An Expanding Portfolio

Portfolio Kitchen & Home expands its flagship store, growing as it stays true to owner Geri Higgins’ vision.

No, you aren’t imagining it: Portfolio Kitchen & Home’s striking and expansive showroom situated in the historic Pershing Building does emanate a certain glow. It’s part of a carefully designed look conceived to make the space feel inviting to everyone who walks through the door and steps into Portfolio’s world of interiors.

With its luxe vignettes and spectacular panoramic views of Union Station and other KC landmarks, CEO and principal Geri Higgins wants the flagship store to feel both aspirational and relatable, and she’s aided by a recent expansion that extends the showroom to the western half of the first floor.

“We were always known for our incredible kitchens and bathrooms, specifically our kitchens, but we’ve been doing complete projects, be it home or commercial, specifying everything from materials to furniture, complete concepts,” Higgins says. “We wanted to show a little bit of that process and how everything in a well-appointed home, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the rest of the house, should have this invisible thread, this continuity of style.”

The new space offers snapshots of a home while highlighting Portfolio’s extensive cabinetry, countertop, tile and appliance offerings. Glimpse through the window at the displays as you’re driving or walking by, and you’ll see a pro range, a butler’s pantry, a dining room overlooking a formal kitchen, a bathroom and a tub beneath a chandelier.

While the initial showroom primarily highlights kitchens through modern, transitional and traditional-style vignettes, the addition focuses more closely on bathrooms and other design features, including a mudroom that’s both functional and chic, and faucetry and plumbing, cleverly housed in a room entirely devoted to fixtures.

For Higgins and her team, perfection is in those details.

“Everything that touches a home should be elevated,” she says.

That elevation doesn’t have to come at a high cost. Higgins prides herself on Portfolio’s “good, better and best” offerings, available at price points to suit most budgets.

“Because of the way that we go to market, we’re so fortunate that we’re able to serve clients that are from our Brookside bungalows to multi, multi, multi-million dollar homes and projects,” she says. “Everyone has a place at Portfolio.”

Creating design that caters to clients isn’t just about the cost of materials; core to the business is Higgins’ client-centric approach to projects, which she says should convey the style of the client, not the designer. It’s a philosophy that many pay lip service to, but Portfolio’s success is largely built on Higgins’ almost superhuman ability to read a client and translate their aesthetic and design needs into a space that feels like home: beautiful but eminently livable.

When it comes to her own style, Higgins, a transplant hailing from Connecticut, has embraced the Midwestern sensibility.

“The Midwest has a very sophisticated, understated, warm way of expressing itself through design,” she explains. “Many times, that aligns with my design experience in the Northeast, that things can be stately but still be understated.”

Portfolio designed this sophisticated kitchen for a downtown loft, which nabbed the gold in the Craftsmanship category of our 2014 Design Excellence Awards.

Although the coasts get the lion’s share of the credit for driving trends, Higgins notes her sophisticated clients in KC and the rest of the region have always known what they wanted to communicate through design, as does Higgins with her showroom: a sense of her adopted home, in both new and familiar ways.

“There’s this undeniable element that is Kansas City,” she says. “That to me is very important. They know it feels different, but they also know it’s totally relatable. It’s undeniable. There’s something very Kansas City about how we do things, and that is very, very intentional.”

Also very Kansas City? Her quest for growth. Higgins doesn’t hesitate to say that she could always see herself and Portfolio in the impressive position they’re now in, even when the company started as a boutique design firm 11 years ago.

“Where we are right now though is not the pinnacle of what we’re trying to be,” she says. “Where we are now is the beginning to me. All those years were very, very important, but now we have something that we can really use as jumping point to a great future that is going to impact our client base and our community in very different ways.”

If it sounds like a grand view of design, that’s because it is: Your home has a major impact on your life and how you live and should be treated as such, in Higgins’ view.

“Design is not something where you should just go wherever it’s the most convenient to go,” she says. “We say design is a destination.” –Kelsey Cipolla