It’s not uncommon for one house in an established neighborhood to have a “reputation.”
That’s what Adam Kincaid discovered after purchasing an 80-year-old home in laid-back Armour Hills.
“I found out from my neighbors that my house was known as the ‘divorce house’ because at least four of the previous occupants had filed for divorce after living in the house,” Kincaid says. “That didn’t frighten me off. I’m absolutely a committed bachelor.”
When Kincaid moved back to Kansas City—after several years living in Chicago—he spent hours looking at photographs online, searching for the perfect house that met all of his requirements. The ‘divorce house’ wasn’t even in the top ten.
“I wanted to be closer to the Plaza,” he says, “in a neighborhood that had older homes and a mix of single people, like me, as well as couples, families and urban dwellers. Of course, that’s not the house that I found.”
He wasn’t particularly drawn to the Armour Hills neighborhood where he found the home—a solidly square 1937 structure with two floors and a finished basement—that interested him. “It was too far south, it was much more family-oriented than I was looking for. But I was getting desperate.”
The online photos of the house didn’t tell the whole story, says Kincaid. “There were no photos of the entryway, which really became one of the selling points for me. It’s a beautiful foyer with an open staircase. I knew this was it.”
Kincaid had a vision for the house that no one else seemed to have. “When I bought it, the house had been vacant for well over 300 days,” he says. “No one wanted to touch it. Every ceiling was cracked, and animals had taken up residence in here. Mice and squirrels lived between the floorboards. When we took out some of the ceilings, thousands of acorns poured out.”
He wasn’t intimidated about the thought of rehabbing a home because he took on a similar project with his three-story Chicago townhouse. But the Armour Hills home required far more hands-on work.
“I had to gut several of the rooms. I kept the kitchen pretty much intact, because one of the previous owners had done a pretty nice job,” Kincaid says. “I liked the cabinetry and the Carrara marble island. And the kitchen is the room I spend the least time in. I can’t cook and I don’t want to cook. I eat out most of the time.”
The rooms that Kincaid couldn’t keep included the living room, the master bedroom and the library. He also enclosed a screened-in porch to create a sunny family room.
“This is the first place I’ve ever lived with so many white walls,” says Kincaid. “In the past, I used a darker palette: grays, blacks, dark greens. But this house really called for clean white walls in almost every room.”
To add notes of color in many of the rooms, Kincaid—who claims he is not an artist—painted four or five canvases; contemporary, abstract, moody works that make a bold statement throughout the first floor rooms. “I created the paintings based on the room,” he says.
“What was the room missing? How would I complement what’s in here? My work is contemporary, but the house is not. I couldn’t have anything too jarring.”
Kincaid said that half of his budget for rehabbing the home went to the subtle, sometimes theatrical lighting for each room (which required the removal of several ceilings). “I understand good lighting,” he says.
What he did not want was the perception of a Roosevelt-era cottage with traditional black shutters and drab landscaping. “I tried to remove anything that evoked the word ‘cottage’ or had the pretense of being frilly in some manner. That’s not who I am. I tried to make this house my own.
“But once again, just as it was in Chicago, I’m the single guy living on a street of families.
A single guy … in the “divorce house.”
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