Eichler Inspo

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History mixes modernism in this dream kitchen

Story by Judy Goppert    |    Photography by Matthew Anderson

To love and honor. That is how Chris and Stacy approached the idea of remodeling the kitchen of their historic 1956 Eichler home. Amazing, colorful tiles on the wall are a spectacular main focal point, and pay homage to mid-century modern real estate developer, Joseph Eichler. They are “Eichler Blend,” from Mercury Mosaics where Eichler built many mid-century modern homes. As part of a TV program in the 50’s, Donald Drummond built several Eichler-architected homes here in Kansas City, this being one of them. The namesake tiles are hand-glazed in vibrant aqua, yellow, gray, and white. 



Meg Hilburn, Allied ASID, AKBD Certified Interior Designer of Circa Interior Design was introduced to the couple by one of the contractors she works with who was remodeling the kitchen. The homeowners loved their house, but their kitchen was not functioning for their family of four and beloved dog.

Meg connected immediately with the couple through their mutual love of historic homes.

“I grew up with an antique dealer mom in a historic home, and I now live in my own historic home,” she noted. “I love the challenge of designing to be sensitive to the past, yet incorporating the superior materials we now have at our fingertips. Stacy had earmarked the Eames barstools wrapped in Basquiat artwork for the kitchen prior to starting the remodel, which became the inspiration for the rest of the design. She has amazing style and love for mid century, so I knew this project was going to be a blast to design and they would be great to work with.”



The space plan for this kitchen was a complete reconfiguration. They actually dug a 20-foot trench into the original slab foundation to introduce a kitchen island that would house the sink and create a hard-working work triangle. The resulting island cabinetry in pure white houses the dishwasher, trash/recycling center, and ice machine. It’s wrapped in custom concrete countertops that waterfall, an innovation achieved with Concrete Designs KC. The back side contains 10 feet of push-to-open storage that’s   easy to access. On the wall facing the island, bespoke walnut cabinetry by Parks Cabinets is stain-matched to the room’s original lauan paneling. The warm tones of original paneling and new cabinetry now unify the vertical and horizontal planes of the space, creating a cohesive calm that coexists beautifully with moments of energetic color.

“After extensively interviewing the clients on how they cook, launder, and live, we moved the stacked washer/dryer out of the former entryway from the garage and leveraged an unused cavity carved out of the adjacent garage wall in order to create a pantry and laundry center. The ‘extra’ challenge here was following the original roof slope,” Meg explained.



They replaced the former tight laundry space with a functional mud room featuring custom cabinetry in cheerful waterfall blue with a bank of drawers and charging power for devices on one side, and a welcoming mud bench with open hooks and shoe storage on the other. 

On the wall facing the island, they centered the induction range and vented it out through the ceiling with a custom-fabricated, powder-coated hood by Strother Fabrication. Also on this wall is the chef’s refrigerator and microwave, housed in book-matched custom walnut cabinetry topped in Arctic White quartz. Backing all of this is that hand-glazed masterpiece of a tile backsplash adorning the full wall. 

“The pendant lights are original. Eichler was known to create his own lighting fixtures as part of his architectural plans and these are original Eichler pendants,” she continued. “We did carefully cut the stem length down just a bit to accommodate Chris’ 6’4” height. This had been a previous conflict for him! Other than that, we just carefully cleaned and rehung them. I can’t imagine anything else in their place. Could you?”



Adjacent to the work triangle is a bespoke walnut coffee station and bar constructed at half-depth housing coffee, bar supplies, and a lower wine cabinet. It’s backed by ribbed glass painted in the same cheery waterfall blue as the mud room for bright starts and ends to every day.

Unique cork flooring provides insulation, soundproofing, and longevity, plus has a nice soft feel to stand and work on.

“Then we rehung the original artwork created together by the family at the kitchen’s heart,” Meg smiled. “When we finally placed the Basquiat-wrapped barstools at the bar, this absolutely unique fine art dream kitchen was reborn.”


Resources

  • Design: Circa Interior Design
  • Contractor: Open Door Homes
  • “Eichler Blend” Medium Diamonds: Mercury Mosaics
  • Cabinetry: Parks Cabinets
  • Coffee Bar Glass Backsplash: Westport Glass
  • Concrete Countertops: Concrete Designs KC
  • Cork Flooring: Q Cork
  • Floor Installation: Elldaca Interiors
  • Hood Vent: Strother Fabrication
  • Quartz Surround Tops: Rocktops
  • Plumbing Fixtures: build.com

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