Book Designers Share “Literary Nouveau Style” in Kansas City
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Name: Kevin Barrett Kane and Emma Christine Hall
Location: Volker Neighborhood — Kansas City, Missouri
Size: 1200 square feet
Years lived in: Renting 1 year
Kevin and Emma, book designers behind the company The Frontispiece, share a warm, comfy home in Kansas City. “Literarian Treehouse Nouveau” is how they describe their style, and they’re also self-proclaimed collectors. You’ll find furniture, desks, vinyl, cats and of course, books. As Kevin writes: “We find the quality and function of an object is directly linked to its aesthetic. For many things—from technology to art supplies—the search for that aesthetic can require buying a new product. For others—like books and furniture—there are periods of time in which the quality of those objects’ manufacture was at its peak, and so we strive to collect from that time, or its equivalent in quality.”
From Kevin: “We own and operate an independent book design agency from our apartment in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri. Naturally, we collect type writers, cameras, red tea kettles, prints and artwork, vinyl, and books…lots and lots of books. We love our apartment — it’s a remodeled barracks-style 2nd floor flat with wood floors and beautiful lighting. It may come with the profession, but we’re obsessively clean and neat, and the space is a projection of our love for straight lines, bold colors, and simple aesthetics. We are joined here by our two feline friends, Dumpster Cat and Struggles (both of whom have lengthy and appropriate origin stories).”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Meticulously Organized Clutter
Inspiration: Resourcefulness, functionality, and memory
Kevin – Bang & Olufsen Beogram 5000 (a gift from my father—hardly ever used before we got it, and the best condition of this model I have ever seen—even on the big ol’ internet. Those styluses cost hundreds of dollars to replace, and the internal light…? ugh.)
Emma – 1906 Singer Cobbler Sewing Table and Machine from Germany
Kevin – Keeping all the books straight.
Emma – Making it “ours.”
What Friends Say: “You didn’t have to clean for us!” (In fact, it’s always clean. Kevin has an obsessive personality.) “You guys are so adult!” and “Can I have this?”
Biggest Embarrassment: Cat scratches all over the couch.
Get the look! → Bold, Neat & Clean
Proudest DIY: The office shelving and organization.
Biggest Indulgence: BOOKS (Not even a book design agency needs this many books about book design).
Emma – Don’t take being asked to clean up personally.
Kevin – Present cleaning up as a solution, and come up with long-term systems to maintain cleanliness. Don’t just tell people to be cleaner—work with them on how to be cleaner. For Em and I, it was about creating catch-alls. For me, everything I own has a place—whether it’s a hook, or a bin, or a spot on a table—but for Emma, she likes to “unlock and drop” as I say. We came up with a series of catch-alls near the entry way to combine the sweet relief of coming home with my need for organization.
Dream Sources: Kansas City is full of amazing antique stores—beyond the museum that is River Market Antiques, where we acquire many of our collectable items, Urban Mining has an incredible selection of mid-century modern furniture, but is only open once a month! Architectural Salvage is another KC dreamscape, but is better suited to those who own homes and are looking to replace or reuse old house parts (and an elevator cage!).
Thanks, Kevin and Emma!
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