The last time I saw Andrea Darr, freelancer for House + Home, I was backing my car out of her driveway as she was walking in her yard surrounded by 17 colorful chickens.
She, photographer Roy Inman and I had just finished shooting our recent cover story on decorating for a Royals Fourth of July party. Roy, an inveterate architecture buff, was struck by the harmonious repetition of three arched doorways in Andrea’s farmhouse near the Kansas Speedway. He began snapping images.
Andrea’s house looks as if it popped off the pages of Country Living magazine, and it’s really no wonder: She is former editor of KC Homes & Gardens, and her husband, Michael Gekas, is an architect and virtual construction manager with McCownGordon. The couple bought the 1922 home 10 years ago and spent a year gutting and remodeling it before moving in.
The home’s interior feels warm despite its cool blue and green palette. It’s cozy yet sophisticated and gets the most wonderful daylight through its front living room windows.
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Andrea and Mike’s goal was to create a contemporary farmhouse by mixing modern materials with reclaimed wood.
“We have antiques — for instance, a secretary and a lawyers’ bookcase in here — but we also have very clean-lined couches and tables,” she says.
Andrea and Mike are on to a local trend when it comes to farmhouse style. According to a recent study by Dot & Bo, a guided shopping service for your home, Kansas City’s signature home decor style is farmhouse.
The survey examined more than 100,000 customer orders in 15 U.S. cities to find each one’s preferred aesthetic. Other signature styles included shabby chic for Atlanta, midcentury organic for San Francisco, Scandinavian for (where else?) Minneapolis and Southwest bohemian for Phoenix.
Several cities prefer various twists on industrial decor, including Chicago (contemporary industrial), Dallas (industrial Southwest) and Seattle (industrial rustic).
In Andrea and Mike’s kitchen, they used Ikea cabinets with a simple classic front and streamlined metal pulls that match stainless steel appliances. A chipped vintage “Please serve yourself” sign hangs above a farmhouse sink, and shelves created from salvaged wood sit atop brackets from Anthropologie.
The home is on 18 acres and contains a barn, shed and another home with a nearly identical floor plan to the couple’s home that they are rehabbing into a bed-and-breakfast. Andrea has planted a half acre garden with tomatoes, peppers, squash, cabbage, turnips, beets, kohlrabi and potatoes. She has also planted vegetables such as cucumbers, yum yum peppers and cherry tomatoes into the landscape surrounding her home so her daughters, Sophia, 4, and Tessa, 1, can pluck and eat them right off the plant.
As for the chickens, they have Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Orpingtons and Americaunas.
“We have them for the organic eggs, and we sell some at the surplus (market),” Andrea says. “But it’s also a lifestyle choice. Our kids love to feed them and watch them run around. We call it chicken TV. We’d rather watch them than TV.”
The farmhouse lifestyle is relatively new to Andrea and Mike.
“I grew up in Johnson County,” she says. “It evolved. We wanted something different, a home we could create for ourselves, and that meant buying something a little run down that needed some love that we could make into our own. Because it was small and open we wanted it to have simple lines so it wouldn’t feel cluttered or boxy.
“We also wanted to keep the essence of the farmhouse intact and stay true to its character, but it has to live the way we live now,” she says.