Together with their talented design team, a Kansas City couple builds a modern-traditional farm home on an historic property set amidst the scenic countryside of Bonner Springs.
Story by Jeanne de Lathouder | Photography by Matt Kocourek
Ann and Randy Nordquist have a passion for country living, so they created their very own blissful lifestyle on a sprawling farm just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas. Purchased in 2015, their idyllic 28-acre property encompassed a farmhouse built in 1889, a machine shed with living quarters, an 1880s hay barn, and several small buildings. Without hesitation, the couple settled in and lived in a “barn apartment” for three years while they built a five-stall stable for their show horses followed by a spectacular farm-style dream house.
“The site originally was purchased in 1878 by Edward McCaffrey, an early pioneer farm family of Leavenworth County,” says Ann. “When the property became available, we sadly discovered the house was beyond repair, but we still loved the setting. It took us a year to build the horse barn and two years to build the house but living on site was nice because we could observe the building process daily,” she notes.
When they first started planning their home, Ann and Randy knew they wanted to design a traditional farmhouse with some modern twists yet also incorporate items from the original dwelling and outbuildings. They had a wonderful working relationship with Kansas City interior designer Monica Hicks from an earlier remodel, so they called on her again — along with her husband, Todd Hicks, an architect with NSPJ Architects. The Nordquists had been saving pictures of ideas they liked and worked with Todd to create a plan with a big front porch and large symmetrical windows as well as a more open and up-to-date first floor that included the master bedroom.
“Ann is originally from Wilmot, South Dakota, and has very fond memories of her family farm,” says Monica. “Although farmhouse style is a trend for most, it is the genuine article for her — farm life is the cloth from which she is cut. To this day, she loves to collect unique and pure-bred animals including French bulldogs, heritage chickens, Toulouse geese, Olde English Babydoll sheep, and miniature donkeys. Just this year, she and Randy designed and raised a sign on their property titled ‘The Double Yoke Farm’ and chose this name because the two of them have been pulling together, side by side, for 45 years,” she adds.
In addition to caring for her charming menagerie of farm animals, Ann’s main hobby is showing horses, and she and Randy both enjoy the gorgeous stable they built on their property to support this endeavor. Recently retired from a reinsurance company based in Zurich, Switzerland, Randy now embraces country life and spends time taking care of all the farm pets, blacksmithing, and raising honeybees.
The overall design for the couple’s home was based on the idea that farmhouses were often built small, and as the family grew, one-story additions were eventually added to each side of the house. Todd was careful to find a way to incorporate the space Ann and Randy desired, while preserving the charm and scale that an original farmhouse would have. He designed an intentional contrast between the two-story center element that resembled the original farmhouse and the one-story pine wings flanking each side. To create a striking juxtaposition, he used a galvanized metal roof for the front porch and pine portions and a black roof for the center structure. Todd applied the same pine siding used for the barn and stable on these wings and used white lap siding for the middle portion of the home. One wing provides a garage and craft room/office and the other houses a master suite with a bathroom and walk-in closet. These add-ons create a lovely courtyard in the back of the house near a restored windmill and water well, along with several little niches around the house used for entrances and gardening.
Inside the main home, the kitchen is open with a farm-style sink and lots of windows that flood the room with brilliant natural light. To achieve the look of a traditional old farmhouse, Ann and Randy chose quarter-sawn and rift white oak flooring and five-panel solid wood doors accented with glass transoms.
“What I most enjoyed about this project is the relationship between the homeowners, contractor, architect, and interior designer,” says Todd. “It was truly a team effort, with each person utilizing his own particular strength to bring the Nordquists’ vision to reality. Bryan Hermreck, the contractor, who is also Ann and Randy’s son-in-law, was exceptionally good at considering the ramifications of every detail. Each person collaborated with the other to a greater degree than usual and it was a design-build project at its finest,” he notes.
Working to incorporate items from the original farmhouse and buildings into the new house, Bryan used wainscoting from the ceiling of the old porch on the wall of the garage entry. Ann and Randy salvaged the hardware from a sliding door in the old hay barn and used it to embellish an interior sliding door between their master bedroom and bath. Sadly, the hay barn on their property was destroyed by a tornado just this spring. During the house build, a 100-year-old red maple tree next to the house blew down and Randy took the tree to a Missouri mill and had several planks and a fireplace mantel crafted from the trunk. He later used his blacksmithing skills to make corbels for the mantel and coat hooks for the garage entry. He also salvaged several of the hand-carved limestone rocks from the foundation of the original farmhouse and implemented them into the front-yard landscaping.
To bring meaningful custom accents into the home, Monica suggested that an accent chair from Ann’s grandmother be upholstered in a spotted cowhide and decorated Randy’s TV room — named the “Dakota Room” — with black-and-white pictures from Ann’s childhood. Stainless-steel pendant lights and hand-cranked adjustable-height bar stools in the kitchen and craft room echo the galvanized metal roof and restored windmill. Black accents mirroring the look of an old schoolhouse chalkboard embellish throughout — from the front door to the satin-polished black granite countertops and classic black-and-white basket-weave tiles in the master bathroom. Ann’s love of Wyandotte chickens inspired the chicken-wire lighting in the dining room, and the glass doorknobs from her childhood farmhouse are repurposed on the front doors as well as the cabinetry in the master bathroom and closet.
“My favorite technique in pulling together a home interior is to find things that are significant and meaningful to the homeowners and then build around those pieces, layer by layer,” says Monica. “This is so much fun because once we are able to define the things they like, clients easily get into the groove of designing so that I simply become a co-designer in the process,” she notes. “Ann provided me with a collection of magazine pictures she liked, and as I identified the repeated and consistent elements she was drawn to, I began to dig for meaning. This is when I learned about the farmhouse in South Dakota and the things she remembered and loved about that house. I began to tie her past with her present to create the feel of her future home. Seeing it all come together for her was delightful,” she adds.
“One of the things we always enjoy hearing is when someone asks about how we built on to the original house,” says Ann. “Many think the main structure is the original farmhouse — and that’s exactly what we were going for! We spend a lot of time with family in the open-style kitchen around the island, and on cool evenings, we love to sit around the built-in firepit on the patio. Our five grandchildren live just down the road, and with horses, mini donkeys, Babydoll sheep, Toulouse geese, chickens, cats, and dogs, there is always something to entertain them,” she laughs.
- Builder/Contractor: Bryan Hermreck Construction
- Interior Designer: Monica Hicks
- Architect: NSPJ Architects
- Landscape Architect: NSPJ Architects
- Electrician: A & P Electrical
- Flooring Hardwood: Acme Flooring
- Excavation: Bill Lowe
- Framing, Kitchen Ceiling Beams, Staircase Railings, Trim Work: Bryan Hermreck Construction
- Cabinets: Build to Fit
- Masonry & Outdoor Firepit: Canyon Stone
- Foundation: DJ’s Foundations
- Heating & Cooling: Earl Bryant Heating & Cooling
- Drywall: Elite Drywall
- Appliances: Factory Direct Appliance
- Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
- Tile Installer: Gary Parker
- Fireplace: KC BBQ and Fireplace
- Doors: KC Building Supply
- Windows: Marvin from KC Building Supply
- Garage Floor: Kootenay Construction
- Painter: Manuel Hernandez
- Window Coverings: One Stop Decorating
- Roofing: Pyramid Roofing
- Garage Doors: Raynor Garage Doors of Kansas City
- Countertops: Rock Tops
- Tile Supplier: Tile & Stone Warehouse
- Lumber: Vesta Lee Lumber Framing
- Light Fixtures: Wilson Lighting