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Take a look at this Kansas City home’s blend of farmhouse flair and modern lines - The Kansas City Star

Posted on 04 April, 2017 by Brandon H. Lewis
91 out of 100 based on 701 user ratings

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In the classic case of farm boy meets city girl, Ben and Jen Dohrmann founded a harmonious marriage, yet clashed when it came to home design.

“I would’ve gone ultramodern — clear everything, lots of glass,” Jen says. “But he was not having that. If it’s not cozy, it’s not home to him. And this is a family home.”

So like all good relationships, they met in the middle. They blended farmhouse flair with modern lines and created something that is all together their own.

The couple built their 1.5-story house about five years ago in Shoal Creek Valley in Kansas City for their family, including kids Makenna, 11; Bennett, 8; and Kennedy, 5.

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Dohrmann family, from left: Jen Dohrmann, Bennett, 8, Layla (dog), Makenna, 11, Nori (cat), Kennedy, 5.

Roy Inman

Naturally, a brand-new house feels somewhat modern, so Jen carefully selected finishes and fixtures that suited her special throwback criteria. For a rustic feel, she had some walls covered in country-classic wainscoting and barn wood. Industrial touches like the use of iron also lend a time-honored look.

“One of my favorite things right now is the Edison bulb,” Jen adds.

She hired a craftsman to create custom pieces she envisioned using old barn wood for a desk counter in the kitchen, as well as for a couple of sliding doors. “I told him I wanted light wood, with a little paint in it: Go. And he did,” she recalls.

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The rustic kitchen desk top merges perfectly with the contemporary appliances and cabinetry.

Roy Inman

The dining table and bench were custom-made using 200-year-old barn wood, and Jen got a bit of her clear furniture after all, in the surrounding chairs. Overhead, she selected an iron light fixture but balanced it with more modern glass pendants above the island.

Jen made sure to incorporate things from Ben’s home — a century-old farm in Iowa — such as a branded barrel and a rusty Tonka truck. “Who knows how many times Ben played on the gravel drive with that,” she says.

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A main floor bathroom door is from found metal and wood remnants and finished with a rusty look;.

Roy Inman

Yet, again she balanced those important mementos with inexpensive contemporary decor found at random retailers. “It all depends on what I find and love,” Jen says. “I love stuff that talks to you; I especially love animals.”

The couple’s art collection is a whimsical tour of the animal kingdom, from the farm to the wild, with a black-and-white portrait of a sloth and a pillow with a ram dressed in finery, for instance. A photo of donkeys above the living room fireplace mantel is an immediate conversation-starter for anyone who enters the home and the piece that inspired Jen’s design direction. “I saw it and I was done. I created my palette from there,” she says.

Recently, the Dohrmanns completed some updates, including ripping out carpet and replacing it with hardwoods, which are more likely to be found in an old farmhouse.

But the big-ticket change was finishing the basement, with seating areas, serving areas and a game area, plus a barre room with a pull-down Murphy bed for guests, a full bath and a play nook under the stairs.

At the center of the space is a full kitchen (minus a stove) for entertaining. It has an industrial vibe, with wood counters and shelves, subway tile, caged pendants and a pipe foot rest.

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The fully finished basment features a full kitchen and bar.

Roy Inman

“I wanted to feel like I’m going to a bar to hang out with my friends,” Jen says.

In fact, she took an idea she had seen out one night at a restaurant — a built-in booth — and installed her own version in one corner of the space, with a cocktail table near the media room. “It’s a way to still be part of the fun when my girlfriends are over and the boys are watching football,” she explains.

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A cozy basement nook.

Roy Inman

The kids surely have their devices and video games, but the TV is not often on in the family’s main living space; rather, they listen to the radio, in an old-school way.

And maybe this home won’t belong in their family through the generations like Ben’s family home in Iowa, but the Dohrmanns see it as a place to plant roots.

“I see us being here a really long time, and the kids coming home from college,” Jen imagines. “I love the neighborhood, the location, the whole thing.”

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