A Perfect Home Deconstructed

The season has arrived when homeowners begin to revamp the old with the new — sometimes with a plan of attack or design inspiration, sometimes out of spite for the dated design. Whether homeowners are updating their suburban escape, building a new home or simply freshening dated rooms, Kansas City designers are noticing some recurring home fashion themes.

Wendy and Nick Guehne of Guehne-Made run the gamut in what they offer clients, and are decidedly “in the know” regarding what’s “in” and what’s “out.” From custom staircases or a complete kitchen remodel, to inspiring homeowners to take a risk, the pair has seen a wide variety of requests and has executed new trends.

435 magazine recently caught up with the designer and carpenter — also husband and wife — to help “construct” the ultimate Kansas City home.

The Living Room

The revival of the formal living room is well under way. Kansas Citians are making the most of the space by repurposing family heirlooms, peppering with new favorites and adding timeless touches.

The Guehnes are seeing a lot of beams employed, in particular. The architectural detail adds a sense of structure while also adding a unique touch. Some beams are distressed, some are used for vanity trim and some are made to look structural.

Nick often custom-builds these beams to best suit a client’s needs.

Hearths and fireplaces are also receiving updates thanks to beams, reclaimed barn wood, concrete or even large pieces of distressed wood.

“People are kind of getting away from what was going on in the ’90s,” says Nick.

Wainscoting has also made a resurgence in today’s interiors. Seen on ceilings and living room walls, the trim adds a sense of sophistication to common space.

“A lot of people like wainscoting going up the walls,” says Nick. “Especially up the stairs if they have kids. The enamel paint can be easier to clean while still keeping a high style indoors.”

As for colors, Wendy suggests muted tones that won’t compete for attention on furniture-of-art pieces.


The Kitchen

Kansas City kitchens have become the “it girl” among home renovations. The Guehnes say more and more people are comfortable updating a kitchen from the builder-grade blueprint they’ve been living with.

Concrete countertops are making their industrial debut as homeowners are seeing the environmental effect.

“You can do anything to it,” says Nick of the concrete option. “At the end of the day I can make concrete look like granite or anything like that with the stains and the finishes. I think it gives more flexibility, so that way you don’t have a kitchen like everybody else.”

Color palettes are showcasing simple. Many kitchens are being white-washed or sticking with neutral tones so the kitchen’s assets can make a statement. Cabinets are going from dull to glam with a high-gloss refinish and stainless steel appliances are becoming a thing of the past. Today’s chef-grade appliances are now offered in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing homeowners to blend their cooking workhorses into their new design.

Wendy, who doesn’t mind taking risks, is encouraging her clients to break the mold.

“I am personally itching for people to start mixing the metals and not worry so much about having all stainless steel or all the brushed nickel or chrome,” she says.

One client recently added a copper sink, despite it being the only copper item in the space.

As Nick notes, “people like the patina.”


The Bar

For many, designing a home means finally being able to incorporate hobbies and interest into the design. Such was the case with one bar and cigar room re-do Wendy and Nick completed.

A custom-built wine cellar included a wine rack and cabinet doors with hand-carved antique insets, while the cigar room featured reclaimed courtroom partitions. Taking it one step forward, the bar features a backsplash made of onyx tile which was then backlit.

“That was pretty crazy, because I did a lot of research on it,” says Nick. “There’s no direction on how to do something like that. A lot of stuff I do involves incorporating antique pieces of furniture and trying to build with them, while at the same time not just nailing stuff to them in case (the homeowner) ever wanted to sell them or give them away.”


The Bedroom

Still in style is the master-suite retreat; however bedroom sets are a thing of the past. Many homeowners are finding reason to not necessarily change the footprint of a master bedroom but update its sanctuary status with new pieces.

The largest trend to hit this room is the custom-upholstered headboard.

“You can pick out any funky, crazy fabric you want or you can do all the detailing with the nail heads,” says Wendy.

Making the headboard any size, shape, dimension, color, etc., can be the punctuation a room needs. In the Guehnes’ own bedroom, Wendy requested an oversized headboard to create a dramatic affect.

Likewise, mixing vintage and modern pieces is a new emerging trend, especially with Kansas City’s recent up-cycling boom. Wendy suggests saving a favorite piece from an old bedroom set and incorporating it into the new design. Custom nightstands are an addition that can also help with space and design constraints.

And there are no rules on pillows.

“Obviously you want them to be balanced,” she says. “If it’s a king-sized bed, (get) three of the big European pillows and a bunch of smaller ones … and fluff ’em!” 


The Bathroom

Bathrooms have become the personality point in many homes. Using the room to be whimsical, glamorous, indulgent or even minimalistic, the large or small space is getting a little more attention.

“One we did was almost a Mafioso’s space,” says Nick. Here they stained concrete countertops, framed mirrors, created a travertine shower, laid a travertine floor and used crystal door pulls against bright white cabinetry for a cleansing refuge.

Wendy likes to push for at least one chandelier. And why not? The space deserves it. Vanities are also getting a face-lift as owners are opting for custom-built cabinets … and a lot of them.

Most notable in master bathrooms is the inclusion of the closet.

“If there is an opportunity to knock down walls and move things around … people will do so,” she says, to redefine the space. “It becomes one big ‘let’s get ready area.’”


photos: Bright Umbrella Photography, William & Jill DiMartino

Categories: At Home, Features, Homes & Real Estate