Villa With A View

Cathy Maxwell reinvents life and love in Links at LionsGate lookout.
William and Jill DiMartino

For Reece & Nichols real estate agent Cathy Maxwell, the third time really is a charm. As the owner of two former residences in Overland Park’s Links at LionsGate neighborhood, Maxwell insists her third and current abode in the exclusive lifestyle community has been her most magical yet.

“This house has been my renaissance,” says Maxwell, who downsized to the charming, stone-turreted villa with a sweeping view of the Nicklaus Golf Course back in 2009 just weeks before an unexpected course of events put an end to her 34-year marriage. “You should see the sunset from here,” says the energetic blonde real estate agent as she gestures towards the western wall of windows backing the home. “It’s amazing.”

Indeed the panoramic expanse where sky meets rolling contours of prairie roughs and greens seems to unfold endlessly outside Maxwell’s back door. And just like the inspired view from her abode, the homeowner’s personal journey has been one of expanding horizons. For Maxwell, this villa is about more than just bricks and mortar.

“It’s a fresh start,” she says.

photo: William & Jill DiMartino

Starting afresh meant refashioning the former model home with sleek and warm neutrals, updated faux treatments and natural stone tile. It also meant enlisting the help of close friend and interior design dynamo Janet Alholm.

“I always depend on the professionals,” says the seasoned real estate agent, “and Janet knows just what I like.”

Maxwell’s penchant for the understated—“I don’t like things to be overdone,” says the homeowner—manifests itself throughout the residence in the form of clean lines softened by Alholm’s signature neutrals and textures. Inside the home’s double front doors, textured bark-colored walls warm an outsize see-through entry without overshadowing the star of the show: the villa’s links-course view.

Also edited to careful effect are both new and antique furnishings. Illuminated by sunlight spilling from floor-to-ceiling living room windows, a plush new sofa and tufted ottoman from Seville Home blend seamlessly with an early nineteenth-century sycamore table imported from France.

“I love French antiques,” says Maxwell, who also points to a French keyhole secretary from the same time period gracing her entryway.

Francophile influences continue into the adjoining kitchen, where a simple country French dining table sits near creamy raw silk curtains pooled around more windows-with-a-view. Glazed almond-hued cabinetry, tile countertops and a backsplash with terra cotta accents highlight the room’s most disarming feature: a warm and inviting terra cotta ceiling.

“We wanted to expand the space, so we raised the ceiling,” explains Alholm, who multiplied the room’s cozy-factor by adding another exposed beam and applying a terra cotta finish.

Other Alholm touches include an antiqued harlequin pattern on Maxwell’s dining room walls; it bears interlocking diamonds hand cut from two different papers.

“I like to do things that aren’t the norm,” says the designer, who agrees the wall-covering with-a-twist juxtaposes beautifully with Maxwell’s antique empire-style English sideboard. Ditto for the powder room, where the designer asymmetrically offset the homeowner’s heirloom French vanity mirror with a single oversized sconce.

“Sometimes there’s balance in being unbalanced,” insists Alholm.

And while the décor is punctuated with the homeowner’s favorite antiques, it’s hardly a place where stuffiness reigns.

“Our goal was to make every room livable,” says Alholm, who lowered an exquisite custom wood fireplace mantle in the living room to make flat screen television viewing easier.

Casual enough to make comfy her beloved canine Clipper, the villa’s design also accommodates another of Maxwell’s loves: her work. “I love making people’s [real estate] visions come true,” says the real estate agent, whose knack for selling Johnson County homes—coupled with a habit of working around the clock—garnered her $5.5 million in sales in her first year alone. In addition to a main level office, an elegant barley twist table from Seville Home doubles as a work alcove in the living room.

Cathy Maxwell with her beloved canine Clipper. 

photo: William & Jill DiMartino


Yet with its flowing floor plan and multi-level panoramic vistas, the villa is perfect for playtime too. And because the fun-loving homeowner is a “people-person” at heart, throwing parties is one of Maxwell’s greatest delights.

“When I host a party, I invite everyone on the street,” says Maxwell, who recently put on a fete for nearly a hundred friends and neighbors. “People were coming in the front and the back doors,” she laughs. “It was lots of fun.”

In addition to the main level deck, back-door partygoers revel in the home’s lower level bar area, which also affords a stunning view of the links. To play up the glitz, Alholm installed a wall of mirrors opposite the bar whose cut-glass square and diamond-studded design is reminiscent of the harlequin pattern upstairs. A black lacquered X-motif and arched wall sconces add interest and elegance to the bar, where entertaining comes easy and guests’ libations stay full with help from a concealed butler’s pantry just steps away.

But as the haven of a real estate agent-homeowner, a place so expertly appointed for work, play, and relaxation, it begs the question: is the villa for sale?

“It’s such a unique property,” says Maxwell, who notes her coveted location next to a park in savvy real estate agent-like fashion. “I could never recreate this, so I wouldn’t be willing to let go of it easily.”

Yet in talking to Maxwell you get the idea that her attachment to this place doesn’t necessarily center on its prime location, its cozy-chic décor, or even what

Alholm calls its “million-dollar view.” For Maxwell, being comfortable in her own home has equated with being comfortable in her own skin.

Maxwell says she’s learned much during her time in the villa. Her biggest takeaway? “That I’m fine by myself,” she says. “And that if you’re ever on your own, with the support of family and friends, you’ll be okay.”

Maxwell agrees wholeheartedly with the suggestion that her downsized residence has resulted in an uptick of her spirit. Recently engaged, she sums up her journey in the villa with a view: “It’s a whole new life,” she says.

Categories: At Home, Homes & Real Estate