A home ready for its closeup

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Despite needing a heavy dose of TLC, a revived loft in the Crossroads Arts District now echoes the artistic flair of its surroundings.

Transcript of A home ready for its closeup


    Home_KCM Aug11_QF.indd 68 7/7/11 5:13:53 PM

  • home

    Before the Crossroads Arts District became famous for its galleries

    and shops, it was known as Film Row, home to the Midwest offices of

    MGM, Warner Brothers, Disney and 20th Century Fox. When Stephen

    and Sarah Hopkins purchased a loft there in 2005, they knew their

    own productioncreating a home from a warm shellwould

    require a cast of strong supporting artisans and craftsmen.

    Though ready for improvements, the loft was not ready for occupancy. There were four

    wallsone with a giant hole in itand an HVAC unit hanging from the ceiling. The

    appeal was that it wasnt a cookie-cutter loft, and the Hopkins family could customize the

    space however they wanted, which is exactly what they did.

    While waiting for the loft build-out, the couple spent eight months in an apartment

    on Metcalf and I-435, which although temporary, left quite an impression. Vestiges of

    this are a collection of six photographs taken by the couple as a way to document their

    time, most of it spent in the car surrounded by other weary commuters, semi trucks,

    traffic signs and concrete.

    Now Stephen and Sarah find themselves surrounded by a feeling of community, coffee

    houses, a wine merchant, a green buildings material showroom and the reason the

    condiment shelf in the fridge sees the most use: great neighborhood eateries, including

    Los Tules, Extra Virgin and YJs Snack Bar.

    This may explain why after five years, the kitchen bar is still in nearly pristine condition

    (next spread, left). Truly the epicenter of the space, it also serves as the backsplash for the

    stainless kitchen countertops. Designed and built by local furniture designer Joe Munson,

    this heavy hitter, both in looks and weight (1,000 pounds, requiring 16 people to move

    it), has thoughtful details like a built-in flower vase and seamless 1-inch square outlets

    with 1 1/4-inch square pushbutton clear bezel switches from Switzerland. The bar is

    composed of more than a dozen different components, including a custom-designed icon

    insert featuring a blade graphic for the disposal and a light bulb graphic for the lamps.

    The 1/8-inch diameter, micro-florescent lamps found at the front of the bar are the kind

    used to illuminate LCD screens in laptops. Though fragile, they have incredible endurance,

    and, says Munson, [they] should last 50 years [when] turned on 14 hours a week. Only

    one has needed replacement in five years. But Munsons design, incorporating spring-loaded

    receptacles for the lamps, will make even that rare task easy. Thats what Im most

    proud of, he admits. Taking something cool and making it practical.

    When the lights are not in use, natural light pours in through three large windows

    (left)the center one rumored to be the loading area for the horses from bygone


    local resources JOe MUNSON & ASSOCIAteS, LUCID ARtSstory by KeRRY PItt-HARtphotos by BOB GReeNSPAN

    ready for its closeup

    69Lifes better in KC

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  • Film Row days. Left bare since the couple took possession, it wasnt

    until this year that the windows became covered in Munsons invention,

    the Integrated Bottom Up Shade. The fabric is a washable solar

    shade that comes in dozens of colors. The shades pice de rsistance

    is the clever mechanical apparatus concealed within the custom frame,

    which employs a counterweight making it a breeze to raise the shade

    up or down.

    Munsons work can also be seen in two large-scale sliding doors

    (above left). Approximately 8 square feet, they are composed of

    three separate panels crowned with laminated inkjet prints designed

    by Daniel Bartle of Lucid Arts. Stephens interest in maps prompted

    Bartle to use an enlarged map of Kansas City from 1907 to form

    the background for clouds and a flock of birds. A star marking

    You Are Here at their address, as well as a photo of graffiti

    captured just around the corner, accurately place the viewer in the

    midst of the depicted surroundings.

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  • The biggest challenge has been to create an open space that is livable, Sarah says. In

    order to maintain the integrity of the space, much of the furniture from their former Mission

    home was donated because it had no presence in the new space. Now much of the furniture

    and accessories are from Design Within Reach, Black Bamboo and Crate and Barrel.

    Inherited pieces like a pair of chairs that belonged to Stephens grandmother and

    artwork from the mother of one of Sarahs childhood friends accompany the new additions.

    Another standout is Munsons coffee table design, incorporating a powder-coated V8 engine

    block under glass (first spread).

    Above the dining room table hangs a stunning Cellula Swarovski crystal chandelier

    designed by Carbone and Vudafieri (previous spread, left). The contrast between the

    traditionally cut crystals with the polished aluminum base and the nearby lamps fronting

    the modern metal bar is a testament to the owners visual acuity. This harmony by contrasts

    is further echoed in the shape and design of the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs. Here, the

    curve from seat to back is gradual and sculpted to fit the body while the top of the bar

    reveals more of an abrupt right angle.

    The Hopkins/Munson collaboration reminds this writer of the relationship American

    art collector Peggy Guggenheim had with the painter Jackson Pollock. With no strings as

    to what or how I paint it, is how Pollock described the commission he received to create

    a mural for the entry to Guggenheims townhouse.

    Of the Hopkins couple, Munson relates, They generally like my ideas and usually let me

    just run with them. They have sort of come to represent me maturing as a designer and

    fabricator, and I am very proud of our relationship and the work that is a product of that.

    This relationship will continue with the couples future plans for a kitchen remodel. n

    73Lifes better in KC

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