Interviews with KC Area Top Designers: Leann Lynn - McCroskey Interiors


From her chic personal fashion sense to her choice of careers, design has always influenced Leann’s life. Soon after graduating with her interior design credentials from Northwest Missouri State University, she started her professional career with a firm in Dallas.

Leann’s expertise in textiles and her flair for current design trends, bring a fresh and innovative approach to all of her projects. Along with her design skills, she has a talent for listening carefully to clients’ goals for their home. Leann’s ability to transform their dreams into stylish and functional spaces makes her not only an inspired designer but also a pleasure to work with.

Q:  Leann, we're ready to really change up our home.  It's feeling dated, especially with our furnishings.  We want to create beautiful spaces, but our family still needs to live comfortably in them.  Where do we start?

Leann:  You're not alone.  Busy lifestyles force us to focus on the daily priorities.  And when it comes to interior design, many people can quickly get discouraged trying to plan and execute on their own.  So, they get stuck, not knowing how to begin.

The good news is Kansas City has terrific interior design talent and McCroskey Interiors is a great example.  Nearly every one of our clients goes through that first stage of "not knowing" before they connect with us.  What I like to do is begin with a walk-thru of a home to identify what's most important in the sense of visual impact and functionality . . . what will make the biggest difference first.  Then, we complete one space before moving to next.  Creating perfection in one room - then living with it for a time - creates confidence to move to the next space.  Budget drives many aspects of "how much", as does potential disruption in the household.  Open floor plans sometimes create bigger challenges when done in stages, but the foundational goal is to spend wisely and create stunning spaces.

The process is a bit different when you want to address multiple rooms, or even an entire home at once.  The constant, however, is to make a plan.  With an end goal in mind, the pace is the only difference.  And because great room design happens in layers, it's also possible to tackle the base layer first in multiple spaces, then repeat the next layer and so on.

When I first entered this business, I heard about "clients for life".  And, it's true!  Once you've partnered with a professional designer, the relationship should evolve as your design vision takes shape and comes to life.  There's simply great value in having a confident partnership from which to create a beautiful home.

So, back to your question . . . 

Which room in your home, once reimagined and refreshed, will bring you the most pleasure?  That's where you should likely begin.  Have dessert first!  It will help you realize an immediate return and help shape your vision for the next space.  BTW: Most of my clients start with either the Kitchen/Hearth, Living Room or Bedroom.  That's a great example of the "begin where you live" approach.

Q:  We have a house full of furniture.  Some of it absolutely needs to go.  Other pieces are still nice and have sentimental and family value.  How do we decide whether to refresh with some of what we have vs replace and start completely fresh?

Leann:  This is a case-by-case issue.  If your vision is to move from a traditional to modern style, mixing old with new can be challenging.  On the other hand, mixing in a few cherished pieces can be dramatic and unexpected.  

Designers sometimes talk about building around an "inspiration piece".  If you already have that piece, be it an item of furniture, artwork, lighting fixture or textile, you're already ahead of most.  Now, decide if that one piece is meant to set the tone for the entire room to follow, or if it's a dramatic highlight to become that unexpected conversation piece surrounded by a complimentary but different style.

And don't forget about the options to refinish or recover a cherished piece.  There are so many wonderful fabrics from which to choose to transform that family heirloom into a stunning  "new" addition. 

In design there are certainly "rules" so as to avoid creating visual confusion and discord.  But, there's always room to make a room personal and uniquely yours.  In fact, that's the part of design I love most.

Q:  I don't know what "my style" is.  Redecorating really pulls me out of my comfort zone.  How do I start to find "inspiration"?  

Leann:  Social media is a terrific starting point.  Instagram has lots of visual references.  Look for a single piece that captures and captivates you.  Sometimes, it's an entire room.  Sometimes inspiration even comes from a vacation or business trip, a restaurant, a visit to a gallery or event.  I've had clients start with a simple color swatch.  We build on that.  

The bottomline is a qualified and attentive interior designer will ask the right questions, listen carefully, then lead to options and amplify what you are expressing.  

Sometimes, a husband prefers one style and the wife prefers another.  Modern vs Classic, for example.  That can present an initial challenge, but there's always a way to develop a wonderful solution.  I love to help my clients work thru swatches and colors.  Start with the most basic elements and work up from there.  Ideas become more refined and even evolve as we layer the overall design plan.  

"Transitional" was born of the desire to combine elements from what has been more narrowly defined styles.  Clean, modern lines with elements of classic embellishment.  Light base colors with splashes of bright color.  The most important thing to avoid is "Trendy".  That, by definition, comes and goes from style quickly.  "On Trend" is more lasting and lends itself to evolve as your tastes do so as well. 

I love and live in this design world and really enjoy the process.  Can you tell?

Q:  I'm intimidated by just the thought of redecorating on my own.  On the other hand, I'm afraid of how much a top-notch interior designer is going to cost.  Please ease my fears!

Leann:  You're not alone.  Most people don't hire interior designers with frequency.  It's an unknown world to them.  On the other hand, the cost of home furnishing mistakes can be big and long-lasting.  A small investment in the beginning is right for nearly every situation and budget.  Also remember, custom-order furniture is not necessarily more expensive.  In many cases, the payback is much faster when it comes to total satisfaction.  

And in some cases, like with Seville Home, carefully sourced in-stock furniture can look completely custom in your home.  That's where my relationships with furniture sources become so important.  I've already scouted them, qualified them and bet my reputation on only those with the best service, quality, price and unique offerings.

I ask my clients to look at total value as a measure of success.  When that happens, the result is the feeling of "wow" you get as every aspect of a project comes together perfectly.  

Q:  When you're sourcing furniture for my project, you have many choices of where to go, as you just mentioned.  You specifically called out Seville Home.  What do they do to earn that kind of endorsement and loyalty and how does that benefit me?  

Leann:  Great question.  You're right, with traditional as well as online shopping so widespread these days, the options for furniture sourcing seem limitless.  But don't be fooled.  When it comes to investing in fine furniture, you need to be focused on total value rather than simply best price.  Too often I talk to first-time clients who purchased on perceived best price or convenience, only to regret those decisions.  Honest and lasting value is made up of multiple components.  

Great in-stock selection, so you can see, touch and experience the pieces is really important.  Something can look beautiful in a picture, but not fit your body at all.  That's a huge miss.  And that's just the beginning.  

Seville Home is brilliant when it comes to customer service and a very knowledgeable design team.  Their selection is significant across all price points and their access to the finest lines of furniture is deep.  My job is to be sure your purchases fit you and your lifestyle perfectly.  I want to eliminate all the guesswork.  Seville Home does that and has the local, family-owned backing to give us both the confidence to ensure your total satisfaction.

And don't even think of shopping online when it comes to fine furniture.  Again and again, I hear about huge selection and lowest prices.  It's simply not true.  You're not looking to invest in a huge selection.  You need a few beautiful, finely-crafted creations that will last.  To get there is a very personal, hands-on process.  With partners like Seville Home, you have the benefit of knowing vs hoping.  And you have the confidence of outstanding customer service from the time we walk into their gallery to well after your project is complete.  

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