Designing Women

Joyce Trimuel knew she was looking for a blank slate when she set out to find a home in Kansas City. Her Overland Park abode was at the end of a long list of potentials that didn’t have that feel.

“When you walk into your living space, you’re looking for a place that feels like home,” she says. “I liked the layout of the house but it was really what I envisioned me being able to do in the house in terms of making some updates.”

After finding the space with that welcoming feel, she began to channel her inner designer to create a cool-toned, polished home.

While shopping at Thomasville she had the opportunity to meet Vanessa Neal, who would aid in Trimuel’s design adventure.

“We were always on the same team, working together, celebrating the touchdowns and shrugging off the interceptions to eventually reach our desired goal — a sophisticated modern home with a touch of glamor,” says Neal, who now operates her own design firm, Cotton Duck Design Studio.

Among the rooms in Trimuel’s home, the basement, living room and master bedroom were on the redesign priority list.


Lower level central

To get the ball rolling, Neal suggested that Trimuel begin her project on, an online network allowing users to create a “look book.” This is where she’d find the burnt orange ottoman that would spark the basement’s design genesis.

“I told Vanessa that I don’t care how we have to incorporate it, but I definitely want an orange ottoman,” she says. 

Keeping cool tones with pops of colors was an objective throughout the house. Trimuel wanted things to be minimalistic with the right accents, not cluttered or heavy. This quickly came together in the basement.

“For me the basement is really … it’s the central part of the house, that’s where I do most of my entertaining,” says Trimuel. “I needed a very functional basement area.”

Using the ottoman as a creative springboard, Trimuel and Neal were in search of a beige couch before they struck success with a navy fabric sectional. They decided on a complementary patterned fabric for the chair to keep the room from being “too matchy-matchy,” and completed the space with the bar, which was stained darker to fuse with the room’s color palette.

“We wanted to have a little fun with the basement while still keeping the overall flow of the house intact,” says Neal. “To achieve this, we vamped up the color scheme and added a few preppy elements to help balance out some of the modern lines.”


Fantastic fabrics and defining vision

The living room is where Neal and Trimuel really triumphed in executing their design vision.

Trimuel found a sofa in Thomasville one afternoon while Neal was working.

“I decided I really liked the couch, but obviously the fabric and the color we would have to make some adjustments to it,” she says. Finding a new fabric in her definitive cool tone, the nailhead tufted couch became the first component in the welcoming space.

Two embellished mustard-yellow cushions on the couch make a connection with two small leather stools that rest in front of the fireplace. They all convene on a chic gray-and-white patterned rug. In the corner, a vintage bar set-up piques the interest of guests by using the tools of the trade as pops of color in the monochromatic space.

“The living room is the core opening statement to the rest of the house, so it needed to define the vision, and like any opening statement, it needed to lead you into the rest of the house, and make you want to continue reading,” says Neal. 

Scanning the room, it’s easy to see that Trimuel is most smitten with the stately console table. While in search for a mirror at Z Gallerie, she came across the uncommon piece.

“We were just looking for different pieces that were kind of unique, and that piece would be at the front door, so it would be one of those pieces that catches your eye,” she says of the show-stopper.


Rest and relaxation

As a firm believer that bedrooms should be where you unwind, Trimuel chose relaxing colors, slick lines and simple furniture for her bedroom.

Set against espresso chocolate flooring, she sought furniture that would balance the room. The gray walls, found throughout the house, are a shade darker to create a soothing space, while a bold purple is the exclusive pop. The bed’s simple white duvet with ruffles adds softness to the bold room.

“I wanted something kind of girly,” says Trimuel. “So it still makes the room very feminine even though you have some bolder colors.”

The room speaks to Neal’s impression of the gracious homeowner.
“She’s a sophisticated, modern woman with a certain air of grace that was lost at the height of Hollywood in the late ’40s,” she says.

Sensational statements in color

The black and white office was being dreamed up before Trimuel even bought the home. To gain inspiration for this she used, where she found some ideal pieces.

“Offices, like powder rooms, are places I feel welcome to make a bold statement,” Neal says. “I adore black and white rooms; they’re so striking.”

She explains that what makes black and white rooms work is a “quintessential mix of opposing elements, balanced together, to create layers of interest and dimension.” In this case, the back and white wallpaper of tree trunks provided a balance for the desk and shelves in the room — creating an energetic and motivating space.

The red bathroom, meanwhile, is Trimuel’s personal interior stamp.

“Every house I’ve lived in, I’ve always had something that had red or accents in red,” she says. “That’s a color that I really like.”

The brick-red color offers a fresh departure from the home’s gray walls.

Neal searched high and low to find the green shower curtain, a task that Trimuel found admirable.

“It’s hard to find a shower curtain that is not a shower curtain you’d see at your grandmother’s house,” she says.

Trimuel’s “few rooms” quickly turned into the whole house, and today she’s wrapping up the finishing touches with new art.

“Once you get started and inspired, you really want to pull the house together — it’s just easier to get it all done at once in one version,” she says.

The Papered Walls

Homeowner Joyce Trimuel and interior designer Vanessa Neal shared an appreciation for one of today’s trendier designs — wallpaper.

“Wallpaper was very popular growing up back in the ‘80s,” says Trimuel. “I think wallpaper is making a comeback.”

She wanted to incorporate wallpaper into the house without it being overwhelming. The pair achieved this by picking specific rooms or papering just one wall. 

As for Neal, who grew up in England, wallpaper has become a staple design element for her. She used Cole & Son for Joyce’s rooms, which include the office, dining room, guest room and powder room.

“I see wallpaper as serving as the replacement for the patterned chair in the room; it should be the first thing you see and the first thing you remember,” she says. 

She enjoys using wallpaper to connect pieces of furniture, make a statement and illustrate a space. 

Trimuel enjoys wallpaper as well, saying, “I plan on being here for awhile, but I wanted to see something different, something that I can enjoy.”

photos: William & Jill DiMartino

Categories: At Home, Features, Homes & Real Estate