Weekend Getaway

A St. Joseph couple retreats to a contemporary condo in the heart of Kansas City

Want to get away? How about a completely different space with a different style in a different city, just minutes from your everyday life?

That’s what a St. Joseph, Missouri, couple decided was right for them—a second home in Kansas City.

For more than 20 years, the couple left their 1928 Tudor for weekend getaways in Kansas City, where they always admired the classic modern BMA Tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1963 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. On one visit, the couple saw that the building was being converted to One Park Place condominiums. In 2008, the plastic surgeon and his attorney wife became two of the first homeowners in the building. With busy careers, they wanted a “lock and leave” second home.

They also wanted a counterpoint to the style of their “beer baron” home in St. Joseph, the former residence of a Goetz brewing company owner.

The condo’s contemporary interior finishings of dark bamboo flooring, black granite countertops, white walls and black window casings set the tone for the interiors.

“We needed someone to guide us on the interior design,” says the attorney, “someone who possessed the ability to think everything through,” so the couple tapped Janice Molloy, with whom they had worked previously. “I highly recommend using an interior designer,” says the wife. “They’re out there in that world and they see it all.”

The first thing, counseled Molloy, was to make the view of downtown, north and east, the star of the show. In keeping with the white walls and dark floors, monochromatic furnishings in black and white form a dramatic but neutral background for the ever-changing view. Molloy also used glossy surfaces and mirrors on walls, furniture, and lamp bases to reflect the view into the room. Sparkly chandeliers in a variety of styles echo the lights of the city at night.

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Now the open-plan living area starts with the kitchen on the left and sweeps through, with the view, to the dining space in the center and the living area on the far right. In the dining area, a black lacquered table comfortably seats 10 in modern yet comfortable white leather chairs. Easy-care black leather sofas form a seating area around a black-and-white tubular yarn rug “that looks like sea anemones,” says the wife.

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On the side tables, metal sculptures by Brent Collins (who created the “Pax Mundi” sculpture at the H & R Block headquarters) take pride of place.

Collins’ work excites collectors and mathematicians, who both revel in the beautiful, if unusual, confluence of helicoid algorithms, hyperbolic hexagons, toroidal loops, and Scherk minimal surfaces. The couple has visited sculptor Collins at his Gower, Missouri, studio where they gained a new appreciation for the mathematical genius that informs his work.

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Interior walls feature art that the couple has collected locally and on their travels, and from artists that they have gotten to know on a personal level. The homeowners had Kansas City artist Iryna Stroganova add the missing Kauffman Center to an earlier painting of the view from the Liberty Memorial, now hanging in the hallway.

“It’s fun to have the view repeated here,” says the wife. They invited Florida artist Michael Kuseske to their home, where he was inspired to paint the stylized zinnia above their living room fireplace.

With panoramic living spaces open on two sides to great views, a cozy space is welcome, too.

In the study, between the living room and the master bedroom, a corner fireplace and big screen television provide optional downtime for the homeowners, who settle into the stylish black leather- and-chrome recliners. Strong colors draw the eye to a Philomene Bennett painting in the study. A pair of polished chrome etageres show off family memorabilia.

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In the master bedroom, the homeowners love walking past “Stellar” by British artist Patrick Hughes, helping create an optical illusion that the oil-on-board painting is moving. “It has a life to it,” the wife says. A sculptural headboard in black lacquer and custom bedding and blackout draperies keep the master bedroom calm and contemporary, like the best boutique hotel rooms.

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Closing the custom-made blackout draperies in stripes of black, gray and white on the east-facing bedroom windows allows them to sleep in on weekends.

In the guest bedroom, the homeowners used soft shades of beige and taupe but kept the sparkle of a Venetian mirror. “Janice suggested using a pair of double beds, and she was so right about that,” says the wife. With three grown daughters and several grandchildren, the double beds work out well for their college-age daughter visiting with friends or a married daughter visiting with her children.

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Now, when the homeowners drive down for the weekend, they really feel like they’re somewhere else, but with all the comforts of home. “It’s so wonderful to come here and be able to stay in our own place and just enjoy ourselves,” says the wife.

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