Not all new homes are created equal. Most are built using cookie-cutter designs and builder-grade materials. Then there are those that feature sophisticated architectural details and custom flourishes that make their residents feel like they’re on a perpetual vacation.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City is offering a chance to see such high-end homes with its first Artisan Home Tour, running through Sept. 20 in neighborhoods across the metro.
Chris Ragland of Homes by Chris recently built a home with a mustard-yellow door, barrel ceiling, herringbone-patterned parquet wood floor and cluster of three light fixtures – and that’s just in the entryway.
“You need to have a great ‘oooh-ah!’ moment when you walk into a house,” she said. “Having a surprise when you walk in makes a home happy and unique.”
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A lot of the homes have resort-like components. As builder Patrick Willis of Willis Construction said: “You have to make it feel like (buyers) are on vacation in their own home.”
Willis said the great room of his Village of Loch Lloyd home feels like a cushy hotel lobby, complete with a limestone fireplace, large chandelier, beamed wood ceiling and bank of floor-to-ceiling windows that look out into the woods.
“It feels like you’re in a Rocky Mountain ski lodge,” he said. “Since the house is set on this beautiful wooded lot, we have a lot of focus on bringing the outdoors in, but there are cosmopolitan features along with the rustic features.”
On the back of the Willis home, there are two 16-foot removable glass doors. When they’re gone, the home opens to an outdoor area with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace.
Other resort-like features on the tour include a two-story, indoor water fall in the home by Casa Bella Construction and a floating fire pit set on a pool of water by Don Julian Builders.
Homes built for entertaining
The homes of the Artisan Home Tour have largely open floor plans, which means that the flexible living spaces are perfect for groups.
“High-end buyers expect an open floor plan with room for entertaining,” Willis said.
Many of the homes on the tour feature large great rooms, open to kitchens built for entertaining. But there are also additional spaces for friends and family to gather.
The Willis Construction home features a bar, wine room, home theater and billiard room in the basement, in addition to the large great room on the first floor. There is a butler’s kitchen off the main kitchen, perfect for prep work prior to a dinner party.
Craig Eymann of Ambassador Construction Homes said the company’s home features a large covered patio space with built-in grills, fire features and TVs. The master bedroom, great room and dining room all open to this area, he said.
“It became a main part of the house,” he said. “It extends the idea of an open floor plan and (the patio) becomes another living area.”
Ragland’s home has a similar outdoor living area, but as a screened deck.
“When you put a screen on that deck, it lengthens the time that you can use that (space) throughout the year,” Ragland said, noting that opening the living room doors to the deck doubles the square footage of the living room.
Touring artisan homes is nothing if not fun thanks to surprise elements: a hidden doorway to the suspended garage in the basement of Ragland’s home, a Japanese garden visible from the lower level at the Ambassador home and a “celebrity” master closet in the Patrick Willis Home.
Of course, these features don’t come cheap as the homes on this tour range in price from $925,000 to $1.6 million.
What’s old is new again
The homes on the tour showcase the latest trends in homebuilding, which include some design throwbacks.
Ragland added a splash of ’50s design to her home’s laundry room.
“You see a lot of midcentury designs going on, so we did a touch of that in this house,” she said.
The laundry room has Formica countertops with a silver edge, turquoise walls and cabinets and funky turquoise light fixtures.
The Ambassador Construction home also has 20th century touches. None of the woodwork in the home is painted, reminiscent of turn-of-the-century homes.
“Years and years ago, we used to just stain all of the woodwork and lacquer it,” Eymann said. “We’ve gotten to the point where people pretty much paint everything.”
The Ambassador home features many types of exotic wood, like African mahogany and rosewood, zebrawood, ipe, acacia and white oak. All of it is simply lacquered to let the natural beauty take center stage.
“We’re trying to do what we call timeless design,” Eymann said. “In 30 years, it (won’t be) dated. You won’t be able to say, ‘Oh, that was built in 2015.’”
To explore all 10 homes of the Artisan Home Tour, visit ArtisanHome.KCHBA.org.