We continually seek out quality and class in midcentury modern homes, which is exactly what the owners of this 1955 Leslie W. Cory home brought in by retouching and renovating.
First listed as a ‘tear-down’ at a low price, the homeowners at the time decided to revamp the house by adding bits to the premises. Current owners came across the home through an open house but only went forward with an offer after it re-appeared on the market for a second time.
Living in the home for some time gave them a feel for what areas needed retouching and renovation. Patience pays off, and after major renovation the midcentury modern dream was realized.
Can you tell us something about yourself and the history of your house?
The home was built in 1955 by Architect Leslie W. Cory for his family. Mr. Cory visited the home in 2010 and said it was the irregular terrain of the lot that drew him to Leawood, as it was the perfect lot for his design. He also estimated the home cost $35,000 in 1955. It is also the first modern/contemporary home on Leawood’s Historic Register.
The home was being sold as a “tear-down”, but the previous owners decided to save and renovate it. They added the pool and a master suite.
We both originate from Nebraska but have lived in the Kansas City area for 20 years. We purchased the home in 2015.
How did you come to live in your house? Were you specifically looking for a midcentury one?
We had been looking for quite some time, and were definitely looking for a modern or midcentury modern home. We love midcentury architecture, but they are so difficult to find. We stumbled upon our home through an open house, but at the time it was listed outside of our budget.
Shortly after we went through the open house, it went off the market. About 6-9 months later we saw it was re-listed at a price closer to our budget, and we came through another open house, then decided to move forward.
On which area/s did you focus during the renovation?
We knew there were a few things we wanted to change right away, like removing carpet and relocating the laundry area. But we wanted to live in the home before making any major changes.
So we lived in it for about a year and half, then undertook a major renovation to add a mudroom, relocate the staircase, and connect the detached garage to the home. Through that renovation, the majority of the home was renovated. At this point, there are only a few rooms that we haven’t renovated.
When choosing materials, colors and furniture have you been influenced by its midcentury heritage? If so, how?
Definitely. We wanted to be conscientious of the home’s legacy, while bringing it up to date in functionality. We tried to make most of the choices based on what would be appropriate for the time period of the home.
Many midcentury home owners lament the difficulty of finding the right contractor. Someone who knows how to approach the unique aspects of a midcentury house. Do you share the same experience? Would you recommend the people you worked with?
We knew our contractor from a prior project, so were familiar with the quality of his work and able to guide the process around the mid century aspects. He was great to work with and I would recommend him to a homeowner who already has a vision on materials and finishes.
About the exterior, what did you renovate/add? Did you hire someone for the landscaping? If not, where did you source plants and materials?
We added a mudroom onto the back of the house, that connected the home to the garage and added much needed storage space.
We also sit on a very sloped lot, so did some exterior work to assist with drainage. Some of the landscaping elements were in place when we purchased the home, but we modified a number of areas and worked with a landscaper to change out a number of plantings.
The house features some really nice details such as wooden framed floor to ceiling windows. Would you share some best practices on how to maintain them in such good condition, if any?
I don’t know that there was anything out of the ordinary, just regular dusting and maintenance. There is a wood orange oil that worked well to keep the wood from drying out.
What do you like the most about living in a midcentury house and why?
I love the uniqueness of the home. Many properties in our neighborhood are being torn down and replaced by McMansions. Everytime I turned down the street and saw my house, I’d think how much I love it. It’s truly one-of-a-kind.
What’s your favourite part of the house and why?
The renovated kitchen is definitely my favorite space. I was involved in every aspect of the design of that space, including the cabinet layout and all material choices. Our custom cabinet makers, Bootlace Design & Build, were fantastic to work with, particularly since we had a very unique plan with the two story mudroom. I also love the master closet! The pool is also fantastic.
Last but not least, do you have any tips for people interested in buying a mid-century house today? What should they pay attention to and why?
Pay attention to the quality of any remodeling work that has been done. Mid-century homes are in such demand, sometimes a flipper will come in and ruin the bones of the house.
Also look at how easy the unique characteristics will be to maintain and try to imagine living in the space. Think about how your family lives and plays and decide if it will work for you.
A word from the real estate agent:
For more info on the listing, click here
4 Bed | 3.5 Baths | 2 Car Garage | 3038 sf
Year Built: 1965
Lot Size: 32.332