Location: West Plaza, Kansas City
Details: 2,400 square feet including a finished basement; a common area that includes kitchen, dining room and living room; 3 bedrooms; dressing room; 3.5 bathrooms; TV room; sitting room; office
The owners: Karen Garrett and Kevin Hennessy
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Builder: Materia Design Group
Architectural details: Garrett was tired of commuting from Olathe. And because their youngest child was about to head to college, leaving them empty-nesters, they figured it was time to think about moving.
They considered several neighborhoods and living options: West Shawnee, Brookside, all the lakes, condominiums, apartments, “everything,” says Hennessy. Then they spotted the West Plaza lot with a little old empty house sitting on it.
“We kept thinking about being able to walk to the things we like to do,” Garrett says. “We thought about buying an older house and renovating it, but Kevin is 6-foot-5 and he wouldn’t fit in those old basements.”
They eventually decided on the West Plaza lot, thinking they could fix up the old house. But it was in such disrepair that even Habitat for Humanity’s Restore couldn’t salvage anything from it. So they knocked it down and called several architects, including Dominique Davison, founder of DRAW Architecture + Urban Design.
They were getting ready to sign a contract with someone else when Davison called and asked for another chance to come up with a design that better fit their budget.
Garrett and Hennessy wanted something that would accommodate their lifestyle, which includes four children and five grandchildren. Some of them live out of town and come to visit, so they needed guest bedrooms for adults and children.
“We wanted a place where everyone could gather but that still lives comfortably for just two people,” she says. “We only lived in about 10 percent of our previous home. We didn’t want that. We use every inch of this house all the time. And there are no halls in the house to eat up space.”
They also worked with interior designers to decorate the space.
The main floor has one large space containing the living room, dining room and kitchen; as well as a master suite with a small bedroom, a large walk-in closet and a bathroom that has a walk-in shower; and closets for a toilet and stackable washer-dryer set.
Garrett points out that their kitchen is more traditional than those in most modern homes, because it has cabinets on four sides rather than just one.
The kitchen cabinets are light beechwood with an espresso trim. The counters are brown-speckled quartz and the backsplash is constructed from glass tiles in various shades of silver.
Their original intent was to build something that would allow them to age in place. But, they admit, this is not that place, because it has lots of stairs.
“The cool thing about the West Plaza is it’s everybody,” Karen says. “All kinds of people live here. There are great little cottages and bungalows that have been maintained and I hope they stay. But there are also houses like the one we knocked down.”
Another advantage of their new home, she says, is its proximity to people and things that are important to them. They can walk to restaurants and shops.
“And no one ever came to our house in Olathe because it was too far away,” Karen says. “We entertain here all the time, because it’s easy to get to. And we did solve my commute problem. It now takes me 12 minutes to get to work.”