Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time

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By Allie Weiss / Published by Dwell
Working part-time from a tiny studio building, architect Chris Fein redesigns dwellings from a range of eras.

In our upcoming September issue, we visit the midcentury residence that architect Chris Fein renovated for his family in Prairie Village, Kansas. On his property sits a small studio, where Fein spends about half of his working time (his three-person practice, Forward Design | Architecture, recently relocated, but Fein still does a significant amount of his design work here). Here, we provide a glimpse at the creative outbuilding and a survey of the firm's recent residential projects. (Fein founded the practice in 2011).

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 1 of 10 - Fein designed and built a 120-square-foot structure on his Kansas property to serve as a studio space for him and one other employee when the firm was starting out. 

Fein designed and built a 120-square-foot structure on his Kansas property to serve as a studio space for him and one other employee when the firm was starting out. 

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 2 of 10 - The space holds a library of books and a work table for two.

The space holds a library of books and a work table for two.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 3 of 10 - In Leawood, Kansas, Forward Design | Architecture redesigned a kitchen and family room in a traditional home, creating a bright and minimalist space that takes cues from the residents' contemporary furnishings.

In Leawood, Kansas, Forward Design | Architecture redesigned a kitchen and family room in a traditional home, creating a bright and minimalist space that takes cues from the residents' contemporary furnishings.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 4 of 10 - The renovation dramatically increased natural light in the rooms and replaced tired finishes with a modern palette.

The renovation dramatically increased natural light in the rooms and replaced tired finishes with a modern palette.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 5 of 10 - Fein also renovated the kitchen in a 1930s bungalow in Kansas City, Missouri. The countertop of a custom cabinet creates a breakfast nook at one end.

Fein also renovated the kitchen in a 1930s bungalow in Kansas City, Missouri. The countertop of a custom cabinet creates a breakfast nook at one end.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 6 of 10 - Another custom oak unit houses the oven, range, refrigerator, and pantry.

Another custom oak unit houses the oven, range, refrigerator, and pantry.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 7 of 10 - Fein was tasked with reimagining a master suite in a ranch house in Mission Hills, Kansas. A wall of handleless cabinets serves as the closet, subtly dividing the space from the bath area.

Fein was tasked with reimagining a master suite in a ranch house in Mission Hills, Kansas. A wall of handleless cabinets serves as the closet, subtly dividing the space from the bath area.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 8 of 10 - From the shower, on the other side of the partial wall, the original vaulted ceiling is visible.

From the shower, on the other side of the partial wall, the original vaulted ceiling is visible.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 9 of 10 - In a 1960s house in Overland Park, Kansas, Forward Design | Architecture remodeled a kitchen, family room, and mudroom. Walnut cabinets integrate the appliances to create a seamless look.

In a 1960s house in Overland Park, Kansas, Forward Design | Architecture remodeled a kitchen, family room, and mudroom. Walnut cabinets integrate the appliances to create a seamless look.

Rebooting One Kansas House at a Time - Photo 10 of 10 - Transitioning from the eating bar, a wall of bookshelves carries through the space.

Transitioning from the eating bar, a wall of bookshelves carries through the space.