A Kansas City architect designs a Mission Hills dream home for his family
If you’ve ever admired a large bank of windows or an oversize door in a commercial building and thought I’d love that for my house, read on.
Brad Schrock is an architect with 360 Architects, a firm specializing in big commercial projects like Spin! Pizza, the K-State Olathe Innovation Campus, and Cisco Field, home of the Oakland A’s, in California. When he and his wife, Mary, outgrew the Leawood home they shared with their two sons, a corner lot in Mission Hills beckoned.
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“It all came together quickly,” says Mary. And all of a sudden, she and Brad had a new project—building a new family home.
Designing the house was “probably the most difficult thing I have done as an architect,” says Brad. “I think designing your own home really exposes who you are as an architect, what you believe in, with no influence and no guidance from a client. You are the client. I am thankful that I have a great wife who has very similar tastes and was someone I could continually bounce ideas off of and work together with.”
“Warm contemporary” is how Mary describes the feel they wanted.
“We were both influenced by Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. We love the honey color of Douglas fir and mixing materials like steel, concrete and plaster with warm natural wood and stone.”
To make the best use of natural light, Brad designed a T-shaped house with the bedrooms, closets, and storage on the top of the T, situated on the north side of the property. The stem of the T, where the kitchen, dining room and living room are located, gets light from three sides for the indoor/outdoor feel they wanted.
And to get the house to perform as they wanted—lots of windows but soundproof, sturdy and solid yet refined—they often turned to commercial products and fabricators such as Loewen Windows, Carter Glass, and Umicore/VM Zinc.
“The aluminum storefront windows in the entry and dining have worked very well and allow large amounts of insulated glass,” says Brad. “The natural zinc roof is more common in Europe on residential projects.”
Early on, the couple enlisted the help of Lisa Schmitz, an interior designer who has worked with 360 Architects.
“One of the keys to achieving a warm, modern style is to mix textures,” she says, “such as sleek stainless steel with poured concrete, end- grain wood with smooth porcelain, exposed wood beams with painted walls.”
Known for her timeless modern style with practical livability, Schmitz helped the couple with the finishes, sense of scale, and furniture that would fit their aesthetic. The balance of openness versus privacy strikes the first note as you enter the home. Floating from thin cables, a Lucite panel embedded with a decorative design prevents you from seeing the rest of the house but lets light flood through. The two paintings hanging in the foyer came from Mary’s great uncle.
In the living room, an asymmetrical fireplace wall makes great use of pre-cast concrete by Ryan Comment and steel plate by Mike Fouks, while letting in views of the private backyard. A sage-green sofa, black leather Mies van der Rohe “Barcelona” chairs, and crisp linen curtains (with the drapery hardware handcrafted by Brad), set a soothing tone.
The dining room’s wood table, simple leather chairs, and recessed lighting (instead of a chandelier) keep the focus on the view out the windows.
Two red Eames molded plywood chairs cozy up to the hearth in the kitchen, where the custom plaster finish by Edin Maslo on the fireplace wall resembles board-formed concrete. Classic “Navy” barstools from Design Within Reach gather around the island, a hand-in-glove design in concrete and stain- less steel. White pendants illuminate the space. A secret pantry behind the north wall of the kitchen provides storage and a wine and beverage center.
“Everything in the master bedroom is designed around Brad being able to get up early, work out, and get ready for an early morning flight without waking me,” says Mary.
A large walk-in closet, bathroom, and workout area close off for soundproofing. When the Schrocks want soothing sound, they open the French doors to hear the fountain.
Upstairs, a balcony of steel and airline cable crafted by Russ Bradley looks down to the kitchen and living areas. The sons’ bedrooms, a guest room, and Brad’s office offer plenty of room to spread out but still keeps things simple.
“We were diligent in planning for the patterns of how we live, and that paid off in so many ways,” says Brad. “We love waking up here in the mornings. We really do feel like we are on vacation.”