Go west young man

By Kristin Baker

Larry & René West, Our Town Realtors.

Larry & René West, Our Town Realtors.

When Larry and René met through a mutual client, neither knew their budding romance would lead to both a successful marriage and business partnership.

Some might say Larry West painted himself a stroke of luck in 2003 when he took a residential painting job and met interior decorator René.

When Larry and René met through a mutual client, neither knew their budding romance would lead to both a successful marriage and business partnership.

When Larry Met René

Larry West, a painting contractor who owns West & Co. Painting, was busy painting the entire interior of Dr. Terry and Jody Klein’s new home when the Kleins met René of A’llure Interior Design through a family member. With René’s guidance, the Kleins decided to add more color to their walls, so many of the rooms needed to be repainted. Because of this, René and Larry began communicating, but only via telephone.

“I was giving René a lot of trouble about (repainting) over the phone,” Larry West said. “That was the typical experience I’d had with designers in the past – always changing their minds.”

One Saturday, Larry and René told one another on the phone that neither had time to retrieve a new paint color from the store. René could not leave her home because she was having a garage sale. “So here comes this guy to the garage sale, and he buys a bedroom set and a basketball goal for his son, and he has to leave it and come back later,” René said. “He calls later to come get it, and he goes, ‘This is Larry West.’ I said, ‘Larry West the painter?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Well this is René, the decorator.’”

Despite being disgruntled that Larry was visiting garage sales when he should have been at the paint store, René agreed to have coffee with the painter. He picked her up for their first date when she was taking a break from work at the Kleins’ home. “We talked for four hours,” Larry said.

René chimed in: “It was almost like we knew each other forever….It was definitely meant to be.”

René does interior design in five states, and also brought the home staging trend to Wichita in 1997.

René does interior design in five states, and also brought the home staging trend to Wichita in 1997.

René’s Businesses

Shortly after they met, the Wests realized that not only did their personalities complement one another, but so did their chosen professions. The couple married in 2006, and their businesses have been booming ever since.

René started A’llure Interior Design in Texas in 1990. René has a degree in graphic design and commercial art with a minor in interior design.

René does design work in five states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas. Throughout her career she has completed impressive projects, including her work for Wichita businessman Phil Ruffin, which initially brought her to Kansas.

Ruffin learned about René after she did work at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, and he brought her to Wichita to design the interior for Wichita Greyhound Park. She completed further projects for Ruffin in the city, and while here, she said she “fell in love with Wichita.”

René began her second company, HomeShapers Staging Co., in 1997. Realtors familiar with René’s design work began to call her to ask if she would stage their homes. She was the first home stager in Wichita.

Clients appreciate René’s thriftiness, she said. “I like using what you have — using clients’ furniture, rearranging and getting rid of personal effects,” she said.

René also does a lot of specialty painting, including faux painting walls and painting murals.

 
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