Location: Weatherby Lake, North Kansas City
Details: 3,200 square feet with basement, common area that includes kitchen, dining room and living room, 3 bedrooms, dressing room, 3.5 bathrooms, TV room, office, play area
The owners: Austin and Leslie Walsh
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Builder: Homoly Signature Homes
Architectural details: When Austin and Leslie Walsh met with Kem Studio to discuss designing their lakefront home, two words summed up what they wanted from architects Brad Satterwhite and Jonathon Kemnitzer: modern lodge.
The home had to be able to withstand the rigors of entertaining lots of wet people running in and out while combining warmth and rustic with clean lines.
“All we wanted was to be on the lakeside,” says Austin, owner of a commercial photography and video production company in Kansas City. “And lake living is people coming through here in bathing suits with towels and beer coolers.”
What they got was a home with lots of cypress, sleek dark metal and a 20-foot glass wall with sliding doors that offers killer views of Weatherby Lake.
From the outside, the lodge looks like a giant cypress box swallowing a smaller white stucco box. The cypress box contains public areas, while the white box contains private areas.
The Walshes broke ground in June 2014 and moved in last summer. Since then, it’s become the go-to place for family and friends on weekends and holidays. Go ahead and slide those beer coolers down the hall from the front door to the back door — the polished concrete floors can take it. Don’t worry about putting that drippy bottle of red wine on the kitchen counters — they’re Caesarstone and it’s durable.
“Nothing is too precious,” says Leslie.
“If anything spills, it’s fine,” Austin adds.
Before putting pen to drawing board, Satterwhite hung out at the Walshes’ previous home to see how they live.
“He asked us things like ‘How do you live in the morning? Do you get up and take a shower or go get coffee first?’”
The result of that particular question was a small bench in the bedroom where Austin sits to tie his shoes in the morning.
Designing the Modern Lodge was not without challenges. For one thing, the site was sloped toward the lake and chock full of limestone.
“We had to design the house to minimize the foundation system and not have an exorbitant cost that you won’t get back at end of the day,” says Satterwhite.
Weekly meetings at the home were required during construction to make sure no detail went overlooked.
“This is a custom modern home and even though there’s more modern architecture being built in Kansas City today, it’s still an anomaly,” Satterwhite says. “Most contractors are used to doing things in a traditional way. Or they may not understand that things are in certain places in modern design to set up certain experiences and that you can’t deviate from that without changing the experience.
“Once you explain the intent,” he adds, “the fabricators and builders have a greater understanding of why things are done a certain way and take ownership of those details and know that every line and every detail is intentional.”
Satterwhite, Kemnitzer and the Walshes also spent a lot of time discussing the position of the home on the lot.
The Walshes weren’t initially sold on the idea of diagonally orienting the home when Kem Studios pitched it. They wanted it to sit square with the cove and boat docks below.
So Kem presented aerial views of the lot to the Walshes and placed flags where the perimeter of the home would be so they could get a clearer vision of what they would be looking at.
Once the lot was cleared of some of its trees and construction began, the Walshes were awe-struck: the giant back windows would provide a straight-line view of the main lake opening up off the cove.
Leslie was so distracted by the view of the lake the first morning she woke up in the house that she put salt, rather than sugar, in her coffee.