Location: Westwood Park (West Plaza), Kansas City
Details: 2,000 square feet including an open common space with a living room, dining area and kitchen; 2 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; media room; and garage art studio. The basement is unfinished.
Current owner: Judy Joss
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Architectural details: Judy Joss was living in a two-story Brookside home and had had a couple of back and knee surgeries when she realized that she was going to need a first-floor bedroom at some point. So she looked for homes around her neighborhood but couldn’t find one she liked.
“Then my friend Joan Gastinger asked if I’d consider building. At first, I said no because I’m 65,” Joss says. “Why would I build? But then I realized it was going to take a lot to change a Brookside home.”
So she bought a lot just down the street from her friend Joan, who also happens to be married to Kirk Gastinger, of the architecture firm GastingerWalker&.
There was a home on the lot, but no one knew how to save it. So Joss tore it down and GastingerWalker& started drawing up plans.
“I told them the most important thing to me is natural light. I want windows; I want glass,” Joss says. “He asked if I would be interested in contemporary. My parents had built a mid-century home (designed by Kiene & Bradley) in Topeka in the ’50s. It got a lot of attention, including the press. So I said I would feel right at home with that.”
Her second request was that the home be energy efficient. It has geothermal heating and cooling, 41 solar panels and triple-pane windows. She racks up energy credits in the summer and her winter power bills are $30 a month.
Kirk Gastinger went to her home in Brookside to see how she lives.
She likes to do her own yard work and cleaning, so she didn’t want anything huge. Plus she has four grown kids, three of whom live in Kansas City.
“It wasn’t going to be a place where they would come home to camp out for a week,” she says. “Only one lives out of town and comes to stay.”
When she entertained guests in Brookside, she told Gastinger, everyone would be in the living room and she’d be in the kitchen where she couldn’t see or hear anything.
“So Kirk said, ‘That’s easy. We’ll make one big room,’” she says.
The detached garage has space for one car and contains a cozy studio, where Joss can quilt and do art projects.
“I always had a project going on. And someone would come over, and I’d have to scramble to put it all away,” she says. Now she doesn’t.
From the exterior, the home is contemporary yet warm and colorful, with siding on the second floor painted marigold and dark red window trim. There are five different roofs — all angled in different directions — and glass and metal garage doors.
The inside is all white walls, yet manages to feel warm thanks to wooden beams on the kitchen ceiling and Joss’ furniture and accessories, much of which she had to buy when the house was finished.
“I had this crazy idea that I could bring my traditional furniture into this contemporary house, but it just didn’t work,” she says.
There’s also a two-story bookshelf that is see-through in sections and part of a stairway that rises from the living room on the first floor to a media area on the second floor.
“If there was anything that was a booger to build, it was this,” says Joss, pointing at it and noting how conscientious John Franken and Steve Polli, the builders, were.
“(The firm) was on site every day,” she says.