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Building a Better Community

Showcasing the best in construction, design and volunteerism

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Thomas Hall Eagle Aerial Solutions

Originally published in Topeka City Lifestyle

Founded in 1978 as Everywoman’s Resource Center, Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas in Topeka not only assists parents with finding quality child care, but also helps child care providers make their centers the best they can be. 

As a nonprofit, raising funds is critical, and one of its biggest fundraisers is the annual Designers’ Showhouse. When it first took place over 40 years ago, homeowners would offer up their homes and take on part of the expense of renovation. “They would move out for six months, let us do our thing and then they would move back in, but that model changed for the last four houses,” says Gina Nellis, chairperson of the Designers’ Showhouse for the last five years. Child Care Aware now purchases the homes, and proceeds from the flip and ticket sales help fund its programs.

“We closed on this home at 8338 Southwest 37th Street on April 14th, 2022, exactly one year to the day that we opened for our VIP Patron Party.” The home tour opened to the public on April 21 and ran for three weekends through May 7. Prior to Covid, 4,000 to 6,000 people would tour the featured home. 

This year’s house was built in 1995, and it was very dated and closed in. The basement was unfinished as well. “We created a partnership with the Topeka Area Building Association and formed a construction team that was tasked with designing an updated floor plan,” says Gina. “One thing we ended up doing was flipping the kitchen and the formal dining room and taking down the wall in between the two. We put the dining table where the kitchen was, which created one long open room overlooking the great room.”

It was a huge project with lots of participants and the Topeka Area Building Association adopted it as a project. “Many of their members worked on it, and all of that was donated labor - the plumbing, the electrical, the HVAC work, all of the framing and the drywall, the laying of the carpet, and painting.” Most of the products are either donated or discounted. “People know that every dollar we save on the renovation goes to the programs and services that Child Care Aware offers.”

Once the construction was finished, it was time for the interior designers to work their magic, and they were pretty much given free rein to use their talents and creativity. “We had 13 design spaces and they all had their own designers, but some of those spaces, like outdoor living, had multiple designers,” she says. 

The home was also staged with furnishings that perfectly complemented the rooms. Buyers have the opportunity to purchase these items each year, sometimes at a discounted price. 

Although there were many designers, the rooms flow together nicely.  “Every year it looks like they all worked together, but they didn’t,” says Gina. 

She adds, “The main floor is very warm with lots of earth tones. One designer put beautiful wallpaper on one wall and then a beautiful green patterned tile on another. That same designer also put a fun tile on the floor of the mudroom.” 

The lower level is an entertainment hub. “It has a cyberpunk feel with a big neon heart that says ‘Love.’ It's got a big theater room and a wet bar. A sliding glass door leads out to a brand new pool.” 

Normally, the home would go up for sale sometime in April, but this year, the home was sold before it was even fully completed. “A couple with four kids was moving into town and they looked at it based on the design boards that the designers presented to us,” says Gina. “They were looking for a house that had land [the property has 3.8 acres] and a pool, which is hard to find in Topeka. It was the perfect fit for them and the perfect timing since they were looking to move in May.”

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