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home homeowners StePHeN AND SARAH HOPKINS location CROSSROADS ARtS DIStRICt local resources JOe MUNSON & ASSOCIAteS, LUCID ARtS story by KeRRY PItt-HARt photos by BOB GReeNSPAN

ready for its closeup Before the Crossroads Arts District became famous for its galleries and shops, it was known as Film Row, home to the Midwest offices of MGM, Warner Brothers, Disney and 20th Century Fox. When Stephen and Sarah Hopkins purchased a loft there in 2005, they knew their own production—creating a home from a warm shell—would require a cast of strong supporting artisans and craftsmen. Though ready for improvements, the loft was not ready for occupancy. There were four walls—one with a giant hole in it—and an HVAC unit hanging from the ceiling. The appeal was that it wasn’t a cookie-cutter loft, and the Hopkins family could customize the space however they wanted, which is exactly what they did. While waiting for the loft build-out, the couple spent eight months in an apartment on Metcalf and I-435, which although temporary, left quite an impression. Vestiges of this are a collection of six photographs taken by the couple as a way to document their time, most of it spent in the car surrounded by other weary commuters, semi trucks, traffic signs and concrete. Now Stephen and Sarah find themselves surrounded by a feeling of community, coffee houses, a wine merchant, a green buildings material showroom and the reason “the condiment shelf in the fridge sees the most use”: great neighborhood eateries, including Los Tules, Extra Virgin and YJ’s Snack Bar. This may explain why after five years, the kitchen bar is still in nearly pristine condition (next spread, left). Truly the epicenter of the space, it also serves as the backsplash for the stainless kitchen countertops. Designed and built by local furniture designer Joe Munson, this heavy hitter, both in looks and weight (1,000 pounds, requiring 16 people to move it), has thoughtful details like a built-in flower vase and seamless 1-inch square outlets with 1 1/4-inch square pushbutton clear bezel switches from Switzerland. The bar is composed of more than a dozen different components, including a custom-designed icon insert featuring a blade graphic for the disposal and a light bulb graphic for the lamps. The 1/8-inch diameter, micro-florescent lamps found at the front of the bar are the kind used to illuminate LCD screens in laptops. Though fragile, they have incredible endurance, and, says Munson, “[they] should last 50 years [when] turned on 14 hours a week.” Only one has needed replacement in five years. But Munson’s design, incorporating spring-loaded receptacles for the lamps, will make even that rare task easy. “That’s what I’m most proud of,” he admits. “Taking something cool and making it practical.” When the lights are not in use, natural light pours in through three large windows (left)—the center one rumored to be the loading area for the horses from bygone L i f e ’ s b e t t e r i n KC

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Film Row days. Left bare since the couple took possession, it wasn’t until this year that the windows became covered in Munson’s invention, the Integrated Bottom Up Shade. The fabric is a washable solar shade that comes in dozens of colors. The shade’s pièce de résistance is the clever mechanical apparatus concealed within the custom frame, which employs a counterweight making it a breeze to raise the shade up or down. Munson’s work can also be seen in two large-scale sliding doors (above left). Approximately 8 square feet, they are composed of three separate panels crowned with laminated inkjet prints designed by Daniel Bartle of Lucid Arts. Stephen’s interest in maps prompted Bartle to use an enlarged map of Kansas City from 1907 to form the background for clouds and a flock of birds. A star marking “You Are Here” at their address, as well as a photo of graffiti captured just around the corner, accurately place the viewer in the midst of the depicted surroundings. L i f e ’ s b e t t e r i n KC

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“The biggest challenge has been to create an open space that is livable,” Sarah says. In order to maintain the integrity of the space, much of the furniture from their former Mission home was donated because it had no presence in the new space. Now much of the furniture and accessories are from Design Within Reach, Black Bamboo and Crate and Barrel. Inherited pieces like a pair of chairs that belonged to Stephen’s grandmother and artwork from the mother of one of Sarah’s childhood friends accompany the new additions. Another standout is Munson’s coffee table design, incorporating a powder-coated V8 engine block under glass (first spread). Above the dining room table hangs a stunning Cellula Swarovski crystal chandelier designed by Carbone and Vudafieri (previous spread, left). The contrast between the traditionally cut crystals with the polished aluminum base and the nearby lamps fronting the modern metal bar is a testament to the owners’ visual acuity. This harmony by contrasts is further echoed in the shape and design of the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs. Here, the curve from seat to back is gradual and sculpted to fit the body while the top of the bar reveals more of an abrupt right angle. The Hopkins/Munson collaboration reminds this writer of the relationship American art collector Peggy Guggenheim had with the painter Jackson Pollock. “With no strings as to what or how I paint it,” is how Pollock described the commission he received to create a mural for the entry to Guggenheim’s townhouse. Of the Hopkins couple, Munson relates, “They generally like my ideas and usually let me just run with them. They have sort of come to represent me maturing as a designer and fabricator, and I am very proud of our relationship and the work that is a product of that.” This relationship will continue with the couple’s future plans for a kitchen remodel. n L i f e ’ s b e t t e r i n KC

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A home ready for its closeup  

Despite needing a heavy dose of TLC, a revived loft in the Crossroads Arts District now echoes the artistic flair of its surroundings.

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