Simplistic Harmony

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Westport Roots Provide A Common Base For This Kitchen Transformation

Story by Ann Butenas   |   Photos by Paul Bonnichsen

Westport has a strong and engaging history and by all accounts, there is always something cooking in that part of town. Known as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kansas City, it acquired its name because it was the westernmost village where settlers came to load up on supplies before continuing on into the Kansas Territory. Today, this popular gathering place has become famous for the variety of stores, restaurants and nighttime hot spots it boasts.

One such business is Kitchens by Kleweno. Owned by Randall Sisk, this is a highly-regarded and long-standing business that can trace its roots in Westport all the way back to 1958, although the company was formally established in 1946 by Merle Kleweno. Sisk, originally an in-house designer with the company, assumed complete ownership of the business in 1998 and since then has left his impeccable and innovative design fingerprints in the homes of numerous Kansas Citians.  

It was in this thriving community that Sisk became acquainted with three other successful business operators: James Westphal, Mark Kelpe and Dan Salazar, the owners of four restaurants – McCoy’s Public House, The Foundry, Beer Kitchen and Char Bar. As they watched each other successfully grow their respective businesses, they have become friends, so it was an easy decision to turn to the talents of Sisk when it was time for these three to embark on the journey of redesigning their own home kitchens. 

“Westport has an incredible history,” expressed Westphal. “It is where Kansas City began and 99% of the operators are locally-owned businesses. It is a nice balance of residents, tourism and commerce, providing a good, eclectic mix that offers something for everyone. We love the neighborhood and the operators.”

Perhaps Salazar described Westport most aptly, “It has an old soul.”

You’d never know it by looking at this marvelous kitchen, but this contemporary culinary heaven is the heartbeat of a traditional Colonial-style home in Overland Park. When James and his wife Candice moved in 13 years ago, they knew some changes would have to be made within to reflect their passion for a modern aesthetic, and while the façade of their home still adheres to a more accurate version of a colonial home, the interior tells a completely different story, with the kitchen standing as the grand finale, of sorts, to the overall modern remodel.

“We love this house and its location, so we made it the way we wanted it to be,” expressed Westphal. “Randy was a great partner to have in this matter and he and his team understood what we wanted to achieve. Working together, we were able to make a great connection aesthetically to the rest of the home.”

What was originally a small, somewhat boxy kitchen with a standard 4’ x 3’ island was opened up to reveal a much bigger personality.

“We eliminated the china hutch and the traditional dining room and instead added efficient storage,” noted Westphal. “You can add more square footage to your home by simply getting rid of stuff.”

Sisk enjoyed being an integral part of this remodel, with its monochromatic and contemporary white surfaces with touches of rich walnut accents.

“James and Candice wanted a channel system look, with beveled drawers and doors that can be opened without handles,” said Sisk, referring to the sleek, stark look of that particular design.

The kitchen was purposely designed to look clean, which meant eliminating hardware, adding hidden storage spaces and incorporating an impressive walk-in pantry that is accessed by pushing in the floor to ceiling panels on the wall contiguous to the refrigerator. “No one even knows it is there until we show them,” said Westphal.

In order to create this open space, a couple of walls were removed which also allowed for the expansion of the adjacent  laundry room and a walk-in pantry.  Ample cabinet space allowed the Westphals to efficiently store all of their kitchen “tools of the trade” without overwhelming or cluttering the space.

“The cabinetry comes from a company in Canada called NEFF, which is a special high-end line,” expressed Sisk. “It is a marine board plywood that uses no glue and instead is all screwed together. The doors are of medium density fiber board painted in a pearl white low sheen metallic finish.” The refrigerator/freezer combination is also a part of the cabinetry look with doors that can be opened via the beveled edges on the side of the doors.

The odd angle of the island counter top not only enhances the artistic flow of the kitchen, but it also works well with the space.  Containing ample storage drawers and a built-in microwave, this island effortlessly works overtime to maintain the clean, crisp and organized look of the area.

Two sinks allow for ease of food preparation and entertaining.  The main, referred to as a chef’s sink, one boasts a huge reservoir and off to the side is a drain board and sliding cutting board. The smaller bar sink is located in the perimeter cabinet area opposite the refrigerator. This counter top was made six inches taller than the others to allow for greater ease when standing and preparing drinks for guests. The bar area, which wraps around on a 25-degree angle, also houses a flat screen TV.

The minimalistic look of the lighting provided by the simplistic recessed cans work in harmonious conjunction with the large windows above the main sink and the sliding glass doors leading to the deck.

Other unique details include the backsplash design along the perimeter counters in a ¼-inch porcelain made to look like marble and the white oak wood flooring, which balances out the entire room and sits in grand contrast to the Caeserstone perimeter countertops in a white blizzard color.

“We appreciate the way that Randy and his team were able to pull all of our ideas and combine them with their knowledge for a remarkable finished product,” said Westphal. “They kept us on track and made it an efficient process. They truly cared what the rest of the home looked like and stayed with the story we were trying to tell through the design and the efficiency.”

James, Candice and their two sons, ages 12 and 10, now spend far more time in their kitchen than they ever did before and appreciate how it is positively impacted their lives.

“We definitely spend more time in the kitchen now than we did before,” James smiled.

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