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While midcentury modern homes remain popular due to their open floor plans and window-filled designs that bring the outdoors in, original 1950s kitchens aren’t particularly functional for modern living and are typically one of the first spaces new owners remodel. Such was the case for Nick and Stephanie Maggio and their 1955 Kirkwood ranch.

The couple had been living in the Metro East when they discovered a Facebook page for local midcentury modern preservation group ModernSTL. They saw photos of what would become their home and decided to attend an open house. The original owners hadn’t even listed it on MLS at the time, but the Maggios knew it was too good to pass up and jumped at the chance to own the midcentury modern home they’d been dreaming of.

“We just loved the general form of the house, and the lot was really beautiful,” Nick remembers.

While the house had many positive attributes, such as the 1.3-acre wooded lot, walls of windows on both the front and back of the main living area and a floor-to- ceiling, sandstone fireplace wall, the kitchen was small, closed off and awkwardly laid out — not ideal for cooking, much less entertaining.

The previous fall, the Maggios had attended a house tour sponsored by ModernSTL in the nearby Sugar Creek Ranch neighborhood that featured the home of married architects Aaron and Jessica Senne, owners/principals of Studio Lark. The two couples met, talked and hit it off immediately.

“When we found this house, they were the first people we called because we loved their style and taste,” says Stephanie Maggio. They met with the Sennes before their closing date to start discussing ideas for opening up and remodeling the kitchen and adjoining spaces, beginning a process that took six months of design and a year of construction, completed earlier this summer.

Studio Lark began by having the Maggios complete a detailed, six-page questionnaire to get a sense of both what they wanted and didn’t want and to prioritize their goals.

“I love to cook, so I really wanted functional space in the kitchen and area for talking to and entertaining guests,” says Stephanie.

She got both in the form of a large, two-tiered center island with counter-level prep space and a raised bar lined with stools. Built-in bookshelves on one corner house cookbooks and add visual interest. Studio Lark encouraged the Maggios to use the interactive Houzz website to build idea books of the finishes and features they liked and might want to incorporate.

Studio Lark worked with Full Circle Design on construction and the fabrication of the custom walnut cabinetry. An entire wall of cabinets across one side of the kitchen has a continuous veneer across all of the doors for a truly seamless look. To complement the rich wood, they chose Allure quartz countertops in Crisp White, classic stainless steel appliances from KitchenAid and a Wolf cooktop with a Zephyr hood. A classic George Nelson Bubble lamp above the island completes the modern style.

Removing a wall that separated the kitchen from the dining and living area helped open up the once confined space. Original windows in the kitchen overlooking the wooded lot were replaced with a series of new Loewen Windows from Webster Window and Door, including a mitered glass corner that provides an uninterrupted and ever-changing view of nature.

Studio Lark also worked with the Maggios to redesign the foyer, hallway and bathroom immediately off the kitchen for better flow. The original space had a large, awkward closet and both the bedroom door and bathroom door opened directly into the kitchen.

“We eliminated the closet and inserted a coffee bar with a built-in broom closet and open shelving to screen the door into the bedroom from the kitchen,” says Aaron Senne. “We also reconfigured the bathroom into a more efficient layout and moved the door to function better with the bedroom.”

These changes allowed them to create a more private zone to the bathroom and the bedroom while expanding the kitchen.

“They were great about bringing in little details.” Nick says.

During the remodel, the Maggios found the home’s original slab wood front door with glass window inserts in the garage, so they had Full Circle Design restore and reinstall it.

Other updates they made to house included refinishing and lightening the original hardwood floors, installing new French doors from the living room out to the small deck and replacing damaged wood in the post and beam ceiling.

They infused the house with midcentury style including colorful artwork, modern lighting and vintage furniture. While old houses are never really “done,” the Maggios and their two daughters are now able to relax and entertain in their new home and kitchen, thanks to their collaboration with like-minded architects who became friends.

At Home: Midcentury modern in Kirkwood

Nick and Stephanie Maggio pose for a portrait outside their midcentury modern home in Kirkwood on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo by Cristina M. Fletes,

Nick and Stephanie Maggio

Ages • Both are 34

Occupations • Nick is senior art director at Kuhl/Swaine branding agency. Stephanie is an auditor.

Home • Kirkwood

Family • The Maggios have two daughters: Lillian, 8 and Penny, 5, as well as a dog, Popcorn.

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