A historic Sunset Hill mansion gets a new chapter

This home has pedigree.

The firm Wight & Wight, brother architects who designed the house, also created The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Jackson Country Courthouse. The list of the owners reads like the Debrett’s Peerage of Kansas City: The Hugh Ward family (as in Ward Parkway), lumber barons, a tech entrepreneur. Add to that a native Kansas City interior designer—Tom Britt—whose redesign got the 1906 Scottish Baronial mansion into the pages of Architectural Digest in 1978.

But when John Schuppan saw the house in 2014, what appealed to him was the three acres right across from Loose Park. “I don’t care about the interior,” he recalls telling his real estate agent. “I just want the land.”

His former home in Columbia, Missouri, had unexpectedly sold. “I had all this furniture and nowhere to go,” he recalled. He moved in December 2014 and decided to tackle the outdated kitchen and bathrooms while he lived on an air mattress with his cocker spaniels Melvin and Ralph.

Schuppan didn’t start with a grand plan. “If you have no plan, you have no problem,” he says. “When you remodel, you always find things you didn’t count on that didn’t go according to whatever plan you drew up, so I decided to go the other way.” He met a contractor working on the neighbors’ house and hired him on the spot.

First up was the bathroom. He told sub-contractor Lee Coate to demo the room and then “tell me what I can do.” From there, Schuppan found what he needed—vanities, countertops, appliances, tile, fixtures—and had them installed.

That’s how it went, room by room.

With a little help from design friends Aaron Dolan of Studio Home Interiors in Columbia, Dan Meiners and Kurt Knapstein here in K.C., the house now has the masculine, relaxed, comfortable, classic look Schuppan prefers.

Menswear patterns of pinstripe, houndstooth, herringbone, glen plaid, and paisley pair with classic navy, taupe, and cream to unite the rooms.

Schuppan also went with lighting from Visual Comfort and wallpaper by Ralph Lauren for a cohesive look.

The large entry hall still features the original wide double staircase rising gracefully to the second floor, but now carpeted in a neutral sisal.

To the left, the dining room sports dark navy walls, dining chairs in a Ralph Lauren pinstripe, and a crystal chandelier. Some homes have wine cellars or linen closets, but this one has a silver safe, a small storage room for valuables with a locked door right off the dining room. For a long time, Schuppan was locked out of his own silver safe until he figured out he could open up a wall in a connecting closet and get in.

A former sun porch is now the sunroom, made comfortable with repurposed dark wood furniture from Schuppan’s former home in Columbia. A Burmese temple angel keeps watch from a corner of the room.

Schuppan credits Kurt Knapstein with giving him the idea to expand the kitchen to give it a view of the back garden. Cream furniture-style cabinetry from Draper DBS in Pennsylvania gives the kitchen a fresh, clean, organized look. Honed granite countertops add to the classic feel. A Wolf range—a must for a guy who owns a restaurant—and dual dishwashers make clean up easier after parties. The butler’s pantry is now a beverage bar.

The powder room, in an Art Nouveau paisley with chest-of-drawers sink, makes the most of a tiny space.

Across the entry hall, the living room in neutrals features a vintage, but not original, mantel with Schuppan’s collection of antlers above it. In the corner, a glossy black Yamaha Disklavier or player piano helps Schuppan entertain effortlessly. His collection of antique globes sits atop a breakfront.

In the office, with its view of the back garden, grasscloth walls evoke memories of his family, as does his grandmother’s silver tea set. Schuppan filled the bookcases with his old school textbooks, turned backwards, a cost-saving measure until he can buy the thousand more books he needs to replace them.

On the second floor, the new guest bath was created from several smaller spaces. Schuppan prefers tile with a marble-look after his dogs ruined expensive Crema Marfil in a previous home. He also liked air tubs, which blow heated air into the water rather than Jacuzzi tubs, which recycle the bath water. The guest bedroom features navy pinstripe bedding, carrying the menswear theme through, and his collections of airplanes and duck decoys gather on a bookcase.

A family room in the center of the second floor provides a great space to watch television and have friends and family hang out when they visit.

In the master bedroom, Schuppan says, “You can see that the walls are two-and-a-half feet thick—from the exterior stone to the framing and the interior walls.” An oriental carpet in shades of red ties into the black fireplace and the black-and-white bedding.

The master bath recalls all the luxuries of a Victorian gentleman’s club—a steam shower, a custom tub, and mahogany cabinetry. But ever mindful of the Crema Marfil incident, Schuppan opts for engineered stone countertops and a marble-look tile.

“It took a couple of years to get everything done, but I’ve had some great parties here,” Schuppan says. Recently on the Kappa House Tour, the Scottish Baronial is getting back into Kansas City’s social swing, where it rightly belongs.

Sources:

CARPENTER
Lee Coate, Coate Construction
10308 East 30th Terrace South
Independence, MO

CONTRACTOR
Gyllenborg Construction

FURNITURE AND
INTERIOR DESIGN
Studio Home & Interiors

DESIGN
Kurt Knapstein

Dan Meiners

LANDSCAPE
Putnam Landscape Maintenance & Design

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