Home for the Holidays


Karyn Brooke, founder of Sidelines Custom Floral Designs, has one simple piece of advice for decorating your home for the holidays.

“When you walk in, it should make you happy,” she says. Of course, that’s a good guiding principle when it comes to choosing your décor any time of year, but it feels especially appropriate during a season filled with so many memories and traditions.


The florist and design pro, who decorates both residential and commercial spaces for the holidays, says some of the clients she works with are starting from scratch, while others may have favorite pieces they want to incorporate into their festive décor. Regardless of where you’re beginning the decorating process, keep basic design principles in mind, she advises. The style of your home can help you determine the aesthetic that will work best, and pay attention to your physical space – high ceilings call for a bigger Christmas tree, for instance. Your decorations may also depend on your household.

“If you have a house with little kids, you’re going to want bright colors and fun things and snowmen; those things they just love to look at,” Brooke says. For couples who find themselves with an empty nest for the first time, a more refined look might be called for.

Aim to highlight pieces you love, whether they’re family treasures or new finds, and don’t feel constrained by a traditional holiday color palette. Consider playing off colors present in your everyday décor for an unexpected look that works with your existing pieces, she says. Homes decorated in more neutral tones can serve as the perfect backdrop for punchier colors, or stay in line with your home’s aesthetic and opt for elegant all-white decorations or white and silver items. Gold has also made a major comeback in the last few years.

Brooke says garland lights are gaining popularity, too. The strands, which consist of many tiny lights bundled together, provide major visual impact and can be used inside or out, Brooke notes.


“I love the incorporation of real holiday plants in with artificial because the vast majority of people don’t do fresh trees,” Brooke says. “Arrangements of fresh-cut greens get that fragrance throughout the house, which is awesome, and that can be something that you do a week or two before Christmas.”

Blooming amaryllis is a favorite for the season, along with paperwhite narcissus and poinsettias, which are now being grown in unusual colors, she adds.

Since the most wonderful time of the year often ends up being the most hectic time of the year for many of us, plants or small touches like simple garlands or decorative bundles on nightstand tables can serve as a fun change to your day-to-day style without requiring much effort, Brooke says. And don’t underestimate the power of introducing a seasonal fragrance, be it through scented candles or potpourri.

Decorating for the winter season rather than the holidays can also help save time and prevent stress. Brooke notes taking a more general approach and adding accents like trendy blue and white jars and snow-covered branches provide a fresh look with a longer life – so you can enjoy the New Year rather than worrying about taking down nowout- of-season items.

Perhaps the most significant way to quickly add a dose of holiday cheer is to focus on your tree, whether it’s a table-top model or a creatively decorated artificial tree.

“You can take a plain green tree and fill it with Christmas lights, you can put some fake snow on the branches, you can add snowball arrangements, you can add silver, you can add crystal, you can add any of those things and it would be very simple and change a room,” Brooke says.


In her own home, Brooke says each room has its own personality for the holidays. The dining room is more vintage while her living room has a Western feel because of its year-round décor. The spaces are tied together with ornaments.

“I like glass ornaments – the more color, the more detail, the older they are, the more they make me happy,” she says. Her tree is gold wire and adorned with treasured ornaments passed down from her mother.

Brooke’s collection of vintage reindeer also has sentimental roots. Every year, her father would buy her mother a centerpiece decorated with the red velvet reindeers with silver glitter antlers and noses from a flower shop on Troost Avenue, and Brooke’s mother saved many of them over the years.

“It just reminds me of my dad coming home and making my mom so happy with a Christmas centerpiece,” she says.

Incorporating those cherished items can be what makes a house feel like home during the holidays, and there’s always a way to tie them into your décor, she says, whether it’s by surrounding them with greenery or grouping several items together with glass balls and other seasonal accents.

“Everybody’s Christmas is so different, and the options are just endless,” Brooke says. “I think that’s the fun.”

Prepping for the Future


It is well documented that Kansas City is a philanthropic city; our residents support great causes and initiatives. In doing research on nonprofits, we found this mantel of giving has been taken up by four Pembroke Seniors: Michael Innes, Ethan Angrist, Matthew Berkley, and Grace Parkerson, who formed a group called “Guys & Gals Giving Grants” to raise funds for Harmony Project KC.

Harmony Project KC, based at the Northeast Community Center provides tuition-free, intense, orchestral music instruction, practice, and performance opportunities, building an orchestra with diverse young people in their own neighborhoods, after school and weekends, year-round, in a safe environment. “The program does not solely focus on the musical aspect but also on their academics, social skills, and responsibility,” Innes explained.

Berkley added, “Our first goal was to spread awareness about Harmony Project KC; then we concentrated on asking for funding so more kids could attend.”

These four young philanthropists worked for six months researching, drafting letters, and creating a presentation. They’ve been meeting with everyone from CEOs and the heads of charitable foundations to their own grandparents and classmates’ parents. “After reaching out to family and friends, we started researching local foundations that support at-risk kids, education, and the arts,” Angrist said. “Then making phone calls and getting appointments with funders. It was harder than any of us expected.”

The hard work has paid off for the kids at Harmony Project, as Guys & Gals Giving Grants has raised almost $20,000 of its $30,000 goal.

“It’s definitely been eye-opening,” Parkerson said. “We really had to sell ourselves and the program to people who didn’t really know us or the program at all. But once we got in the door, the program sold itself.”

“We are fortunate to have compassionate young people willing to engage with and commit to their community; it bodes well for our future,” said Laura Shultz, executive director of the Northeast Community Center and Harmony Project KC.

Youth Ambassadors


In her journal, “M” wrote that she was sexually abused by a family member when she was younger and that she didn’t like to go to school because she couldn’t read or write well. Was it a call for help or just a statement of truth? When asked if she wanted help she said she did, but as a minor, a parent’s or guardian’s permission is essential. When we asked, we were granted permission to have her tested academically, but we were not given permission to seek outside professional help for her past abuse. At the age of 15, our shy, withdrawn student tested at the first-grade level of reading and writing. Today, she is a productive community member, working while taking college courses.

“T” is one of 10 children in a family. Five are in prison, four for murder and one for armed bank robbery; three joined the military to escape their environment; and one graduated high school and is working odd jobs. Against all odds, “T” is now a student at UMKC and the first in her family to go to college.

And “K,” as a child, lived through many of her mother’s men. The last husband, “a good man,” was a crack addict who stole birthday money, Christmas presents, and beat her sister when she didn’t have money for more crack. “K” went to KU, is married, a mother of twins, and she and her husband, both past Ambassadors, currently are two of Youth Ambassadors’ finest teachers.

Youth Ambassadors (YA), a local nonprofit organization established in 2010, serves underserved teenagers, a substantial portion of whom have a history of multiple trauma exposure and who continue to live in compromising circumstances that often create barriers to their own success. Unabated intergenerational poverty, single-parent households, the continuation of blighted infrastructures, high unemployment, underemployment, transiency, and teenage incarceration rates are among the myriad of problems our youth face.

Due to countless risk factors, our Ambassadors like “M,” “T,” and “K,” require positive role models and targeted support systems in order to work through personal barriers and reach their full potential. YA recognizes that empowering youth with life skills, job skills, social emotional learning and opportunities for creative expression contributes to the ultimate goal: that youth successfully transition into adulthood with the aspiration and skills to drive their education and employment opportunities.

A 2017 study by The Pennsylvania State University with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown the benefits of investing in social emotional health are increasingly evident. Research shows that “good social emotional skills can lead to better education, employment, and physical and mental health, and to fewer problems with substance abuse and antisocial behavior or relationships.” Key findings of the study showed that students were more successful in the learning environment and that they were more likely to graduate from both high school and college. In effect, they are more likely to get jobs, and jobs with higher paying salaries, which is a benefit to the individual and society as a whole. Developing better social emotional skills also helps individuals lead healthy lives and avoid risky behavior, which can contribute to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency, and crime. The study concludes that investing in SEL programming generates positive impact for individuals and society, as well as a positive impact on overall population health.

Youth Ambassadors is designed as an educational, employment program. Ambassadors are paid minimum wage to take four classes daily: Life and Job Skills, Art, Writing, and either Health, Speech, Financial Literacy, or Critical Consciousness & Employment Opportunities. In addition, they are taught that they are resilient and their voice matters. They alone can speak for themselves, so they are taught advocacy skills essential for positive change.

Annually, Youth Ambassadors provides employment to over 300 teenagers during non-school hours when youth are most susceptible to negative influences. Existing programming includes an eight-week summer intensive and an academic year Saturday academy. Small class sizes, with a ratio of seven to 10 students to every teacher, develop close student-mentor relationships and teach targeted skills through interactive teaching methods, including two-way teaching, team idea mapping, and discussion groups.

It takes every stakeholder together to solve the problems of poverty, trauma, and poor schooling. Youth Ambassadors believes each one of our teenage youth is the future of our community. Thanks to supporters, volunteers, and various community partners, we are able to empower teenage youth, building skills and competencies that allow them to be successful in their present daily lives and future endeavors.

Meet Me at the (Supper) Club

words by EMILY & STEWART LANE  | photos by ANNA PETROW

As a couple who frequents the restaurant scene in Kansas City, we try our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is new and innovative in our local food scene. The year 2017 has brought about two places in particular that have become stops for us on a routine basis, and now we cannot imagine our city without them. We’re delighted to share our take on Corvino Supper Club and The Monarch Bar.

EL: Our first visit to Corvino Supper Club was so memorable. It was the last date we went on before leaving for our wedding in Colorado, so we were feeling pretty celebratory. That said, it doesn’t take an occasion to have the sense that something special is happening at Corvino, as every gorgeous detail makes you believe they were waiting especially for you. It’s dark, moody, elegant yet unpretentious, and, if you’re lucky, you might have someone playing the upright bass or piano on stage. The waitstaff is knowledgeable and patient, explaining things precisely and humbly. They all seem truly proud to be serving the food that Chef Corvino is creating. And starting our meal with glasses of the 2013 Argyle Brut sparkling wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon, kicked off everything on the right foot.

SL: Then we moved on to perusing the menu. It is arranged from light to heavy and allows the diner to enjoy several small plates rather than one entrée. We love eating that way, where we can share and enjoy a variety of flavors and textures.

Chef Michael Corvino’s food comes to the table as if it was pulled from a photo shoot. His plating style is elegant but relaxed, an organic approach that mirrors his quality of ingredients. The fried chicken ssam, with crisp darkmeat chicken served with tender lettuce and homemade hot sauce, was an elevation to all other chicken dishes. If you’re feeling indulgent, the made-for-two (or more) dry-aged bone-in rib-eye is an experience worth having. And the steak tartare, topped with a smoked béarnaise and pickled mustard seeds, reinvents the age-old classic. That’s a repeat order for me.

EL: Speaking of repeat orders. . . I think I’ve requested we order the chicken ssam every time we’ve been in there since, haven’t I? It’s so satisfying. One thing that I really love about the bar situation is that they feature several wines on tap from Proletariat Wine Company, one of the first keg-only wineries. I think it’s a nice nod to Chef Corvino’s hometown of Walla Walla, Washington (where the winery is based), and I love that it’s more environmentally conscious.

SL: Speaking of environment, the entire atmosphere of Corvino Supper Club changes at 10 p.m. when the late-night menu, featuring the famous Corvino cheeseburger, starts up, along with some of the best live music in Kansas City. And leaning into my wife’s love of all things sweet, the late-night desserts, like ice cream sandwiches or darkchocolate brownies, showcase perfection in their simplicity.

EL: Chef Corvino and his wife/ business partner, Christina, haven’t missed a detail. From the atmosphere, to the food and bar menu, to earthenware plates on the tables, and the napkins printed with the signature Corvino raven, their care and love of this place shines through each and every time we visit.

SL: They also feature an intimate Tasting Room (by reservation only, a two-and-a-half-hour experience) complete with wine pairings.

Needless to say, our first visit to Corvino Supper Club wasn’t our last, and we look forward to enjoying more visits for years to come.

Corvino Supper Club, located at 1830 Walnut, is open Monday– Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. Reservations recommended.

The Evolution of the Workplace in Kansas City


As an architect who specializes in corporate offices, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the impact of the modern workplace. After all, more than 35 percent of our lives is spent working, most commonly in traditional office environments. We spend nearly as much time in our workplaces as we do awake in our own homes. And the research shows that the design of our workplaces has a dramatic impact on our happiness, motivation, and even our health.

Today’s workforce values a collaborative and authentic culture, quality of life perks, and flexible work environments more than ever before. This undeniable shift is evidenced in spaces throughout the city that are adapting to meet the needs of the modern employee in intuitive and creative ways.

Here’s a closer look at three local workplaces that embody the evolution of the modern office environment.


Attracting and Retaining Talent

The design of a new three-story headquarters for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest milk marketing cooperative, pays tribute to the 15,000 dairy farmer owners the organization represents while communicating its global reach. The design uses every program element and design detail – from a milk bar to blackened steel silverware – as an opportunity to tell DFA’s functional and cultural stories. The space is chock-full of amenities, from bocce ball to a fitness studio, creating a space to attract and engage the best and brightest. The open office is a cultural change for DFA. Its previous office had more than 176 closed offices. The new space, which opened in May, has just 10. To promote collaboration, the workplace has more than 100 meeting rooms for a staff population of fewer than 500 people. Even the CEO’s workspace can be easily converted into a shared meeting space.

Individual workstations have personal storage wardrobes and height-adjustable desks. Custom wood screens at each workstation provide privacy and connections to the farmers they serve. This transition to workstations that provide the individual employee flexibility subtly reinforces the organization’s people-first mentality.


Telling a Brand Story

The new AMC Theatre Support Center in Leawood, Kansas, is an image of efficiency and innovation, uniquely tailored to help AMC meet its goals for driving reinvention and growth in the theater business. The building creates a layered and visually interesting experience for employees and visitors and turns the idea of office building on its head, with fun communal spaces and expansive outdoor patios to give employees a reprieve from the workplace.

The interior of the new Theatre Support Center is fresh and bright with project teams grouped into “neighborhoods” within the open and flexible floor plan. A bold white, black, and red color scheme is carried throughout the interior offices and meeting rooms and numerous whiteboard surfaces offer a backdrop for continuous brainstorming and idea sharing. Each floor has a kitchenette/break room, conference areas, and workspaces. Details like a graphic history wall and creative graphics inspired by movie posters tell current and future employees about AMC’s rich legacy.


Building Workplace Design Standards

Designed to showcase views of Country Club Plaza, the interior environment for Polsinelli’s 450 employees at Plaza Vista is timeless and metropolitan. A sevenstory, cantilevered stairwell winds through the center of the building and acts like a sculptural wood ribbon that creates visual and physical connectivity.

The plan’s strategic adjacencies optimize operational efficiencies and give Polsinelli the flexibility to reconfigure the layout. Polsinelli’s modern work environment features collaborative seating areas throughout the building and sit-stand workstations in all administrative and associate offices. Multipurpose training rooms provide space mock trials, while the hospitality lounge provides flexible seating options. Hospitality lounges and a modern sophistication make the Polsinelli project one that is informing the design of law offices across the nation. The workplace design standards developed at Plaza Vista have impacted the way the rapidly growing law firm incorporates its brand into its spaces across the country. In each city, the space is distinctly “Polsinelli” but with local art, amenities, and hospitality spaces that reflect the culture of the community.

Polsinelli’s Allison Berey, chief marketing officer, told MetroWireMedia of the Plaza Vista project, “It was a complete rebrand in terms of our brand strategy: the design, the creative execution, and the underlying value proposition we developed and started to convey to the workplace. If you look back at the historical architecture of our buildings and brand, it really was a different level of sophistication than where we are now. It was far more traditional. Now we’ve really moved in this direction of a more contemporary brand design and architecture. We’re ensuring that the vision for our space nicely aligns with the brand we are building nationally.”

In each of these cases, we see the workplace function as an extension of broader organizational growth and cultural goals. Smart facility managers and executives understand that people are their chief currency and most important asset. In turn, the workplace needs to be tailored to meet their needs. Whether that’s a bocce ball court, daycare offerings, or a full-service kitchen, these amenities should be responsive to the unique makeup of the employees. And this means executives have to be willing to ask questions, honestly evaluate their existing work environments, adjust corporate policies, and better understand the amenities that would make their organization a desirable place to work.

By doing this, we stop thinking of offices as simply a place people go and, instead, take a cue from DFA, AMC, and Polsinelli and think of office spaces as the heartbeat of a company.