House Tour: Style and the City
In the center of Kansas City, Missouri, a couple builds a modern home and a thriving design business fueled by the local art scene’s energy, color and creative spirit.
Tad and Jessica Carpenter were ready to leave their loft. But not loft life. So the couple decided to build a compromise on a narrow lot near Kansas City's historic Country Club Plaza shopping area. "We don't know anything about load-bearing walls, but we had a very good idea of how we wanted to live," Tad says. They envisioned a spacious house with echoes of an urban loft-high ceilings, exposed brick, open plan, concrete floors.
Today, the all-white, three-story home is a 2,500-square-foot canvas for the couple's collection of art and antique toys. And the city is their neighborhood. Tad and Jessica walk to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or to dinner in the Plaza. Their office studio sits 10 minutes away amid galleries in the Crossroads Arts District. "Kansas City has always been a creative community," says Tad, whose father was an illustrator and creative director at Hallmark downtown. "Walt Disney, Kate Spade and Charlie ‘Bird' Parker all started here." And so did Tad and Jessica. But building their home in the city's heart is a promise: These artists are staying put.
Tad and Jessica's white-and-bright interior shows off their bold art and the wink and whimsy of their personalities. Tip: Use repeating colors to unify an eclectic gallery wall. Above, black and white recur in mats, frames and the artwork; red, blue and mustard yellow show up as secondary players.
Tadd and Jessica's fuss-free design extends to the front exterior, where a "lawn" of low-maintenance grasses catches the breeze on the steep front slope.
Tadd and Jessica have been collaborating since they met as students, designing their home together and growing their studio, Carpenter Collective.
"We're always picking up new things and rotating them," Jessica says of the toys and quirky objects that hide around the home. (An orangutan at the Houston Zoo painted the canvas above.)
A small bonus space off the kitchen has built-in shelves, cabinet storage and a corner chair. The Eric Pfeiffer Mag Table is a clever piece that can flip to sit on its short side and be a laptop stand.
A sectional anchors and defines the living room, just steps away from the kitchen island. The fireplace is situated to be enjoyed from both the kitchen and the sofa. Tip: Neutral upholstery and midcentury modern-style pieces like these chairs are a restful visual foil to all the funky finds.
A handful of warm wood pieces keeps a white house from feeling too cold. In the kitchen, a rustic table and bench sit beside the quartz island and white leather stools.
"Even with our office downtown, I love having a place at home designated for work," Tad says. Deliberately separate from the rest of the home, their lower-level studio (above and below) has concrete floors that extend outside to form a patio and walled courtyard.
"Jessica has more of a clean, modern aesthetic, and that's how our space meets: her furniture decisions alongside my eclectic artifacts." - Tad Carpenter
Inspired by Mexican embroidery, Tad and Jessica designed the posters above the bed. Tip: Save symmetry for spots where it will have big impact-as in a mirror-image piece hung over a bed and twin tables.
Tad and Jessica's design business, Carpenter Collective (pictured below), is in the Crossroads Arts District. They welcome visitors (and sell prints and posters) on First Fridays, when the area's shops and galleries stay open late for pop-up parties and music.
The Carpenters share a few favorite creative hot spots:
Christopher Elbow Chocolates Stunningly colorful confections.
Hammerpress Huge array of letterpress cards and stationery, plus posters.
Happy Habitat Beautiful, bold blankets and pillows.
Oracle Taxidermy, insects, skeletons and curiosities.
Foxtrot Supply Co. Handmade leather and canvas goods, including bags and wallets.
Ulah Stylish men's clothes, shoes and candles in novelty scents like Outfielder.