Substance Architecture

of

Hickman-Vaia Residence

Des Moines, Iowa

Built in 1956, this mid-century home was purchased in 2000 by the current owners, who wanted to return it to the spirit of the 1956 home, with a kitchen and bath that would fit their current needs. The back courtyard of the original H-shaped plan had been enclosed by the previous owners, and the space had been divided with multiple carpet and tile types.

The renovation moved the stair from the living/dining/kitchen wing into the back courtyard space and extended the kitchen across this widened space. Dividing the kitchen from the dining room is a book-matched granite wall that nods to Mies, and creates a new focus for the living/dining space. The kitchen is designed to have a daily kitchen mode, with epoxy painted steel backsplash doors, which open vertically to reveal glasswork cabinets in bright yellow, ushering in an entertainment mode. The kitchen side of the granite wall is finished with epoxy painted steel as well, with the downdraft fan integrated into the wall. White oak floors were extended into the kitchen and the former stair space, and were exposed and refinished in the balance of the house.

Two very small former bathrooms were opened up to create a larger glass-tile clad bath with floating mirror-doored custom cabinets and rectilinear white plumbing fixtures. All changes, along with the grass cloth wall covering, were designed to feel as though they may have been original to the home.

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