In two stately Kansas City homes, the third story has been converted to a grand guest suite
The third floor of this Country Club District prairie-style home owned by Susan and Charles Porter has lived many lives. “When we bought the house, it was all avocado shag carpet, blacklight posters and a mattress in one corner,” says Susan Porter with a laugh. It morphed into daughter Monica’s teenage bedroom, and when Monica left for college, Porter thought it was time to turn it into a proper guest suite. A call to interior designer Jan Kyle got the project started. At that time, Monica was studying for her master’s degree in architecture at the University of Kansas, so Susan tasked her with the assist. “I put Monica in charge because I was working,” says Porter, an anesthesiologist.
“We wanted to create an inviting, casual retreat,” Kyle says. “Natural is the perfect word to describe the space.” While Monica sourced vintage finds, Kyle assembled a mix of fabrics and materials that reflected the greenery visible out the windows. “I designed the custom upholstered headboard in that chartreuse green,” Kyle says, “then selected a vintage-look relaxed floral that was pretty, without being too sweet, for the pillows and the shades above the window seat.” She designed the renovated bath “to create a spa-like atmosphere” around a vintage sideboard that Monica had found and repurposed as a vanity.
When the project was finished, the teenager’s bedroom became a relaxed, restful getaway. Now Monica and her husband use the room when they’re in town from Denver, where Monica works at the Beck Group architectural firm. “It’s nice because it’s private,” Porter says. “You can shut the door and it’s like a world apart.Interior designer Jan Kyle found the vintage sunburst mirror in a Palm Beach, Florida, antique store. She designed the floating nightstands “for a more open feeling in the room.” The Porters already owned the antique Asian piece that perches at the end of the bed. Kyle had a pair of armchairs reupholstered in a comfy cotton velvet. The door-cum-mirror, with a fresh coat of paint, is leftover from Monica’s teenage room. Besides being a renowned cardiac surgeon, Charles Porter is a talented photographer. “It was Jan’s idea to do the gallery wall of Charlie’s photos,” Susan Porter says. Kyle had the television recessed into the wall above the sawhorse desk, which does double-duty as a bar. A clawfoot tub and a walk-in shower (not pictured) are tucked under the eaves in the third-floor guest bath.
River Market Antiques
Jan Kyle Design
Charles Porter Photography
“It was the last project he did for us,” says homeowner Nicola Heskett of the third-floor guest suite designed by the late, much beloved, designer Benjamin Sundermeier. Heskett and her husband, Walt Cofer, had worked with Sundermeier on various projects over 10 years, many of which have been featured in this magazine. “Ben didn’t like to do everything at once,” Heskett says. “He liked to do what he called ‘mini victories.’”
The level of trust the couple had built with the designer over the years paid off. “We really just kind of turned it over to him,” Heskett says. Some of his concepts surprised them but delighted them too. He turned the U-shaped kitchen into a galley kitchen so he could add the textured, recycled glass at one end, allowing light through to the bedroom and vice versa. “It casts a warm glow across the whole sitting room,” Heskett says.
The walls, which had previously been painted what Heskett calls “Chiefs colors,” were painted a soft putty color that doesn’t overtly call attention to all the quirks and angles of the walls and ceilings. “Ben had described his concept as using cognac, honey, syrup colors, making the whole space relaxing and light,” she says.
Ben specified a soft, tonal carpet to be added to the bedroom, which had previously been hardwood. It cushions any sounds guests might make padding around the room. Lined curtains, rather than doors, separate the bedroom from the living area and the bath from the bedrooom. “They can be pulled to if need be,” Heskett says, “But usually guests have the whole floor to themselves. It’s such a comfortable space because you have everything you need.”“Walt and I found the Danish armchairs at a vintage furniture store in California, and Ben incorporated them into the overall design,” she says. Sundermeier found the comfy leather chair with the gilded cross at Anthropologie. He added a hidden backlight to the simple Ikea bed “which elevated it from Ikea to a Ben Sundermeier-approved design,” Heskett says. There’s a subtle circle and square motif going on in the space, from the rug and the curtains right down to the hefty circular reclaimed wood coffee table. A stocked refrigerator and a coffee maker mean early-risers can plan their morning without troubling the homeowners. Sundermeier placed the master bathroom vanity in front of a window for maximum light.
Bobo Intriguing Objects
Profile Cabinet and Design
Eddie Cummings Tile Co.