we looked at it as a real opportunity to do our best and add something nice.”
The Freemans dubbed this approximately five thousand-square-foot home’s style “old world modern.” They began to hand-sketch the layout and design of the house, eventually working with a draftsman to create the home’s final blueprints.
“We took a lot of influences from various European styles, the rural European country styles, and modernized them, made them more minimal,” Kyle says of this luxurious but relaxed and very livable home.
The Freemans knew from the get-go that they wanted the kitchen to have a high vaulted ceiling and a large window over the sink as its central focal point. In many ways, they designed the entire home around that central idea, Kyle says.
Rather than creating a sterile white-on-white kitchen, the Freemans opted for muted shades of white for the kitchen and in other areas of the home, colors that Liz likens to the shade of putty or perhaps a mushroom. “It’s still clean and bright,” she says of the off-white color scheme, but it’s not “stark.”
The white ceiling is accented with light walnut-colored beams that closely match the wood in the hood over the oven—these details are reminiscent of something you might find in an old English cottage. Both kinds of wood are similar in tone to the hardwood floors and round dining table that sits not far from the main kitchen area and contrasting dark island.
“We weren’t looking for glitz and glam but casual and comfortable,” Kyle says. “Relaxing rather than sparkling.”
Handmade glazed white tiles were used for the kitchen backsplash. The tiles were “one of the very early things we latched onto,” Liz says. “They are simple and clean, perfectly imperfect. The imperfections were a part of the draw.”
The kitchen sits at one end of a large, open, vaulted space, with the dining table in the middle, and a living room at the other end, which is also punctuated by a floor-to-ceiling window.
A space more traditionally used as an office and located off the main entry has been reworked into a music room. It’s a sophisticated space, with its walls, built-ins and ceiling all painted in a moody dark blue color called Racoon Fur. Hanging above the grand piano is a weathered brass chandelier. The overall effect is soothing and serves as a visual relief from the mostly all-white interior of the rest of the home.
Like many European homes, the house is centered around a courtyard. “Being on a prominent lot, there is not a lot of privacy,” Kyle says. “The courtyard is a way to bring in a lot of light but still have privacy.”
When you first enter the reverse plan home, you are greeted by a bank of windows that showcase the open-air courtyard beyond and the covered deck with a fireplace on the far side. Walking downstairs to the main entertainment area, the courtyard is accessible through large French doors. Cafe lights are strung from the roof across the open-air area, and travertine pavers combined with crushed granite make up the patio. Old world storefront elements were also used to conjure up feelings of “dining al fresco in a European Village,” Kyle says.
A bright white wine cellar was built behind the downstairs bar off the courtyard and is visible through large windows that can open. “It makes a great entertaining space,” Kyle says.
The plunge pool
A spa room with an oversized sunken hot tub is nestled in an enclosed indoor-outdoor room to the side of the courtyard and tucked under the master bedroom. It’s accessible from the courtyard, but a hidden staircase also leads directly up to the master bedroom, allowing for a discreet exit. No need to traipse dripping wet through the house.
A travertine tile was used around the pool, and a waterproof lime plaster similar to what is seen in places like Santorini, Greece, was used on the walls.
The Freemans procured handmade clay Moroccan tiles to use along one wall in the powder room. The rough tiles are coupled with a natural, smooth wood countertop and cabinet. A simple yet traditional mirror and low-hanging opaque lantern-like light fixture add a modern take on classic design themes.
The Freemans knew they wanted to paint the media room a dark green, and it was serendipitous that they just happened to find a deep green velvet sofa in that exact hue at Nebraska Furniture Mart. “We got lucky,” Liz says.
Natural wood cabinets and beige marble hexagon tile were used in the master bath to keep the space warm and inviting, despite the crisp white walls and clean modern lines.