A timely water leak leads to a chic, contemporary space in The View condominiums, perfect for a newlywed couple
“It’s transitioning from being a bachelor pad,” says radiologist Neil Bhargava of his high-rise condo in The View, with the building’s sweeping views of downtown, the River Market and the Missouri River. “Basically, anywhere you see color—that’s me,” says his new wife, Anju Bhagavan, who is also a physician.
Bhargava moved into his condominium ten years ago. He and the building were on the brink of new beginnings: He had just started a new job and the building had just been finished. “I didn’t think I’d be here very long,” Bhargava says. “This was basically an open space with builder-grade finishing. It was all about the convenience and the view.”
Then three years ago a leak in a water heater in a condo upstairs wreaked extensive but stealthy damage. Water had poured down the inside of the walls and settled under the floors. Suddenly Bhargava’s entire kitchen and floors needed to be replaced. While this wasn’t exactly good news, he saw it as an opportunity. Uninterested in simply replacing what had been, he knew he needed a plan.
“There was a lot of dark wood—both the kitchen cabinets and the floor—which made it look a little suburban. It never really fit,” Bhargava says.
In the face of having to renovate, he did a little clicking around online and made a cold call to architect Dan Maginn, now a principal at Draw, who was then a principal at El Dorado, to help him re-envision the space.
“Neil is just this really cool guy, who—because of his profession—understands process. He was very trusting,” says Maginn. Process is important to Maginn, too. When he begins working with someone new he focuses not only on understanding the space, but understanding the client. Ultimately the goal is to bring out the best in both.
Listening to Bhargava’s thoughts on the shortcomings of his home, Maginn began to reimagine the open rectangle of the main living space. “While we were talking, Neil told me he loved being in his room as a kid building with Legos so he could be in his own world,” says Maginn. “I wanted to give him his ultimate room.” He began to envision a smaller space more conducive to relaxation and creation.
Combining Bhargava’s love of Legos and his extensive CD collection (and its necessary storage) Maginn designed a custom storage wall made up of stacking “blocks” that delineated Bhargava’s office. This allows the view through to the city to have a starring role, while also creating personal space for him to work at home.
Adding interest and dimension was key to the entire redesign. White-oak floors lighten the space while its subtle grain adds interest. Scrim, the rough-textured yet sheer fabric at the windows, diffuses light and enhances the shift from day to night.
In the living room, Bhargava and Maginn agreed that the low seating would deemphasize the lower ceiling height. The dark leather sofa and chair and a Carrara marble coffee table ground the room.
A new, sleek white kitchen is tucked into the back of the space. A counter-height table can function for serving or prep or for dining with its sculptural Norman Cherner stools at the ready.
The newlyweds have made a commitment to buying a new piece of original art every year. Two paintings by Retna, a Los Angeles street artist, hang in the hallway to the bedrooms.
Borrowing a little room from the guest bedroom, Bhargava was able to enlarge the master bedroom closet. The white-oak paneling of the wall becomes the headboard for the bed facing large windows.
The couple, who celebrated their marriage in three distinctly different ways, is just settling in. “We had a wedding celebration with our families in India, a party here in Kansas City and we got married in Las Vegas,” says Bhagavan. “It was amazing and exhausting,” she says.
Now that Bhagavan has moved from Boston where she was living and still works, the pair is focusing on relaxing and setting up house together. They enjoy exploring the city and walking to the River Market. Based on their home’s bachelor pad roots, is she interested in finding new digs? “No more moving!” Bhagavan exclaims. Still, after surviving medical school, a renovation, one move and three weddings, they seem destined for new beginnings.
Bergamot & Ivy Design