Tudor Reformation: Designer Kurt Knapstein Brings a Classic Brookside Home into the 21st Century

In the living room, a Hunt Slonem painting hangs over the sofa, while a Katherine Glover piece above the mantel reflects the glowing gold accents throughout.

In 2017, Kurt Knapstein introduced his friends to his new home on a gracious street in Kansas City, Missouri. The classic Tudor had great lines and a generous lot, but it needed some care. “I’m only the fourth owner, and the house was deteriorating,” he says. “As soon as I closed on the sale, I hosted an open house for friends, clients, and neighbors. Immediately after that the house was gutted to the studs.”

Knapstein knew what he wanted, but he did not want to approach the project piecemeal. He hired John Wind, principal architect with Piper-Wind, for the renovation drawings. “John helped me implement my ideas.”

Left: Homeowner Kurt Knapstein. Right: Knapstein designed the custom rug in the library, which mimics the octagonal shape of the room.

The concept in Knapstein’s head was “boutique London hotel,” with classic lines and materials, but a modern energy. The colors throughout have a traditional clubby feel—charcoal gray, rich taupe, sapphire blue, and malachite green accented with gleam of gilt—yet nothing is heavy. 

Left: The foyer retains its original Tudor-style wood paneling, which is offset by the contemporary James Marshall sculpture. Right: A small niche off the library is the perfect spot for a bird’s-eye maple hall chair and a custom chest.

The entry retained the original stained-wood paneling, but a graphic not-quite-plaid rug and the James Marshall sculpture add a dash of contemporary flair. Knapstein mirrored the back wall to open the landing. The ceiling there and in the emerald Innovations silk fabric-clad dining room are gold leaf, which creates a flattering glow. “I had a gold-leaf ceiling in the entry of the last house,” he says. “I love the elegance of it and wanted to have it again.”

The sunroom’s L-shaped sofa with matching ottoman is the perfect spot for watching TV.

Still, Knapstein has a practical side. He capitalized on the ample light in the kitchen and used clean lines in his design for that room. It’s functional and fanciful at the same time. “If it’s just me eating at home, I can move a stool over to the eating space at the island and watch TV, which looks like a piece of art most of the time,” he says of the Samsung Frame television.

But when he entertains, which he very much enjoys, he has a quick and easy solution to accommodate a crowd. Stools are whisked to the garage, the table moves into position for a bartender to use as the front bar, and the island, which has an ice maker and both refrigerator and freezer drawers, becomes the back bar. “The first party at the house was a patrons party for the Symphony Ball in 2019,” Knapstein says. “I had 190 people here. Thank goodness there was incredible weather.”

Left: Knapstein usually sells most of his furniture with the sale of each house he renovates for himself, but the stunningly detailed hand-carved mirror hanging above the dining room buffet travels with him. Right: In the powder room, extra details, such as the graphic wallpaper and floor tile design, give a small space a big impact.

It was still a lively crowd in the deep-hued living room, for which Knapstein designed the graphic cobalt rug. The stone fireplace surround roots the room in its Tudor sensibility, while Hunt Slonem’s rabbits seem to be having their own party above the sofa. It’s a room that’s made for chic evening entertaining.

To counter the fast pace of his busy practice, Knapstein made the primary bedroom his haven. “The ceiling here was eight feet tall when I bought the house,” he says. “My previous home had a 12-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling, and so I knew I wanted more height.” He was able to vault the room with a ten-foot-tall tray ceiling that visually enlarges the space.

The kitchen was set up for practicality on a daily basis. “I like putting mirror behind a cooktop,” Knapstein says. “It opens up a space, and is actually incredibly easy to clean as well.”

Knapstein wanted to take advantage of the commodious backyard—something that he hadn’t had at his last house in Sunset Hill—so he employed an abundance of glass along the back of the house to link the indoors and outdoors. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the sunroom on the back of the house visually double the inside space and provide the natural light that Tudors sometimes lack.

Left: The primary bath—with its tiled walls, deep marble counters, and classic nickel sconces—has an art deco vibe. Right: Varying hues of deep gray and lots of texture, including bed linens from Annabelles and Phillip Jeffries wallcovering, create a cozy cocoon in the primary bedroom.

The covered patio became a popular spot to entertain friends on Sunday afternoons for Chiefs games. “I’m not really a sports fan, but it was a perfect space for having people over and being outside,” he says. The Tom Corbin sculpture centered in a grassy site in the backyard was the first piece he bought for the house. “I bought it during the renovation. I knew I wanted one of Tom’s pieces near the patio.”

The new landscaping at the front of the house is beginning to fill in, and Knapstein is patient with their progress. “It was an overgrown mess before, and I wanted it manicured and lush looking,” he says, then pauses. “The ornamental trees will someday be fantastic when they canopy over the driveway and front walk.”

Above: Characteristic details (red brick, gables, arched door) announce that this is a classic Tudor Revival home. Below: The backyard was totally renovated and landscaped.

The It List

Piper-Wind Architects

Weinberger Fine Art

Corbin Bronze

Interior Design
Knapstein Design

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