Urban Evolution

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This stunning California-contemporary gem makes its mark on Beacon Hill

Story by Rachael Hedgcoth    |    Photos by Samantha Stultz

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Don Wratchford never imagined that a Kansas City snowstorm would lead him to his next home, but that’s exactly what happened in February 2015.

“There was a really bad snow storm a year and a half ago and I got turned around and ended up in Beacon Hill,” said Wratchford.

A Kansas City Northland resident for most of  his life, Beacon Hill, located just southeast of downtown Kansas City, Mo., was a fresh discovery for Wratchford.

He quickly became enamored with the rolling terrain, the upscale residential development and the diverse urban vibe of the historic neighborhood.

A single father with a grown son and daughter, Wratchford had turned his relocation sights toward the Kansas City horizon. And thanks to the city’s aggressive redevelopment plan for Beacon Hill, generous property tax breaks made Wratchford’s decision to purchase a quarter-acre lot even more lucrative.

“I just decided it was time for Dad,” said Wratchford.

A business analyst for Merrill Lynch, he frequently goes downtown to visit potential clients and prospects and the Beacon Hill area seemed a natural fit for this new chapter in his life.

“There is so much development downtown, the growth is just off the charts,” said Wratchford. “I like the vibe of downtown and being right in the middle of it all. Things are just getting started at 5 p.m.”


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Remnants of Yesterday 

Once Wratchford secured his spacious corner lot, he connected with William Hogue of WH Architects, Inc., and homebuilder Randy Dalrymple, owner of Overland Park-based Fountain City Custom Homes.

A plan to bring the California-contemporary to life – while also meeting the stringent guidelines set forth by the Beacon Hill architectural review committee – was soon underway.

“Randy and I had the same kind of vision,” explained Wratchford as he joked about being a “closet” architect. “I get graph paper and draw out sizes of rooms, and then I start piecing it all together.”

When the design process was finalized, blueprints detailed a 3,100-square-foot story-and-a-half with a three-car garage.


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With four bedrooms, four full baths, a daylight lower level, and airy indoor and outdoor living space, the home offers a beautiful blend of form, function and fun.

True to Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature modern style, Wratchford’s home layout was, in many ways, determined by the characteristics of the land.

Towering above the neighborhood streets, the striking gray stucco and smart siding exterior blends effortlessly with the sloping lot and surrounding mature trees.

The land holds a bit of history, as well, given that during the construction process, the basement of a century-old church was unearthed. In fact, stone walls from the church’s first floor still stand at the back of Wratchford’s lot and the new home’s garage sits atop the original slab of the church.

Wratchford says he has met several people who remember attending the church as children.


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Seamless Space

After eight months of construction, the Beacon Hill corner lot showcased an exquisite makeover. Wratchford settled into his new home in June 2016.

The manicured landscaping, large cedar porch and vibrant orange front door at the top of the home’s ascending walkway translate into instant curb appeal.

Inside, bold expressions of form and design and sophisticated interior decor are testament to this home’s creative presentation. Its open concept is defined by simplicity and clarity, soaring ceilings and progressive architectural elements.

Extensive use of glass and large transom windows on all three floors tempers the boundary between nature and architecture and welcomes natural light.


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The main floor’s dazzling kitchen flaunts crisp white IKEA cabinetry, commercial stainless steel Sub-Zero and Thermador appliances, lighted drawers and stainless steel open shelving. The culinary – as well as organizational – possibilities are endless.

“I love to cook and entertain,” explained Wratchford.

Dark oak hardwoods provide a dramatic contrast against the light gray walls, white and gray marbled granite countertops, ornate light fixtures and chrome stair railing. Large white quartz tile cut in half paired with strips of glass tile add a shimmering note to the stove’s backsplash.

Rounding out the main floor are the dining room, a full bath and the svelte master bedroom suite with polished appointments including vertical Italian Zebrino tile in the bath, two large full body shower towers and a two-person air/water jetted tub with LED lights and music. The suite’s walk-in closet has zebra-print carpet as well as multiple built-in drawers, sliding shoe racks and a built-in tie rack – further testament to Wratchford’s penchant for organization.

One of the main floor’s most eye-catching elements is the 48-foot-long gallery which is punctuated by 12 feet of sliding glass doors and 12 feet of windows framing the sparkling cobalt pool.

“Basically, over half the space of that hall is windows and doors,” said Wratchford of the unique design. “The hallway has about 200 square feet of windows and natural light so it feels like being outside with the pool just steps away.”


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Anything But Ordinary

Upstairs, three artfully-appointed bedroom suites with walk-in closets ensure guests will enjoy plenty of space as well as panoramic vistas of downtown Kansas City and Crown Center.

An open-concept staircase outfitted with dark oak stair treads and chrome closet rod railings connects all three floors and serves as a focal point of the home.

“Randy and I came up with that on the fly,” said Wratchford of the unusual design. “We were just messing around and we needed to meet the building codes.”

The end result is a commanding pattern of linear compositions, smart style and contoured shadows thanks to the stairwell windows.

The staircase continues to the cozy lower level retreat where a theatre area, stylish bar, dance floor, seating area and full bath set the stage for quiet, conversational or lively intermissions from life’s daily grind.

Full of daylight, the lower level’s subtle shades of gray and impeccable décor reinforce the home’s overall sense of serene composure.

Outside, the courtyard offers an al fresco dimension that begs for family, friends, good food and great times. The rectangular pool, outdoor kitchen and seating area, smoker, grill and fire pit make the refreshing retreat an ideal year-round escape.

Patio lighting and LED uplighting on the home’s front and side add further illumination at nightfall.


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Inspiring Environs

In the short time he’s lived in the home, the good-natured, gracious homeowner has hosted several gatherings.

“I already know far more neighbors than I ever did in the Northland,” said Wratchford.

Happy with his relocation decision, he is drawn to the diversity, cordial culture and raw energy of the Beacon Hill and Union Hill neighborhoods.

“It’s very sociable and very urban,” said Wratchford. “It’s about the most diversified place I’ve ever been. Everyone has front porches and people are always out.”

At the end of the day, Wratchford achieved his goal of creating a residence that eloquently exemplifies the hallmarks of contemporary architecture: dynamic and eclectic yet also understated and wonderfully livable. His luxurious home fits right into the urban mix of renovated traditional homes, historic Kansas City houses and trendy modern housing.

“Don is a builder’s dream,” said Dalrymple of working with Wratchford. “He understands the process, knows what he wants and has the vision to make it happen.”

He added that the character of this California-contemporary residence is part of what makes it, and other Beacon Hill homes, so special.

“Think of Beacon Hill as a gallery of art pieces,” said Dalrymple. “Everything is custom and has its own character. Each architect has done his magic on these houses.”

For Wratchford, that magic couldn’t be more perfect.

“It’s like living at a resort in the middle of the city,” said Wratchford. “You can literally lay in bed and look out the door and see the pool just 20 feet away.  It’s a great way to start the day.”


Resources

Builder/Contractor: Fountain City Custom Homes   |   Architect/Home Designer: William Hogue, WH Architects   |   Interior Designer: Designs by Dal   |   Pool / Spa: Complete Pools   |   Pool Decking: Don Wratchford   |   Hardware, Light Fixtures, Plumbing Fixtures: All Modern   |   Countertops: Global Stone   |   Flooring and Tile: Global Stone   |   Cabinets, Glass & Mirrors and Window Coverings: IKEA   |   Electrician: Joe Kilowatt   |   Landscaping: Mike Ashley Landscaping   |   Doors and Windows: Morgan Wightman   |   Appliances, Furniture, Outdoor Furniture: Nebraska Furniture Mart   |   Landscape Lighting and Sprinkler System: RW Lawnworks

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