Visiting Grandmother's Cottage

Many of us treasure the special memories of our grandmother’s house: the journey to get there, a weekend of being spoiled, jumping on the bed and sinking into cozy furniture.

One Overland Park grandmother knows this all too well, and with that, she created the perfect cottage for herself and her grandchildren.

“My husband and I built the ‘big house’ in 2003,” she says. “In the back we built a big two-story garage and shop; I have always been taken by that building.” As a result, after her husband passed away in 2010, she began planning her cottage.

The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath garage-turned-cottage boasts 4,100 square feet of dreamy bungalow décor, comfy accoutrements and a peppering of turquoise and cobalt blue to accent a playful spirit.

“Architect Jeff Kazmaier designed the space and worked on the look and finish,” says the homeowner. “Each stage has been wonderful and they were all so creative.”

Jay Holthaus of Holthaus Building managed the construction.

“It has been a blast to see it develop,” says the homeowner.

Downsizing from a larger home, which remains perched in front of the newly built cottage, the homeowner was still connected to her beautiful furnishings and would find a way to repurpose them next door with the help of Glenna Walton of Glenna Walton Design and Interiors, and later Lisa Mermis of Twigs Interiors.

“I only bought my bed, the stools and a table upstairs,” says the homeowner, as she spirals around her plentiful living room. “I had every single thing.”

The grandmother of eight embarked upon a complete redesign with Walton to create cherished space for herself and her three sons’ children.


Improvising Interiors

After sailing through the construction and framing stages, Walton traveled to Florida for a quick trip. While there, she had an unexpected health scare, which took her off the project for months and left the homeowner to her own devices.

“I had nothing,” says the homeowner. “I had a copy of that wallpaper and so our decorator at our company tracked it all down and helped me for about six weeks. I was just doing it on my own.”

With a little coaxing, Walton’s son (formerly of Twigs) asked if Mermis and her team could help finish the cottage in his mother’s absence. The homeowner quickly obliged.

With an inventory of beautiful furniture to repurpose in a refashioned space, Mermis stepped in.

The homeowner says, “[Walton] had pictures and she would say, ‘I want it to look kind of like this,’ and so I had a book of pictures and Lisa and I would look through it.”

Filled with joy of the outcome, she says, “I’m very blessed to have had all of these people involved in this project.”

Rejuvenated Space

The adorable structure belies its true size with its welcoming and rustic turquoise door. Positioned on a family plot of land, the residence is near two of the homeowner’s three sons, waiting for the third to build.

A small pond is overlooked from the cottage’s patio and beautiful Roman shades are pulled to let beams of light pour into the home. Throughout the open foyer, living room and kitchen, patterns of the homeowner’s favorite things begin to reveal themselves.

The flow blue china, painted Tole trays, Watt apple pottery and copper pots were all salvaged by decorators and incorporated into the design.

“It is full but exactly the way I want it,” says the homeowner.

Beautiful upholstered furniture in traditional patterns rest among turquoise lighting, a stately limestone mantle and below breathtaking vaulted ceilings.

“Of course we opened the ceiling up,” says the home-owner. “That was just a great idea and I thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to lose the upstairs space,’ but we didn’t.”

A large island with an outpouring of fresh flowers separates the kitchen from the living room with its varied seating arrangements. Walton was intent on preserving space and created two hutch-like cabinets that not only display the homeowner’s favorite pieces, but act as storage as well.

Off to the right is the master bedroom, a place where the homeowner and her 5-year-old German shepherd, Abbey, enjoy unwinding.

“I love my bedroom,” she says. “You know Abbey is on the bed, that’s her throne. I have a comfortable chair … I love the coziness of my bedroom.”


Grandkids Only

Upstairs, grandkids rule, to which the homeowner attests, “This is for my grandkids — this is their world up here.”

Collection Display

Two of the homeowner’s collections are on display at her cozy cottage:

Nancy Thomas
Virginia folk artist Nancy Thomas creates beautiful colorful pieces that reflect food, faith, angels and colonial musings. The homeowner has been a collector for years and had just the place to fill with her bountiful collection.

A collection of crosses, from rustic to iron, jeweled and beyond, hangs between two mirrors. Among her other collections, this one is special for the faith and spirit that have blessed her and her family.

“My favorite things and all my collections are displayed in my home,” says the homeowner.

The open stairway leads up to a loft where two nook beds are built in the fashion of a barn and just waiting for their inhabitants — her two grandsons. A great room ideal for lounging showcases a large TV that surely airs video games and movies during long weekends with grandma.

“This is just their playroom, they lounge around,” she says.

A repurposed chest and armoire were adapted into a wet bar and cupboard for a microwave and snacks, sure to keep young energy satisfied during play dates at Grandma’s.

A whimsical bathroom plays host for the eight kiddos when they visit. Here, the olive green walls display many pieces by Eastern folk artist Nancy Thomas and the homeowner’s collection of crosses. The black-and-white honeycomb tile in the bathroom pays homage to someone special.

“This floor is just like my grandmother’s,” she says.

The six granddaughters were vocal about preserving their room from the previous house. This pink palace is a tomb to some of the homeowner’s own precious heirlooms.

“All these Terry Lee dolls were mine,” she says. Today the room is peppered with modern dolls, and each granddaughter has one that matches their hair color. On the walls, her mother’s dishes are brightly displayed and framed pictures of the little girls adorn the room.

“My oldest is 17 and she said, ‘Nanny, all is right with the world when we are in this room,’” she says. “It’s just our stuff, our family stuff.”

The cottage is truly an experiment in space and favorite things. Rejuvenating space and spirit, it works perfectly for the homeowner and Abbey, but really comes alive with the pitter-patter and chatter of grandkids.

“It’s new in a way that all my favorite things were put together in a new way,” says the homeowner. “So that to me is really special.”

photos: William & Jill DiMartino

Categories: At Home, Features, Homes & Real Estate