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Contemporary Infill In Historic, Established Neighborhoods

 
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 Melissa Brown

Melissa Brown

Older, established neighborhoods are often made up of houses with varying styles, size and age. This diversity presents the opportunity to create a statement with a new build using contemporary design. In Kansas City, we see this on both sides of the state line. Westwood, Kansas is a diverse neighborhood in age range as well as socio-economically. Most existing homes in this area were built in the 1950s and utilize a rich palette of materials, colors, and textures. The dense landscape includes large, mature trees and lush plantings in an urban setting. Neighborhoods with this kind of recognized character and variation present opportunities for homeowners to design bold and let their home reflect their personalities. Judy Joss, homeowner in the Westwood Park neighborhood, took advantage of the opportunity for her new-build to encompass her character and style. We designed her home to be open and filled with light to match her warm, outgoing demeanor. She also wanted her home to feel inviting to her neighbors and integrated with the streetscape, so we designed a front and central courtyard. The proximity and openness creates cozy, outdoor living space that opens up to the street and engages people passing by. Although traditional materials such as brick, lap siding and stone were used for the house exterior, the arrangement, pattern and detail present a refreshed look. Designing to blend into a rich context does not come without challenges. Contemporary design is often stripped almost completely of ornament, leaning in favor of interesting composition and colors as well as large expanses of windows. In order to fit in within a neighborhood’s context, we consider scale, site lines, and the relationship of the building to the land in order to uphold the original neighborhood planning principles. Smaller lots in these older, established neighborhoods also mean that houses will have a smaller footprint. This ‘lean’ approach to living in turn improves the livelihood of the residents and helps maintain the fabric of these older, urban neighborhoods. Downsizing is an attractive feature for people who are moving to the city from their larger, suburban homes. It’s an opportunity for homeowners to reduce their footprint from an energy standpoint as well as maintenance. This act of downsizing is also a trend that we are seeing for people who are aging but still very able-bodied. Often they are looking for one-level, flexible living spaces that will allow them to live independently, longer. Purposeful design is the driving force behind residential projects and every space detail is considered for the needs of the residents. Home design is based on what the individual or family needs and how we make these elements work together in the best possible way. Style, décor, travel and experiences are all influences on the way a resident desires their home to be arranged. We recognize the importance of blending essentials with aesthetics and lead homeowners from the beginning of the design process to move-in.