Modern Manor

A Fairway home combines sleek style with natural materials for a comfortable family dwelling

As co-owner, with her husband, chuck, of Carthage Stoneworks, Leslie Erickson has had plenty of experience helping clients find just
the right products for their home projects. But after the couple built their home from the ground up, she developed a new insight into the challenges they face.

“Now that I’ve been through it, I can better iden- tify with our clients and the choices they have to make,” Erickson says.

With access to countless suppliers, narrowing down the materials to use was often tricky, but before the couple even found the site to build on, they knew they wanted a sleek, modern-style home.

“I think living in condos in downtown Chicago really made us appreciate that look,” Erickson says.

Choosing the architect to design their home was another easy decision. The Ericksons spotted a sign for Hufft Projects on the lawn of a Mission Hills home they’d admired on their regular walks through the neighborhood near their previous home in Fairway.

They met with architect Matthew Hufft and instantly knew that he was the one for the job. Finding the right location was another matter: The Ericksons wanted to stay in Fairway but recognized that getting the large, flowing living spaces they wanted would mean starting from scratch. As luck would have it, they found the spot just a street away.

“The original house was marketed as a teardown,” Erickson says. “It was one of those where they only show the front of the house on the realtor’s website.”

After deciding to buy the dilapidated and termite-infested house, the Ericksons met with Hufft on a weekly basis to work on the design for their new home. It took around five months of design meetings and submitting plans to get the city’s approval of their project.

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The old house was cleared away from the lot, along with a mature sycamore tree. It was a tough call for the couple to make—Fairway is known as “the city of trees,” after all—but necessary to allow for the larger footprint the new design required. And the tree didn’t go to waste: The Ericksons dried and sealed a thick slice of its stump to create a cocktail table for the living room, and Hufft Projects’ design studio created the home’s dining room table using planks cut from its trunk.

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The simple, unpainted wood furniture, along with cabinetry custom-built by Hufft Projects, works in harmony with the sleek marble and natural stone that the Ericksons used generously throughout the house, adding warmth while preserving the materials’ natural beauty.

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A perfect example is the home’s kitchen.

“We wanted it to be seamless, with no upper cabinets to make the most of the glass tiles and how they reflect light,” Erickson says. “But the main goal was that we wanted it to be a very open space that would be good for entertaining.”

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The 18-foot-long island built from Calcutta gold marble sees to that, providing a central place for the hosts to set up a bar or buffet, or for guests to pull up a stool and chat.

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Although their home project was the first time the Ericksons worked with Hufft, their business had previously given them experience working with a number of reliable contractors. These contacts made it easier to implement a number of other custom design solutions, such as the “floating headboard,” which Hufft Projects designed to act as a room divider in the master bedroom.

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And of course, being in the business put a number of great materials at the Ericksons’ fingertips. Some of those they chose, such as the Porcelanosa tiles in the upstairs baths and showers, were sourced directly from the manufacturers, but others, such as the marble lining the downstairs powder room wall,were right under their noses.

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Those long white tiles in the powder room were actually cut from a large piece of Carrara marble left over from a commercial job that Carthage did long ago. It had been been sitting on a pallet outside the ware- house, exposed to the elements for more than 20 years, when Erickson spotted its potential and found a use for it.

For other furnishings, Erickson often looked beyond Kansas City to find the modern pieces she wanted, ordering key pieces from companies such as Design Within Reach, Room + Board and CB2.

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“It’s scary ordering something without seeing it in person first,” she says. “But I just wasn’t able to find everything I wanted locally.”
With patient research and a few leaps of faith, the furnishings and décor came together, as well as the rest of the house.

The end result is a beautifully livable home elegantly derived from the partnership of great design and great materials.

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