Modern, designed

A soothing, warm contemporary interior provides a sleek background for the homeowners’ art collection

There’s a surprise the minute you walk into this pale stucco Hallbrook home. The classic exterior conceals a modern interior that highlights the work of new and emerging local artists.

“The minute I walked in this house, I knew it was the house,” says the homeowner, who works closely with the board of directors at the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art. “I love two-story houses, and this one has openness yet intimacy. The ceilings are high, but the rooms aren’t too big. It has a light, airy feel. Ten years later, my husband, who is a stockbroker, still says, ‘This was one of the best decisions we ever made.’”

Every year, the homeowners try to do some kind of interior refurbishing with Ben Sundermeier as their guide. “You can stay on top of things that way,” the homeowner says. “Keep things fresh.”

“This house is a different kind of modern,” agrees Sundermeier, the designer who has worked with the couple for the past ten years. “The shapes and colors of the furniture evoke modern, but it’s more forgiving. It’s not severe and austere. The surfaces are easier to take care of, and the seating is softer.”

“My idea of modern,” the homeowner adds, “is good design— anything with clean lines. Simplicity. Less is more. Rooms that work with the way you want to live. Ben is fabulous for making all those things happen.”

“The art,” she emphasizes, “is also what does it for me. It’s what makes this house very personal to us. And we never get bored with it. Every piece changes as you look at it, depending on the time of day, on the light. And when I move a piece to another room, the whole room looks different.”

The couple love to collect the works of local artists, which they often buy at the UrbanSurburban art auction every fall at the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art. They’ve also found pieces at the Plaza Art Fair.

The art keeps a colorful current of light and form pulsing through every room of the house.

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In the living room, two Philippe Starck sofas and a pair of Le Corbusier club chairs in dark chocolate parachute fabric delineate the seating area. Two floor lamps on wood and metal tripods frame the large window.

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But all eyes are on the art. Behind the club chairs, a striking canvas of stripes by Daniel Lough in his Reverberation series faces the fireplace, where a multi-patterned painting by local artist Max Key takes its own pride of place, especially since the homeowners bought the piece at Key’s studio. Below it, on the hearth, a grouping of ceramic dogs by Calder Kamin gives the family cat a run for her money.

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The adjacent music room, with its cozy arrangement of four plum leather chairs from Museo, is where the stockbroker husband loves to listen to Mahler or Tchaikovsky after a hard day tracking the stock market.

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In the dining room, modern goes subdued with taupe and plum wallpaper and a brilliant white Corian tabletop atop a massive base. A spotlight table lamp from Museo amps up the glam.

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Upstairs, the master bedroom is a haven of calm. The homeowner turned two Jonathan Adler vases into lamps that are placed on either side of the upholstered bed. A pair of comfy club chairs at the foot of the bed face the wall-mounted television.

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The same soothing, creamy taupe is used in the master bath, which has heated floors and a window seat. It’s the favorite spot of the lady of the house.

“I love to sit up here and drink my tea and look out at the trees,” she says.

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Everything about it is calming—the rich-looking metal drawer pulls and towel bars, the large tile with just a hint of texture, the Silestone countertops and ample storage to hide the usual getting-ready clutter.

“This room is just good for your psyche,” she says.

In the upstairs hallway, an intriguing work by Jorge Garcia Almodovar consists of several vertical wooden bars in a parallel formation, their sides painted different colors.

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“This piece really changes as you look at it from different angles,” says the homeowner. And so does the Bozart Kaleidoscope dollhouse designed in 2001, now a collector’s item.

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The ultra-modern design and colorful plastic panels also change with the light. “It’s a piece of art, too,” she says.

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