When Sara Antin found the perfect home in Leawood, there was only one designer she trusted to transform its interior—her son Garret.
Story by Katy Schamberger | Photos by Garrett Antin
As a landscape architect and owner of Outside Interiors, Sara Antin has made it her mission to extend a living space beyond a home’s interior and into the outdoors. Yet when it came time for her to focus on updating the look of her own home, there was only one person to call: her son, interior designer and photographer Garrett Antin.
Interior designers (usually) love a challenge—and this project proved no exception, thanks in large part to two primary factors.
Originally built in the 1950s by famed Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Kauffman, the Leawood house had what Garrett described as “good bones” that were “destroyed” by a number of too-trendy updates made by the home’s second owner.
“We knew when she bought the place that this was the intention,” he says. “I went and looked at the house with her and we started making plans right then.”
As Sara and Garrett planned the home’s décor update (accompanied by what Garrett described as a “light remodel”), another challenge emerged: budget.
“When Sara bought the home, we had about $50,000 to redo the place—and that included new furniture,” Garrett said.
And although Garrett and Sara didn’t necessarily see it as a hardship, distance was another factor. Garrett lives and works in New York City, which means the project was largely done through text messages and email exchanges that he describes as “kind of crazy. We’ve been sending pictures back and forth constantly.”
The goal? Morphing Sara’s previous style, described as “very romantic,” into a more current aesthetic.
“I wanted something that was more modern and streamlined,” Sara says.
No interior redecoration is complete without furniture—and throughout her life, Sara had amassed quite a collection.
“She’s been collecting her whole life and I grew up with it,” Garrett says. “I knew going in that I had a library of pieces I could pull from.”
Yet they still needed some new furnishings and accessories—and that’s when the duo’s shopping savvy took center stage.
“We didn’t spend more than $800 on any single new piece,” Garrett says. “It’s amazing the stuff we were able to find. For example, we were at a consignment shop in Overland Park and able to find a three-piece Henredon buffet set that, new, would have been thousands of dollars.”
As Garrett and Sara worked to create a modern aesthetic, Garrett also took a high-low approach so that they could balance an occasional splurge with more reasonably priced accessories. In the main floor guest bathroom, Garrett opted to use expensive grasscloth as a wall covering. Because of the small space, however, the l budget remained on course while an element of luxury helped elevate the overall look.
“We’ve tried to keep mass market sources as minimal as possible and tried to find a lot of vintage pieces,” Garrett says. “But don’t get me wrong—all of the draperies in the house are JC Penney and we used bedding from Target. That sort of balance is important. There’s no reason to spend a ton of money.”
Another essential when working on a tight budget? Creativity, of which Garrett has no shortage. Sara’s bedroom quickly became one of her favorite places in the home once the redecoration was complete, thanks in large part to Garrett’s inventive approach to the bed.
“He found a curved bed frame online and slip covered it with a beautiful blue fabric,” she says. “It looks upholstered and feels rich and opulent—it appears to be much more expensive than it is.”
Both Garrett and Sara also love the living room sofa, another exercise in budget-minded creativity.
“It’s a big, long sofa that’s fairly simple—it almost reminds me of a Dunbar,” Garrett says. “We found it for around $250—it had beautiful lines. We recovered it and had separate cushions covered in a herringbone fabric, so the end result is amazing.”
Garrett proved especially thoughtful when choosing furniture and finishings to accommodate Sara’s most important priority: her three dogs.
“He used materials so that I could have a place that’s sophisticated but dog-friendly,” she says. “I can now live in this incredible space with my dogs—it’s amazing.”
A Masterpiece Inside and Out
Working with a parent isn’t always easy—and in the case of interior decorating and remodeling, it can be an especially difficult situation to navigate. Garrett and Sara, however, proved to be an exception.
“I trust him completely,” she says. “He placed everything in the home that was collected and purchased. I loved his aesthetic and everything he touches.” Adds Garrett,” She’s the best client because she gives me blind faith. She never said to me, ‘No, we’re not doing that.’ Working with her was a blast.”
And even though she’s watched her son at work on other projects, Sara quickly learned to appreciate Garrett’s knowledge from a client’s perspective.
“He also explains what he’s doing,” she says. “If he’s going to use a particular rug somewhere, he’ll tell me why.”
Although some interior decorators may find it limiting to work on a tight budget, Garrett prefers it.
“I think that client and budget limitations are what inspires the most creativity,” he says. “When you have to figure out a way to make things work, that’s when you’re pushed to not go into your defaults.”
Now that Sara’s home interior reflects a more modern aesthetic that combines some of her most treasured pieces with her and Garrett’s inventive finds (including some of Garrett’s original artwork, such as the blue and white painting in Sara’s office), she’s focusing on the space she knows best: the outdoors.
To help set the mood and further establish the interior style, Sara spent time revamping the entryway. Recessed double front doors were updated with paneled shutters that Sara painted black to make the entryway “look more grand. I love to accessorize that space.”
She’s also working on the yard, which was previously was nothing except white rocks. The goal? To create a more seamless transition from indoors to out.
“Whenever I look out a window, I want to see something that makes me happy,” she says. “I want to feel like I can enjoy it. When I work on an outdoor project, I try to make as many little rooms as possible so there are spaces to fit your moods.”