Home on the Range
A modern mix of rustic and mid century blend to create a lively, cozy, family home in Shawnee.
Words: Samantha Collins
Photos: Jill DiMartino, DiMartino Photography
Nestled in suburbia, high school sweethearts Tammy and Justin Beins aren’t your ordinary cookie-cutter couple and it’s apparent right off the bat when visiting their Shawnee home. Charlie, sometimes also known as Fred, greets guests while perched right outside the front door. No, he’s not a dog or cat, but a larger-than-life, brightly colored tin rooster. The couple randomly found him in Baldwin City, Kan., during the Maple Leaf festival a few years ago and thought he would be a wonderful addition to their home. He sets the perfect example of how the Beins family’s style is ever-evolving based on what they find out and about.
“Our surrounding truly helped us mold into the style we have adapted to this house,” Tammy said. “We are constantly being inspired by some random wood or metal we find. I think it really shows in our home.”
When first entering the house, high, vaulted natural wood panel ceilings juxtapose concrete thermal-mass floor. It’s a mix of Tammy’s mid-century modern style with a lot of Justin’s Colorado cabin feel. Second-hand, vintage, Western paintings from old steakhouse restaurants that Justin found at Habitat for Humanity ReStore hang on the wall. A floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace brings out more of the natural, mountainy atmosphere with its mantel covered in Justin’s hand-made birdhouses and wooden trinkets. A bit of a modern style shines through in the kitchen with dark gray concrete countertops edged with steel and more dark steel chandeliers made from lights Tammy found lying around her old job’s storage room.
“We go from super modern, to a little more rustic, and then the other,” Tammy said. “When one style gets a little too extreme, we try to scale it back by bringing out the other styles we enjoy.”
But, the house wasn’t always a modern cabin. Built in 1985, the house had a very different look five years ago when the couple purchased it; the 80s explosion didn’t scare the do-it-yourselfers. Instead of the concrete flooring, thick Spanish-style tile adorned the floor, which Tammy and Justin spent months chipping away tile by tile. The kitchen, now open and spacious, hid behind a wall with a small, “fast-food style window” cutout that led into the dining room. Guests could see into the master bathroom from the kitchen thanks to low-rise walls. The master bathroom was tickled with pink tiles. Now the house is bustling with two children, two black golden-doodles who are pretty much toddlers themselves, and a golden cat who moseys around, all without a trace of that original 1980s glamour. All of the changes were made by Tammy and Justin.
“Some people golf, we DIY,” Tammy said. “He usually builds it and I add the final touches. It’s teamwork at its finest.”
Walking throughout the house, guests find rather unique wall décor with even more unique stories of how the couple found it. Climbing up the stairs to the second floor, a huge wooden piece stating “Bit of the West” hangs on the wall. No, the couple didn’t find it a local antique shop or consignment store. One day a few years ago while driving around in Colorado, where Justin’s family owns a cabin, Tammy and Justin found the piece lying in an alleyway on the side of the road. Tammy says that it was fate to have found that piece. With a bit of paint and TLC, it was ready for its spotlight in their stairwell. Tammy said their home was full of pieces of their favorite places. They’ve actually found quite of bit of inspiration in Colorado for décor around their home. After another one of their annual trips to the mountains, they drove past a creek bed. The shore was covered in dried driftwood. So, what’s the normal thing to do? Why, stop the car and spend almost an hour gathering wood for future projects, of course.
“We probably looked like hillbillies gathering the wood,” Tammy said. “But, who cares.”
Down the hall, Hazel, the couple’s 3-year-old daughter—who at the time insisted on being called Princess Jasmine—showed off her room complete with a tree-house bed that Justin built. Painted in pastel pinks, yellows and greens with milk paint, Justin said that her bed is just a touch of what he’s made for the house from his woodworking hobby. Wilder, Hazel’s 8-month-old brother, has a bedroom that sits right next to Hazel’s. Keeping up with the modern cabin woodsy theme, just above his bed hangs a sign Justin made that perfectly fits Wilder’s personality with “All Good Things are Wild and Free” carved into the wood.
“Both of our kids are so different in so many different ways,” Tammy said. “We tried to fill their rooms with things that really showed their personalities.”
Justin said he was inspired to start woodworking from his grandfather, who was an architect. He still uses his grandfather’s original drafting table to create his work. Justin enjoys creating small picture frames for around the house, and eventually started to make toys and puzzles after he and Tammy had kids. He started a small business called Hazel Irie with the idea of creating small pieces of woodwork to sell. But, that’s another adventure for another time, Justin said. His woodworking also ties in with the couple’s commitment to living as organic and natural as possible. The couple tries to use non-toxic paints and materials in their household to help ensure a healthy living environment for their kids.
“We like the idea of our kids playing with natural toys, instead of just plastic,” Tammy said. “But, of course, we still have the Barbies and other toys. We’re not always perfect.”
Justin created most of the smaller woodwork in the house, ranging from the kitchen counter’s wooden bar to the hand-carved mustaches donning their kitchen wall. His first project for the house consisted of building wooden countertops for the main floor’s powder room. Similar to their wood-gathering adventures in Colorado, Justin said he finds materials to work with in a variety of ways including on the side of the road, Craigslist, and even on golf courses. The headboard for the master bedroom is made from pallet wood he found. In the master bathroom, Justin made the countertops out of wood from his father’s house and used old gas cans as light pendants above the vanity.
“A lot of my work is so unique because it’s made out of a pole or random log I found,” Justin said. “I love finding new things to work with.”
Even after five full years of renovations and changes, the house still has a never-ending list of things to do and space to fill. Somewhere out there is an old tin can waiting to become a sink basin, or an old piece of thrown-away wood calling to be a small birdhouse for a fairy garden. Next on their list is the outdoor space. With a garden already in the works, Tammy said they would love to be able to grow a lot more than just herbs and some veggies. However, no matter how far they get with their home, it may never be truly complete in their eyes.
“You name it, it’s on our list of things to do,” Tammy said. “Everything is always a work in progress. As soon as we finish something, we always want to go back and work it again. I don’t think this house will ever be truly finished and that’s kind of the way we like it.”
Samantha is a freelance writer and editor in Kansas City. She’s a recent University of Kansas journalism graduate (go Jayhawks!) who can be found buried in a good book, traveling around the country or just wandering around Kansas City.