Contemporary kitchens: This updated Kansas City kitchen is bright, open and cheerful

The kitchen in Susie and Bill Luenings’ Kansas City home was always filled with natural light from windows and a skylight. But it wasn’t always so well-connected to surrounding spaces.

The previous owners of the house near Ward Parkway had built the family room as an addition in place of a screened-in porch more than 20 years ago.

“It had all been updated, but I wanted it to feel more open,” Susie says.

She grew weary of the separation between the kitchen and family room, two regularly used spaces she envisioned as one.

There was a reason for the restricted flow. At the time of the addition, builders made the exterior brick wall an interior wall. The Luenings wanted that former exterior wall, which was now dividing the two rooms, removed.

So they contacted the previous owners’ design firm, RDM Architecture, for the original plans to see how they could alter the load-bearing wall.

Architect Matthew Lero helped them acquire the drawings — and then he helped the Luenings redesign the kitchen.

Matthew hired a structural engineer to install a support beam, and replaced the brick wall with a peninsula island, opening the kitchen to the family room.

Matthew also removed a couple of columns in the corridor.

“Taking them out gave us a lot more kitchen space to work with and lets the house flow together between the two rooms,” he explains.

Losing wall space meant Matthew had to tweak the kitchen’s floor plan, but it remained mostly familiar.

“The sink wanted to be right where the skylight was,” he notes.

And the cabinets remained white, although updated with crisper, clean-lined Shaker fronts.

Matthew accounted for storage by stealing space from a large laundry room and installing full-height cabinetry. To keep the space from feeling overwhelmed by blocks of cabinets, he inserted glass fronts and lighting for openly displaying Susie’s decorative dishes and glassware.

Where there once was a window overlooking the patio, Matthew installed French doors for symmetry and easy access to the garden.

Design details cue a coastal vibe. Kohler’s apron-front Whitehaven Hayridge sink features horizontal lines that mimic sand patterns on the shore, while wavy, iridescent backsplash tiles bring in the color of the ocean. Two paintings by family friend Michael Rippey — a large one facing the family room and a smaller one above the sink — depict boats on the water.

“I grew up on Long Island,” Susie says. “I have that in me.”

The couple still summers in Maine, but Susie is always eager to get back to cook on her white Bertazonni gas range.


Architecture and design: RDM Architecture

Contractor: Mark Giroux

Cabinets: Shikles Cabinets