Kobel & Co. remodels a Leawood house from the end of the 80s, taking inspiration from Charleston and Santa Barbara

The designer duo from Kobel & Co. are starting a new project with a lot of questions.

“We spend time up front,” says Elizabeth Bennett, co-owner of the firm with Mallory Robins. Before taking samples, researching furniture, or developing a strategy, Bennett and Robins really want to understand how their customers live and how they want to live.

“How do you want this house to feel?” How do you want your guests to feel? What are some of your favorite places you’ve visited and loved? Bennett asks.

Then, armed with a multitude of intimate details, they baptize each of their projects with a nickname, hoping that this will help capture the essence of each project and guide them through the design process.

It was these questions that led the team to dub their latest remodel project, a late 1980s home in Leawood’s Hallbrook development, “Charlebarbara,” after the owners’ two favorite spots, Charleston, Carolina. of the South and Santa Barbara in California.

Although located on opposite coasts, these destinations both have an elegant ease, a relaxed but civilized outlook on life.

“Charleston is about southern hospitality, a little more formal,” Robins says, “and Santa Barbara, also about entertainment and food, is more laid back. This house is a mix.

This was the ‘vibe’ that Bennett and Robins, who first met in college and then reconnected several years ago through their children’s school, sought to create for the Onalisa owners. Winblad and Curt McGeeney.

With two young children and a busy career as doctors, the couple wanted their home to be a place where they could relax and enjoy the company of family and friends.

“We’re coming home and it feels like we’re on vacation,” says McGeeney, who adds that he and Winblad couldn’t be happier with the renovation.

The family moved into the home in 2016, and McGeeney says that while the 44-hundred-square-foot home was functional, it was a “hodge-podge” of furniture put together over the years and set against a dated background. They wanted something that was more cohesive and that really felt like a retirement, something that reflected who they were as a family.

The designers Bennett and Robins came in and completely remodeled the ground floor of the house.

The kitchen

Photograph by Nate Sheets

Winblad and McGeeney love to cook and entertain, which is why the Kobel team has extended the original kitchen footprint, creating a larger island where food preparation and entertaining can take place simultaneously. Innovative cabinets have been added to easily store kitchen appliances and keep other gadgets out of sight.

The light and airy kitchen cabinets are grounded in dark brown stained wood floors and punctuated with rubbed brass hardware and light fixtures. The Burchi quartzite countertops, marked with gold and dark gray veins that connect the space to the rest of the house, were a crucial first find for the renovation, Bennett says.

The bar area mimics the tones of the kitchen and adds another place for entertaining.

Formal dinner

Photograph by Nate Sheets

A more formal but still fun approach was taken in the dining room. Designers infused color into the space with ocean blue grass canvas wallcovering and a pale blue sideboard, setting the space apart from the more neutral palette from the rest of the house.

Casual dining

Photograph by Nate Sheets

In the “foyer area” adjacent to the kitchen, the Kobel team set the scene with a vintage rug. They found an antique table just a little lower than a normal dining table and used modern gray linen swivel chairs to sit on, creating a relaxed space to not only eat but also visit, do homework, or relax. -be playing a board game.

Art wall

Photograph by Nate Sheets

The Kobel team commissioned Josh Young, a Washington DC-based artist, to create a modern installation of sixteen small, neutral pieces for a uniquely modern touch and to keep the space from becoming “too difficult.”

The master bedroom

Photograph by Nate Sheets

A simple monochromatic space for peaceful nights sleep. The bedroom mixes more refined pieces, like the burl bedside tables, with organic shapes, like the large woven basket chandelier punctuating the ceiling.


Photograph by Nate Sheets

A bold blue and white flat-weave vintage rug adds color to the living room’s otherwise neutral palette. A massive mirror leans against the wall, mirroring Josh Young’s art installation and adding depth to the space. The design team used performance fabrics throughout the house, including the white sofas in the living room, to prepare them for entertaining.

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