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Creative Energy in a Design Lover’s Wichita Cottage

by Sofia Tuovinen

Creative Energy and Curiosities in a Design Lover's Wichita Cottage | Design*Sponge
Aesthetics encompass a myriad of sensations: joy, awe, heartache, desire, passion, calm, ad nauseum,” Brette Sumner, a hairstylist, explains when asked about her decorating process. The Wichita, KS home that she shares with her husband Blair and the couple’s pups, Smokie the Yorkie and Pablo the Chihuahua, has been seven years in the making. 

Brette’s interest in design developed when the couple first bought their 1940s cottage, located in a quaint neighborhood on the east side of town. Hunting for art, furniture, and aesthetically compelling pieces at estate sales and online quickly grew into a passion project that has continued to this day. Brette shares, “when we had lived here about a year and were still newlyweds, Blair asked me when I would quit buying and changing things constantly. I said, ‘probably never.’ That’s when he accepted his fate and kicked back, allowing me to do my thing.”

Decorating the family’s home initially started out of sheer boredom and Brette’s desire to create a space that really reflected both her and her husband. “I’ve learned that frustration and boredom are part of what propels me forward,” Brette explains. Diving into the world of design has been a journey that has allowed Brette to discover her own style, and express her personality in a spatial environment. Finding cohesion in the juxtaposition of her varying tastes is what has resulted in the fresh and personal mark that Brette has put on every single space in her home. “There’s no formula. Intuition and experimentation are part of the process. I’ve come to admire unique art, furniture, architecture, and design of all kinds everywhere I go,” she adds. When scrolling through the pictures of Brette and Blair’s cottage, you’ll find a wonderfully blended mix of styles, an abundance of inspiring art and delightfully surprising details — all proof of how boredom can turn into beauty once the design bug bites. —Sofia

Photography by Tobie Andrews

Image above: Old and new, soft and sharp — the living room is the perfect introduction to Brette’s aesthetic. 

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Personal style is fluid, always evolving,” Brette says. Rooms in the house are often updated with new treasures brought home from visits to estate sales and antique stores. The living room currently boasts bold art and playful shapes. 

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A gun lamp adds a quirky touch in the living room corner.

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The dining room built-in bookcases are Blair’s handiwork and one of Brette’s favorite features in the couple’s home. The colorful settee, carved dining table and beaded chandelier add global inspiration to the space.

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Brette and Blair gutted the kitchen when they moved in. “My husband’s late grandfather, Jim Sumner, built all of our beautiful kitchen cabinets by hand in his garage at the age of 83,” Brette shares. 

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Books and curiosities fill the shelves of the dining room built-ins. The bookcase frames the opening that leads down to the sunroom.

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At some point in time, the porch was converted into a sunroom. Today, it’s a peaceful, light-filled space where Brette and Blair can wind down and relax.

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The hanging rattan chair is the ideal spot to sit and enjoy the views of the cottage garden.

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The sunroom’s slanted ceiling adds a cozy feel. Plants and art take center stage in this creatively decorated spae.

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The view toward the sunroom from the main bedroom. Brette’s creative energy can be felt throughout the home, epitomized in carefully selected art, refreshing color combinations and unique vintage finds.

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The main bedroom is also an add-on, and soaks in sunlight thanks to the large windows in two directions. Brette chose a color palette of greys and blues for a calming feel. Brette describes the overall feel of her home “like walking into my own personal reprieve away from chaos. My own little oasis.” 

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The master bedroom was designed with symmetry in mind, with a large juju hat as the focal point.

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A large color block painting adds playful edge to a corner of the bedroom.

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What used to be the original main bedroom is now a bedroom between the new add-on and the rest of the house. “When you walk out of our bedroom, you walk into another bedroom. It’s a little odd,” Brette explains the layout. To make use of the space, the original bedroom now serves as a vanity and dressing room. 

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Brette starts her days at the vanity. “I [..] do my makeup and hair sitting down every morning while listening to podcasts,” she explains. 

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Brette also created a lounge area in the vanity room, complete with a gallery wall with still lifes, portraits and photography in various styles.

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“Creating beautiful spaces inspires me to appreciate beauty and form. Beauty used to seem so superficial to me, but it is now what stops me in my tracks and fills me with life force and passion in the moment,” Brette reflects.

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The stairs leading up from the basement are a piece of art in their own right. Brette painted the treads and added removable floral wallpaper cut to the exact sizes of the risers.

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Brette and Blair are transforming their basement into a second living area, “my husband doing most of the labor,” Brette specifies. “I definitely played the role as designer and conceptualizer more than anything.”

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Brette and Blair’s quaint 1940s cottage. When Brette saw the house, she knew immediately it was the one. “I was a goner. It’s small, quaint, and accessible. We were a realtor’s dream. Two hours in and we were done.”

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“What I love most about my home is… it’s like walking into a warm hug.” — Blair

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Comments

    • Thank you so much! I just did a total overhaul on it. You’ll have to follow me on Instagram and check it out. I will be posting soon!

      Brette

  • I need to know where the indigo rug, the brown rustic style (rattan?) chair, and whimsical crown are from. Thank you. <3 HAPPY FRIDAY

    • The rattan chair is a vintage eBay find that I stripped black paint off of for 10 hours 🤦🏼‍♀️ . It was worth it for the good price. I got the crown from “The Queen of Crowns” on Etsy. The rug is Novogratz by, Momeni called the “Del Mar” . Thank you for your kind words💁🏼‍♀️

      Brette

      • I am looking to buy this year. And you’ve given me hope that a totally regular suburban house can actually be whatever you need it to be! This house looks like a lot of the houses I have been looking at on the outside…but on the inside it’s like a surprise. I am scouring ebay for rattan atm. Thanks for responding!

  • Wall colors really open up the rooms, provide balance to the beautiful furnishings. Love the opaque glass kitchen cupboards, basement stairs. Sweet home!

  • Second comment. I don’t mind not having a floor plan to look at, but I do miss a list of retail sources. Btw, the vanity room’s even more spectacular viewed the second time.

    • I am so technically challenged that I could not figure out how to do the source list. If you have any questions about where I got anything feel free to ask me.😍

      Brette

  • Awesome job Brette and Blair on creating such a warm and inviting home. I adore the vignettes that you have created throughout your home filled with art and curiosities. I bet there are so many good stories around how you acquired the items in your home. Thanks for sharing a home that reflects who you are!

    • What a sweet comment! Thank you so much. It truly has been a pleasure discovering my joy and passion for creating spaces that feel unique and fresh. When that resonates with others it makes it even better! Thank you so much.

      Brette

  • One of the most beautiful houses I’ve seen on this site!! Sunroom envy !! and the artwork through out the house was gorgeous. You’ve created a perfect hide away.

    • Wow that is quite the compliment! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I am so thrilled to be a part of this site in anyway possible. Thank you again🤓

      Brette

  • Oh my, this is so beautiful! So artsy yet warm. Love the wall papered step. I’ll have to look at this one several more times to take it all in.

    • Thank you so much! I got the idea for the stairs from @oldhomelove I found the removable wallpaper on Etsy and had her cut it to the exact dimensions. So, it was a real breeze to accomplish. And then I matched the tread paint to the background of the wallpaper and voila!

      Brette

    • The wall color in the living room is Benjamin Moore silver fox and I took Valspar lime wash and painted it over it.

      Brette

  • What a wonderful home! It feels compelling and comfortable, which is a masterful combination. I’d love to know more about the color block painting (triptych?) in the bedroom!

    • Isn’t it a fun painting?! I purchased it from Jason Trotter on Chairish . He has several of his pieces listed on there. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  • Delightful cottage! Whimsical, rustic, classic, warm, inviting…home!!! All of it from art, furnishings, paint & fabrics envelope you even through pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  • I’m going through my emails deleting everything except DS’ emails and this post pops up. I’m currently interurban between ICT and NYC. Talk about worlds colliding. I have to say, shopping for furniture in Wichita has been my favorite pastime. My boyfriend keeps reminding me “we have enough chairs now!” 😂 bah humbug.

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