Tenacious Transformation

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Armed with impeccable vision, innovative ideas, and a great sense of humor, this Kansas City couple take on an ambitious renovation to create the home of their dreams on the upper west side.

Story by Jeanne de Lathouder   |   Photography by Matt Kocourek

Even the most unflappable homeowners would find it challenging to endure the hardships, headaches, and full-on disasters that almost always come with an extensive home renovation. But this Kansas City couple seemed to take it all in stride — despite a bizarre “cicada killer” invasion requiring them to fill the bee-like insects’ burrowed holes with gasoline and light them ablaze, which was then followed by an unexpected moth swarm of epic proportions after their windows had been boarded up and gaps were left around the perimeters. Nevertheless, after all was said and done, Doug and Mandy Stockman will attest that the transformation of their charming brick home nestled within the city’s eclectic upper west side was well worth the effort.

“We were initially attracted to the neighborhood because of its ethnic and economic diversity and proximity to downtown,” says Doug, an architect and principal at Helix Architecture + Design. “The house itself was really nothing to talk about. It had been painted with a lead-based 1950’s-era navy gray, so our first task was to restore the exterior shell of the original house. After that, we turned our attention to gutting the interior from top to bottom,” he adds.

Doug and his wife, Mandy, did most of the work themselves, leaving the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical to the professionals. It took them about two and a half years working in the evenings and on weekends to get it to a livable space, including routing and re-pointing all the masonry joints of the brick work both inside and out. During that time, they lived with Doug’s parents in Raytown and then with an artist friend in Westport.

“It was also Mandy’s first years of teaching — and then I decided to start my own architectural firm,” says Doug. “Shockingly, we are still married,” he jokes.

After having their two kids, the couple realized if they wanted to stay in the neighborhood, they would need to add an additional bedroom and a studio for Mandy, who is an artist. Their children, Sarah and Liam, had shared a room since birth, and finally, in sixth grade, Sarah was able move into her parents’ old master bedroom.

“We specifically chose to re-design the interior to reflect how we live, and our aesthetic desires — simple and progressive,” says Mandy. “Over the course of 19 years, raising multiple dogs, then   raising two kids, and an ever-changing downtown neighborhood, we have made this house our home,” she adds.

The final phase of their effort was adding a new addition to the rear of the property. The addition was designed to distinguish itself from the original historic structure while preserving the scale of the neighborhood. They utilized contemporary methods of construction and selected materials that were rooted in the diversity of the area.

“We designed the project ourselves, and it reflects our mindset,” says Doug. “Learn from the past and be complimentary, but don’t look back, be progressive. Our good friend Brian Faust, owner of Faust Construction, was our contractor and made this journey as painless as possible,” he adds.

“This project was extremely unique because the location is in the historic upper west side of downtown Kansas City,” says Brian. “This area has been a very popular place for modern design and contemporary-style homes, so many architects and designers reside here. The trouble is, the neighboring properties are extremely close — only three-feet to zero lot lines. This really becomes an issue when you decide to add an addition onto the back of the house and make your foundations actually lower than your existing basement as well as the neighbors,” he notes.

Realizing the almost impossible task of adding their addition, Doug and Mandy decided it was worth the risk to allow them to stay in this amazing home and neighborhood. With only a sixteen-foot-wide brick alleyway path that dead-ends behind the house, there was barely any space for staging materials or disposing of debris. A work crew would literally have to haul in and out what was needed each day and stage only the absolute necessities.

“Another challenge was that the exterior walls had to be one-hour fire rated because they were within less than five feet of the property line,” says Brian. “We decided to use a system called DensGlass Element and Prosoco Fastflash, which is an exterior-rated gypsum product that is not only fire-rated but also has a waterproofing membrane and a built-in air barrier,” he adds.

While assessing all the logistics, Brian put together a schedule and plan that allowed the Stockmans and their family to reside in the house while they did a massive expansion that would nearly double the size of their home. With an incredibly narrow house width, Doug had to be creative with the scale and proportion of the furniture, so he designed Murphy beds in both the basement and the master bedroom.

During the project, they installed new maple floors to match up seamlessly with the old part of the house. They also managed to repurpose and relocate Doug’s existing deck made out of galvanized steel, IPE, and glass panels to the back of the house. The multiple colors of metal siding were innovatively designed to go through the roof and walls as if the corners did not exist.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Doug because I completely understand his vision from both an architectural perspective as well as his unique individual style that he wanted to keep throughout the entire house,” says Brian. “I met him when we started building out the contemporary lofts at 423 Delaware in the River Market about 12 years ago. He and I have worked together on multiple occasions since then, so it was great to have the opportunity to work with him on his family’s own home,” he notes.

“Our home and our furnishings really reflect the functional needs of our family while remaining true to our desire for a clean, simple look,” says Doug. “I enjoy everything about this house — relaxing with family is probably the most enjoyable part — cooking and eating together and entertaining guests. Also, art has always been an important part of our life, and we wanted to incorporate it throughout the house. Mandy is an artist, and we have many friends throughout the community that are artists,” he adds.

The Stockman’s living room includes ceramic tiles made by Mandy, Sarah, and Liam, and their family room features a fiber installation that Mandy made from memorable clothing pieces from when the kids were little.

“I like to balance the flow of energy using Feng Shui throughout the house with color, plants, art, and crystals,” says Mandy.” I enjoy finally having an art space of my own — I don’t have to clean up projects off the kitchen table anymore,” she laughs. “I also love just sitting in the back room and playing my guitar. It’s fun to finally nest in our home.”


  • Architect/Home Designer: Helix
  • Builder/Contractor: Faust Construction
  • Cabinets: thomas.design.build, LLC
  • Doors & Windows: KC Millwork
  • Drywall: Greener Drywall
  • Electrician: Royal Wiring
  • Excavation: Select Grounds
  • Flooring Hardwood: SVB Flooring
  • Foundation: Shaw Concrete
  • Framing: Caldwell Contracting
  • Glass & Mirrors: Santa Fe Glass
  • Heating & Cooling: All Weather Control
  • Light Fixtures: Mercer Zimmerman
  • Lumber: Owen Lumber
  • Plumbing: Plumbing Plus
  • Roofing: Metal Works by Design
  • Tile: AMC Tile
  • Trim Work: Faust Construction

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