Design & Remodeling

Kansas City Home Design: The Making of a Masterpiece

A thoughtfully curated art collection takes center stage in this modern Westside condo.

Story by Katy Schamberger  |  Photos by Bill Mathews

In some home interiors, art fills a supporting role in the overall design aesthetic. Step into Phil and Nancy Groetken’s Westside condo, however, and it’s immediately clear that the thoughtfully curated collection takes center stage—and that’s the intent.

The Groetkens had already started to purchase art after they moved to the eclectic Westside neighborhood from the Northland—a relocation decision that was two years in the making.

“We kept driving through the neighborhood,” Nancy says. “We ended up deciding that this area was really exciting and where we wanted to live.”

After the Groetkens moved, they started perusing local art fairs and other art-related events, picking up a few purchases along the way. When a serendipitous opportunity to enlarge the existing condo emerged, the Groetkens jumped on the chance to add not just extra living space, but also some much needed wall space.

Modern design gets added warmth from the mix of colors and textures in the Groetkens’ bar kitchen. Quirky additions, like the outstretched hands mounted on the walls, pair well with the home’s other artful touches. Alejandro Lopez of Alejandro Home Design in the Crossroads designed the cabinet doors.

An Unexpected Expansion

When the condo next door went up for sale, Nancy says she and Phil realized the unit was “uniquely positioned to join ours. So we bought it!”

The two had a design in mind but enlisted the help of a local architect to avoid any construction issues. Once the main wall that separated the two units was removed, Nancy and Phil focused on extending their home’s modern design and warm, saturated color palette to the new space, as well as reconfiguring several areas.

“One of the real advantages we had in joining the two spaces is that most of the interior finishes were the same as ours, so we could meld the two together pretty easily,” Nancy says. “We did have to change the ceiling height where the two condos joined to make the space look like it had always been open.”

The Groetkens also repurposed several areas throughout the 4,100-square-foot home. A bedroom, for example, became the dining room, while the previous dining room was transformed into an office. After cabinets were removed and hardware changed, the former kitchen transitioned into a modern lounge complete with an Eames surfboard table and vintage chairs from that online mecca of unexpected finds: eBay.

There’s no doubt that the stylish, eclectic furnishings and fixtures are a visual extension of the Groetkens’ quirky, vibrant neighborhood. The décor also serves as a complementary backdrop to the true star of Nancy and Phil’s home: an amazing (and oh-so-covetable) art collection.

Pursuing A Passion

With a new abundance of wall space, Nancy and Phil decided to expand their art collection. They enlisted the help of Kim Weinberger, owner of Weinberger Fine Art, to help them discover new artists and work.

Kim Weinberger of Weinberger Fine Arts helped the Groetkens grow their art collection. The reason for their passion? They simply like living with art, Nancy says. With works from Majo, Brady Legler and Michael Regnier mixed with more personal pieces, like a Photoshop image featuring their grandaughter driving a WWII tank, it’s easy to understand the appeal.

“When we went to meet with Kim, we said, ‘We aren’t art collectors, but we want to have art in our home,’” Nancy says. “And we wanted the art to be local. We’ve really grown to appreciate how artistic the Westside and Crossroads are and know how much talent is in the city.”

Yet buying art is a process that takes time—and in Nancy and Phil’s case, they presented Kim with an initial visual challenge.

“When Kim came to see us, I told her I don’t have white walls—whatever we choose will have to go on the saturated, colorful walls,” Nancy says. “And she said, ‘I love that kind of challenge. I’m sure we can find something.’”

Selecting works of art for the Groetkens’ condo proved to be a challenge since the home features uniquely colorful walls, but the bold pieces chosen, such as Majo’s “Siempre,” fit right in. The couple was so pleased with their collection they invited the artists responsible for the works over for a cocktail party so they could see their pieces on display.

Nancy and Phil find themselves largely drawn to what Nancy describes as “big, abstract, bold pieces,” visual statements that blend seamlessly in the colorful interior. Through Kim’s expertise and introductions, Nancy and Phil soon amassed work from a variety of artists, including Majo, Michael Regnier, Brady Legler, Mark Westervelt, Barry Eisenhart and Jodi Lightner, to name a few. The Groetkens’ home also includes some unexpected pieces, including a black and white photo that was a collaboration between Nancy and Phil’s daughter and a friend who Photoshopped the Groetkens’ granddaughter into a WWII tank as the driver.

“It’s fun to have fun with art,” Nancy says. “It’s not stuffy or formal.”

Nancy and Phil had just as much fun figuring out how to display the art in their new space. And although artists don’t typically get to see how a particular work looks in someone’s home, Nancy and Phil wanted to give them a chance to see the final result.

Two small Stephen T. Johnson pieces hang on the wall in the sitting area, which also features a George Nelson “Coconut” chair acquired from Chicago midcentury modern auction house Wright, owned by Nancy’s brother-in-law Richard Wright.

“We had a cocktail party and invited the artists over after we finished the addition,” Phil says.

During the party, Nancy and Phil realized they had a previous connection with one of the artists.

The bold and colorful interior spreads to the sprawling patio with chartreuse and mustard accents paired with sleek shades of gray.

“We love Michael Regnier’s work and had seen some of his pieces in the Napa Valley, but we didn’t know it was his,” Nancy says. “We looked at this great scene of a vineyard shown in a panoramic view that showed all four seasons and we thought it was amazing.”

Once they met Kim, she mentioned she wanted to show them some of Michael’s work, which immediately reminded Nancy and Phil of the photograph they’d seen in California. And after a quick chat with Michael, they realized the piece they’d loved so much was, in fact, his, a discovery that brought Nancy and Phil’s connection with Michael’s art full circle. Despite having accumulated an enviable collection of artwork (not to mention an amazing home in which to display it), Nancy and Phil don’t necessarily consider themselves collectors. Instead, their connection to art is something more personal.

Nancy and Phil Groetken relax in the living room of their Kansas City Westside neighborhood condo.

“We’re not collecting art for the various reasons that collectors do – investment, etc.,” Nancy says. “We live with the art, we like living with art, and I think that’s what really prompted us in the first place, as opposed to a desire to intentionally collect it.”

See more photos of the Groetken’s home redesign in the KC Magazine July digital edition.