Cydney Millstein is Kansas Citys go-to source when it comes to historic buildings and issues of architectural preservation. But her own house, a contemporary ranch built by architect Kirk Gastinger on the citys West Side, is brand new. Sixteen months ago Millstein moved in with her Airedale, Chi Chi, a 14-year-old Westminster champion that she rescued.
By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star
How did you end up in this area?
A decade ago, I did a project about Kansas Citys historic West Side and thought, Maybe I could build a little house here. I began looking for vacant lots and found a pair of them at 15th and Belleview.
You seem very happy here.
Its really changed my life. Having grown up in a ranch house, this suits me. Its 2,000 square feet with a full basement. The gate across the front makes it very private. I enjoy the skylights, and I have solar and European-style door-windows that open onto the front courtyard.
The bedroom has northern light, so I come out of my cave in the morning into bright light. Theres so much southern exposure, and the views are wonderful.
Who designed it?
My brother David Millstein spent seven hours on the footprint. Its based on the golden mean, a ratio that is very pleasing to the Western eye. Kirk Gastinger provided the conceptual drawings, and Franken-Polli built the house.
Its very organic, with no wasted space. The living room and kitchen are the same size; because of the slope of land, theres a difference in elevation between the rooms. Each space has two steps.
Tell me about the way youve furnished the living room.
Its all things Ive accumulated. That Mitchell Gold couch can sleep two foot to foot or head to head. Its about 12 feet long. The artwork above it is by Allan McCollum. We worked together on a project at Grand Arts. The shapes are the counties that border the state line. The top is Missouri and the bottom is Kansas. As you go south they look like those black square abstractions by (early Russian modernist) Kasimir Malevich.
It all feels very unified.
The living room has a poured concrete floor; the floors in the rest of the rooms are grade B maple. I didnt want monochromatic; I wanted life and character.
All of the cabinetry was made by David Polivka. Its all hickory, and each room has different layers of stain. In the living room, two layers give it a bronzy, ashen cast. In the kitchen, theres one layer, and it brings out the green of the hickory. In the utility room at the back, we just used naked hickory, and David was very attentive to the grain in the pieces he used.
You have a mantel but no fireplace.
The mantel is St. Marys limestone from St. Marys, Kansas. I love the idea of fire and the process of getting wood and bringing it into the house, so Ive paired it with a wood-burning stove. Its so efficient that the heat doesnt come on, and it has a little soapstone shelf where I can reheat food. It takes the place of a TV in this room. I put herb stems in and it scents the whole house.
Your TV room is quite a surprise everything is much softer.
Ive had the rattan furniture with the floral cushions for a long time. Later I got the Heywood Wakefield coffee table to go with them. I found the poufs at gilt.com. Theyre Moroccan hand-stitched leather. The abstraction above the couch is by Charles Sloan, and I have another abstraction in this room by Glenn Goldberg. The print above the red Eames chair by the window is by Akio Takamori.
Tell me about some of the items in the guest room.
Thats an Afghan kilim on the floor, and the table is the top of an old English trunk from the early 1800s mounted on a stand made by Polivka. I got the lamp from gilt.com. The shade is cork with mica. Its so midcentury modern.
Thats a Design Within Reach Flight Chair. I was in Design Within Reach in Minnesota and sat on it, and it was so comfortable I bought it off the floor. My dad owned an Army surplus store and sold used airline seats, and through the years I had the experience of sitting on many different styles of airline seats.
The desk is by Lawrence furniture maker Will Orvedal. Theres no metal in it. Half of the furniture in my house is handmade. Theres a handmade cherry nightstand in the bedroom, and Polivka made the walnut bed. I love natural wood. I love polishing furniture.
Id say the bathroom is the piece de resistance.
I put in a steam shower, and that diamond shaped tile in the center of the wall is my drishti (yoga gazing point). The corner cabinet in the bathroom is the first piece of furniture I bought as an adult. Its a china cabinet sized for the Brookside house where I lived for eight years.
For the past four years, Millstein has been researching Kansas Citys old Pratt & Whitney plant in what is now the Bannister Federal Complex. Her findings and large photographs of the plant then and now are on view in the exhibit Velocity of Change: The Evolution of Albert Kahns Pratt & Whitney Plant in Kansas City at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut St. The show continues through May 3. For more information, call 816-474-3250 or go to BelgerArtsCenter.org.