Home Decor

Urban Living, Family Style

A family finds its perfect fit in Union Hill.

Photos by Jason Dailey

When Jennifer and David Saab moved into their Union Hill home in January 2015, they had no idea it would offer one major perk: easy access to the Royals Rally after the Boys in Blue won the World Series.

“I can’t tell you how many people texted, ‘Can we come to your house?’” Jennifer laughs.

Though they may not have know the team would win the World Championship, the parade is a perfect example of why the Saabs wanted to stay downtown as they looked for a home with more space. While many turn to the suburbs, the couple wanted the ability to walk to shops and restaurants and surround young daughter Charlotte with special experiences.

They quickly found a fit in Union Hill. A series of new single-family homes were being built in the historic neighborhood, which is now the site of some of Kansas City’s most impressive urban residential properties. After a look at the model, the Saabs were sold and bought the house just as its foundation was being poured.

“We love the openness of it,” Jennifer says. “The island in the kitchen, we walked in and were like, ‘Our life will happen right here. This is where our friends are going to stand, our daughter is going to eat and we’re going to talk.’”

The option of finishing the house’s basement was also a huge selling point, especially for David, a musician who now uses the space in part as a music room. Fortunately for both Charlotte and rescue dog Trudy, the house also features a spacious backyard as well as a deck off the main story, which leads down to the lush yard where the two can play.

Inside, the roughly 2,500-square-foot home (not including the basement) boasts three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths as well as an open great room. Encompassing the dining area, living room and kitchen, the space showcases the Saabs’ eclectic taste without any assistance from a decorator.

“I was lucky that David and I kind of agreed on a style,” Jennifer says.

She opted for light hardwood floors to give the space a cleaner feel, accented by natural light that pours in from large windows that look out over the deck and yard and a color palette of grays, white and black. A mix of patterns and colorful accessories add personality to the neutral hues.

One such piece is a vibrantly colored cow print in the dining area. Jennifer spotted it in a photo of a home posted by Urban Cool KC and hunted it down for $120 from At Home. Other steals include the club chair in the living room purchased off Craigslist and translucent dining chairs from Ikea, which Jennifer paired with a more traditional table that belonged to her mother to give it a modern edge.

Go-tos for decor purchases include Crate & Barrel offshoot CB2 and mid-century modern inspired seller Joybird, but the Saabs pulled in personal pieces, too: A photo featuring David’s great grandparents, grandfather and great uncle that originally ran in Life Magazine hangs in the living room.

The space also reflects David’s love of music in the form of a funky accent wall, which proved the subject of the couple’s biggest decorating debate: where to put his record player. Jennifer found a cabinet she liked and positioned it against what evolved into a music wall—but how to style it also became a challenge, and the black wall stood empty for a year. These days, it’s adorned with rows of record covers spanning decades and genres.

Around the corner, the kitchen features granite countertops, a deep sink, stainless steel appliances, white cabinets and a modern, multi-tone gray tile back splash. The island that first won the Saabs over gets as much use as they first thought, and just off the kitchen, a neon green sliding barn door conceals the family’s washer and dryer—a design feature introduced after the machines proved too large to fit through the original doorframe.

Both Jennifer and David work in Johnson County but don’t mind commuting against the grain—they’re happy to live in Union Hill. Though it’s not huge, the home is just the right fit for this urban family.

“I don’t want rooms that we go in twice a year. I’ve had that house before with the formal living room and the hearth room and the office and the dining room. It was a beautiful home and I used a third of it,” Jennifer says. “That was one thing I told David: I want to live in it, and I want it to be comfortable. I want people to walk in and not feel like they can’t just lie down on the couch and put their feet up and relax. I think that’s my favorite thing about the house. We use every room in this house.”