A second home in the Crossroads put this suburban couple in the middle of Kansas City’s downtown renaissance
Three years ago Steve Hunt was looking for a project. His passion for architecture and old buildings drew him to the Crossroads where a half-completed renovation offered just the type of opportunity he was seeking.
“I wanted to restore an old building but hold onto the original bones. I was looking to marry modern elements to a rustic space,” Hunt says.
The building with broad views of the gleaming Sprint Center and the sculptural Kansas City Star press pavilion had been updated but not completed.
“[The previous owners] had gutted the space and upgraded the utilities and the stairwells,” he says. This allowed him to dig right in to creating a space—a second home in an urban neighborhood—that would serve as both a retreat from his family’s traditional suburban home and his office.
“I had hundreds of pictures in my files of the kind of space that I wanted,” Hunt says. These images were the starting point for architects from Gould Evans, Geri Higgins from Portfolio Kitchen & Home and A. L. Huber Contracting.
Hunt envisioned a modern open plan enhanced by the original brick walls. With windows only on the front and back, natural light was a critical issue. Window wells inserted into the ceiling flood the space with sunlight. Additional LED lights inserted behind shallow metal sheets, which will patinate over time, eliminate shadows on the perimeter and highlight the original brick.
“It was important to keep these original elements, but they are imperfect,” Hunt says. “It was sometimes a challenge to marry them with the new construction.”
In addition to preserving the brick, Hunt wanted the ductwork to remain exposed. He had the surface painted, so it fades into the background, but left the metal finish of the sprinklers to reinforce the industrial aesthetic. All of the utilities originate in the alley and needed to run from the back of the loft to the front. The team agreed to conceal this infrastructure in boxes that run over the original concrete supports to keep the lines of the ceiling uninterrupted.
Floor-to-ceiling cantilevered metal-and-glass doors delineate Hunt’s workspace while keeping the open feeling he wanted. In addition to housing his office, he envisions the loft as a great place for family entertaining. He and his wife host their grown children and their friends there about twice a month.
Hunt wanted to be able to see from the front of the space all the way through to the back. A sleek, state-of-the-art kitchen encompasses one side of the comfortable living space that is the center of the loft. Two islands provide room for cooking and prep on one and gathering and grazing on the other. Hunt credits designer Geri Higgins with bringing his vision to life.
“A few people suggested that I look for a designer in New York, but I thought, ‘There’s got to be someone here in town,’” he says. “Geri was great. She understood that I like traditional but that I wanted this to be more transitional. More modern. I counted on her to keep me on track.”
The only interior walls in the space define the master suite and the guest bedroom. The master suite has large windows that overlook a building with a brick exterior that mirrors the loft’s interior walls. The guest room, which is nestled in the center of the space, maintains a light and open feel thanks to the 14-foot ceilings and the skylight above.
Higgins designed baths for both spaces with a deft use of glass and natural stone that mimics the color and gleam of the concrete floors that run throughout. Her thoughtful consideration of storage and closet space ensures that the Hunts’ current needs are met, as are those of any future owners who might make the loft their full-time residence.
The renovation took about a year, and Hunt warns, “It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s like running a business. You have to manage people, say no, stay focused.” Still, he has no regrets. “I wouldn’t change a thing. If you went back to my original pictures, you’d see that this is exactly what I had in mind.”
Studio Dan Meiners
Kitchen, Bath, Interior Finishes
Portfolio Kitchen & Home