This historic renovation of a midcentury home sought to honor the heritage of the home but open up the main spaces for 21st century living.
The home in Kansas City, Missouri was originally built in 1954. The architecture firm Linscott, Kiene and Haylett designed something that was revolutionary at the time. The home utilized a T-shaped split-level plan giving a spacious, two-storey bedroom wing.
Their work is still seen in numerous Kansas City area civic, business, religuious and educational buildings.
The home was selected by the Kansas City Star as the most popular house in the 1954 Parade of Homes. Both the architecture firm Linscott, Kiene and Haylett and the builder, Jed K. Giles, were honored in 1956 by House and Home magazine for the home’s contribution to housing progress.
We asked Chris Fein the Principal Architect of the project at Forward Design | Architecture about the recent renovation and thoughts on midcentury influences.
What do you think was so special about the midcentury period in American design?
I am intrigued by informality of midcentury design where spaces are interconnected spatially yet still defined and distinct. Also the strong connection to the outdoors. Much contemporary architecture as well as traditional architecture don’t seem to address these issues quite as well.
What were the challenges for this project?
The biggest design challenge was how to design one open space that could provide functionality for different aspects of daily life.
By using the existing brick double-sided fireplace as a centering element, defined overhead planes, cabinetry, and a kitchen island to articulate defined “rooms” within the principal space we provide a sense of separation without sacrificing an open flow or abundant natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
When asked what tips he had for people interested in buying a midcentury house and what should they pay attention to, Chris said that “Honestly the quality of the design” was what matters most.
Sixty-eight years after it was originally built, this home has certainly stood the test of time and demonstrates how quality of design will endure through the decades.
Photos by Bob Greenspan