Kim McGrath loves Kansas City. She loves its history, art and the historic buildings downtown.
When she purchased a building to create her home, it was in an industrial corner of the Crossroads Arts District. Directly across from the large front windows was a hill paved in asphalt to accommodate a billboard.
The front door of the home and her main living room were going to be just five feet from the street, so creating privacy and an intimate space was a challenge. Enter Dominique Davison of DRAW Architecture.
“It wasn’t a very attractive view,” Davison says. “We decided to create our own view by commissioning artist Jesse Small.”
Small’s metal sculpture has the practical effect of providing privacy and security. It also creates a kind of dappled light experience in the living room and eliminates the needs for interior window treatments.
“The different light it brings into the home is extremely unique,” McGrath says. “It’s a completely different element when you are on the inside of the property. The art changes the light in the space every single day. It gives a really organic feel.”
Inside, Davison left the spackled bricks exposed and added barn wood wraps over ductwork and wiring. The tongue and groove ceiling gives a nod to the historic nature of the building, while a steel surround with a barn wood mantle lends a modern look to the fireplace.
One of McGrath’s favorite parts of the living room is the exposed brick. Davison says exposing the brick was an homage to McGrath’s love of Kansas City art.
“It’s old brick that’s locally sourced and fired. I loved that idea of taking local Kansas City artists and displaying them on a local architectural wall that is very much a part of the Kansas City vernacular,” Davison says. “It feels authentic.”
Why it works
1. Cow skin rug: The cow skin rug is McGrath’s way of taking art to the floor. It is a personal nod to Kansas City’s stockyard history. It is also very practical. “It’s extremely forgiving to pets and grandchildren,” McGrath says. “There’s very little maintenance — it is extremely easy to care for.”
2. Acrylic table lamp: The clear acrylic lamp reflects the colors in the space. McGrath loves the way the brick wall shows through.
3. Exposed brick: Both the color and the texture of the brick — as well as stone walls in the basement — add an interesting architectural element to the space that speaks to the history of the building.
4. Open shelving: Open shelving by the door provides a space to display artwork or to use for practical purposes, such as storing keys.
Get the look
1. Rensen House of Lights in Lenexa sells Balustrade table lamps by Visual Comfort. The clear acrylic look is perfect for McGrath’s living room.
2. Restoration Emporium carries gray Brazilian cow hides in both their Country Club Plaza and Crossroads Arts District locations. The hides can be hung on the wall or used on the floor.
3. The Barnwood Farm in the Crossroads Arts District sells reclaimed barn wood. They can do architectural features, like what is seen in the McGrath living room and flooring.
4. Seville Home in Leawood sells modern etagere shelving like the Whalen model by Bernhardt Interiors that are practical and modern, but do not overshadow the wall space.
5. Sculptor Jesse Small created the large art piece for the front of McGrath’s home. Small, a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, designs other types of work for the home including chandeliers and screens (jessesmall.com).