No one wants things to stay the same, particularly in our home environment. If we did, interior designers and style-conscious homeowners would still be suggesting avocado kitchen appliances, textured carpeting and vinyl wall coverings and paneled “rec rooms.”
Life moves on and so is the way we live our lives. It’s not enough, some of the time, to merely paint a room in a different shade or reupholster the sofa. Sometimes, to use a cliché, one wants a “new lease on life.” And it has nothing to do with signing a lease or even practicing the principles of feng shui.
In those situations, new means new.
Retired attorney Steve Joss had been perfectly comfortable in his pre-war Fairway cottage, tastefully decorated with fine antiques and conservative fabrics. It was, in some ways, even more traditional and genteel than the Topeka home where his parents lived.
“Steve’s parents had a lovely home with some beautiful antique pieces,” says his longtime friend, veteran interior designer Joe Haas. “But Steve’s Fairway home was loaded with a combination of French and English antiques and Oriental carpets. He was a real collector.”
After two decades in Fairway, Joss had an epiphany: He wanted a change. A big change.
“Steve called me and told me he wanted a new lease on life,” recalled Haas. “He was going to sell the Fairway house and move into a condo. He would keep a few things but sell everything else. He wanted a fresh new look.”
Things fell together, as they often do in Joss’ life. He found a comfortable condominium in the Kirkwood Circle complex just south of the Country Club Plaza that not only had the amenities that he wanted, but had been elegantly decorated by the former owner in a palette of soft, cool colors that suited his own taste just perfectly.
“I really didn’t change much when I moved in,” says Joss. “I loved the colors and the upgrades that the former owner had chosen. It was comfortable, but not too big. It was within walking distance to many things, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum, where I volunteer as a guide. It wasn’t cramped, and it had a lovely balcony where I could sit and read.”
To pull his new place together, Joss enlisted help from Joe Haas, his close friend of three decades and the longtime style maven at Webster House (where Haas obtained the fabrics and wallcoverings for the condominium). It was Haas who suggested that any contemporary furnishings come from Alejandro Home Design, the midtown design firm owned by Spanish-born Alejandro Lopez. An unabashed modernist, Lopez is particularly loyal to post-millennium Italian furniture, like the simplicity of Manzano-manufactured Calligaris tables, chairs and cabinet pieces.
“Steve had never mixed antiques with contemporary furniture,” says Lopez. “It’s an eclectic but very attractive and comfortable look. We used Callagaris pieces and some items from my own Alejandro Home Couture line.” Everything had to blend smoothly. He had kept some of his finer antiques, including a beautiful William and Mary chest on a stand.
“It’s a perfect blend of the heavier antique choices and the lighter modern pieces. It’s a look that’s music to the eyes,” Lopez says.
As a counterpoint to both style choices, Haas chose contemporary art from the Lopez studio, as well as a few Asian items, such as the 19th-century Buddha and the framed Tibetan scrolls.
“It’s a very good-looking and comfortable home for Steve. The most important thing is the ease and comfort of the lifestyle it affords him,” says Haas. “If you can’t be comfortable in a home—why bother?”
“I love living here,” says Joss, “but I don’t entertain. I might have a few friends over, but I don’t host parties. This place has a great flow and it would probably be a great place for entertaining. But I’ll be honest—I’m too lazy,” he says with a laugh.
Studio Dan Meiners
Alejandro Home Design