A Mission Hills home blends high-tech function and contemporary fashion
Fine watches, like couture, speak of taste, high performance and sophisticated movements—all while performing their basic functions. A jewelry business exec and a fashionisto bring these same sensibilities to their Mission Hills home.
Ray Stuart and Luis Taveras met at Bloomingdale’s in New York City several years ago. When they relocated to Kansas City last year, they “must have looked at 100 houses,” says Stuart, chief merchandising officer at Helzberg Diamonds. But when they saw this one, “it instantly clicked,” adds Taveras, fashion coach and stylist.
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In remodeling the house, Stuart was all about the space itself— how they wanted to live and how to make each area go from formal to casual, with precision. “I drew out floor plans and rooms,” he says. “When we met with Greg Rothers, he said ‘Geez, you’ve done my job!’”
When it came to “dressing” the house, it was Taveras’ turn. “We wanted clean, contemporary and soothing with grays, black, whites, and creams,” he says. “And then adding little, controlled flourishes. My wardrobe is like that, too.”
The two also had to meld Stuart’s “more, more, more” choices with Taveras’ desire for “let’s decide now.”
The first big change was the kitchen. From a traditional room that didn’t take advantage of the view, it’s now one big space with a wall of French doors out to the garden. High vaulted ceilings hung with a pair of Casa 12-light chandeliers by Forecast add sparkle at night.
The fireplace and oven wall of stacked stone in a shimmering slate blends with the Carrara marble on the countertops and the brushed and flamed natural granite on the huge island. The dark custom cabinetry was inspired by the “simple, pure design of Armani Casa,” says Stuart, then crafted by the Rothers Design/Build team.
“Sometimes, when I’m working from home, I find I’ve spent the whole day in the kitchen, getting coffee, looking out the window, working on my laptop,” marvels Taveras. “This kitchen has a certain magnetic pull.”
The fireplace looks through to the family room. Four leather Roche-Bobois chairs nestle around the cast stone fireplace.
The powder room on the main floor has a square theme. “It was not the easiest thing trying to find a square toilet,” says Stuart, but Kohler had one.
Behind the main kitchen is the catering kitchen and butler’s pantry, which offers a pass-through to the bar area off the living room. Soft grays continue in the dining and living rooms, which offer more formal spaces grounded by dark wood floors. A pair of lighted urns from Paris and a hammered silver mirror contrast with the mahogany dining table and buffet.
In the living room, gray and cream draperies in a damask pattern start the textural theme, picked up by the grasscloth fabric on the sofa and loveseat, zebra-striped chenille pillows, and leather side chairs bridge the transition from wingback to club. A 1951 black-and- white print by Henri Matisse and a pair of floor lamps flanking the fireplace add those “controlled flourishes” to the neutral scheme.
“The great thing is that people can come in the door and enjoy a formal party in this part of the house,” says Stuart. “We can close off the kitchen and the family room. And when we want a casual party, we can close these rooms off and concentrate on the kitchen, family room and pool. It’s a great house for entertaining.”
Upstairs in the master bedroom, the bed frame is upholstered “like the seats in a BMW,” says Stuart. Generous dupioni silk draperies with a ballgown hem frame the tree-house view. A pair of chaises longue—and a cushioned dog bed for Lexi, the wheaten terrier—pro- vide additional comfort.
In the master bath, heated tile floors and a sculptural Victoria & Albert bathtub by Kohler add luxury. Yet it’s the functional built-ins that are quietly impressive—the morning latte station, the double chests of drawers, the “car wash” body sprays in the shower, a washer and dryer, and a three-way folding mirror. Pin-dot tile on the walls, Caesarstone counters, and an oval pebble tile in the shower make the most of neutral-toned texture.
In addition to a house that works as beautifully as it looks—the “smart house” system by Integrated Electronics offers control of each room by a touch of a button— Stuart and Taveras have a wealth of witty remodeling stories.
Take the tile, for instance.
Taveras rolls his eyes as he talks about “Ray’s Tour of Tile”—the hundreds of gray tiles, Taveras claims, that Stuart had to look at before finding what they needed in the house. “In my work, I have to decide quickly,” he explains, “but Ray has to look at everything.”
Stuart, who approached this project like a “big hobby,” recalls how “Luis went into complete nuclear meltdown” when their living room was full of tile samples.
But now that the project is almost done, Stuart and Taveras can relax—and throw one hell of a party.