Design & Remodeling

Taking a Modern Stance

This contemporary home proudly stands out in a traditionally styled Parkville community.

Story by Brooke McGrath  |  Photos by Matt Kocourek

It’s not a typical home built in Riss Lake. Largely comprised of luxurious homes featuring Old World craftsmanship, this lakefront community in Parkville welcomed a new addition in a refreshing modern-designed home. In a cozy cul-de-sac off of the main street, you’ll easily spot Mark Sumada and Pam Baker’s clean-lined abode, with low rooflines, big eaves and a cool color palette. Funny thing is that this home was originally designed years ago to be Tuscan in style.

Since owner Mark Sumada, owner/builder of Suma Design & Construction, occasionally uses his home as a showpiece for potential clients, he included standard kitchen elements found in many of his new-build jobs, including all soft-close cabinetry doors and drawers, stainless steel apron-front sink with Kraus faucet, pull-out trash can in the island and a pull-out spice rack by the range.

In 2007, Sumada, owner/builder of Suma Design & Construction, originally designed the Madison, a reverse floor plan, as the American Cancer Society’s Dream Home for a lot in Shoal Creek, featuring a Mediterranean look and feel, but, due to the economic downturn, the house never happened. It wasn’t until years later that Sumada and Baker decided to build the same floor plan—but in a design aesthetic that appealed to them: modern. Baker, a Johnson County girl who was ready to build her dream home, fell in love with the lake and surrounding wooded area of Riss Lake, where Sumada had a vacant lot, seemingly waiting for them. At 4,000 square feet, his floor plan also conveniently fit on the lot.

Since it stands out from the norm in the area, they get frequent requests to tour the home from passersby. “It’s transitional in style, clean,” says Sumada, whose company is known for building modern homes throughout the area. “We started concentrating on lighting, the scissor doors, things that make a house comfortable.”

Both inside and out, cable railing “is so much cleaner,” Sumada says. “It has that flair
for the modern and allows you to look through the house without distractions, making the woodwork stand out.”

If the exterior didn’t immediately give it away, the custom-made alder front doors with textured glass insets surrounded by light-enhancing square windows with clerestory above is an immediate nod to the contemporary design found within. A similar window design was carried through to the back of the house, overlooking the wooded lake lot, permitting an abundance of natural light and staying consistent with the initial design.

In the entryway, Sumada had a statement mirror, one of Baker’s favorite decor pieces, framed in a custom display and backlit with LED lighting (as is all the lighting in the home). It’s a prelude of sorts to the type of custom pieces found in the rest of the home, such as the linear fireplace with floating hearth and shiny, floor-to-ceiling porcelain tile surround, a design element that Sumada’s currently integrating into his build jobs.

Another up-and-coming trend, his 12-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall accordion-style doors, or scissor doors, as he calls it, makes way to the covered lanai, overlooking the treetops, with seating and built-in planters. Once those doors open up, “the great room has now become twice as big,” he says. Even the smallest potted plant gets Sumada’s undivided attention and expertise, as his first job (back in the late ‘60s) was as a landscape designer. But his skills don’t stop there; he and Baker also share the cooking duties. He’s all about living on the main level, so in his open-concept plan, the great room spills into the kitchen, and, in this particular home, it’s the favorite for many reasons.

As in most homes, the kitchen is where the home tour begins and ends. With so many details to take in—and its direct access to the screened-in porch—the kitchen’s clean, classic design and quality materials shine within a functional layout. “We’re not over-the-top people,” Sumada points out as he walks into the kitchen. “We kept things kind of simple, uncomplicated, with a few added bells and whistles.”

All GE Monogram appliances, though big and beautiful, are surrounded by sleek glass tile backsplash, Quartzite counters and crisp white cabinetry. Above both the buffet and wine bar, which houses one of Sumada’s favorite things in the whole house, the built-in ice maker, glass-front cabinets illuminate delicate dinnerware and glassware, while the cabinetry flanking the range stands out in a stained umber trim. The tray ceiling inset is walnut, as is the flooring and island base (though stained), matching and contrasting with surrounding Italian furniture pieces—Cattelan Italila white leather bar stools and dining table and chair—they found at High Point Market. As if that isn’t trendy enough, the kitchen backs up to his-and-hers garages.

A second accordion-style door unit, which is left open more often than not, makes way for before- or after-dinner drinks on the four-season screened-in porch. To fulfill its year-round purpose, it comes fully equipped with an open fire pit (putting out 50,000 BTUs); a radiant heater; Janus et Cie luxury outdoor furniture, where Sumada tends to take cat naps; and sleek orange side chairs, a welcome find at Tuesday Morning. And, it just so happens to be the gathering spot of choice for the Chiefs game. But once the fun subsides, more apt rest is found in the custom master suite.

The lower level features its own array of well-done detailing, including the stacked quartz stone surrounding the TV area with built-in art niches.

The master bed design is Sumada’s, featuring carpet inset within the hardwood floors, a linear design element that wraps up the wall, backlit with LEDs, and across the ceiling, resembling a modern-day canopy. “It allows light to filter into the room, but it’s not bright, so you can read at night,” he says of the backlighting. The beams of light in the ceiling, however, provide efficient accent lighting.

Verticality flows into the master bath, with columns created to hide plumbing in the shower then replicated as a design aesthetic, thanks to Baker, around Sumada’s custom-designed his-and-hers vanities. Each vanity showcases a recessed granite counter, sleek pendant lights and slender mirrors that stand off glamorous glass tile. Sans a door, the open wet area, in all its shiny tile glory, includes dual shower heads and a sunken Jacuzzi tub, per Baker’s request, and walks directly out onto heated tile floors. Her adjacent built-in makeup station includes custom pull-outs and organizers and is conveniently located next to the walk-in closet, with access through to the laundry room and on out to the office.

The lower level, used to house overnight guests, is equipped with its own small bar and entertainment space; patio; three guest bedrooms, with an optional fourth presently used as storage; and additional storage space beneath Baker’s garage. The main showpiece on this floor, perhaps, will be the soon-to-be-completed wine cellar with suspended stainless steel cabling for wine bottles on display via a glass wall.

While the contemporary aesthetics and overall functionality of Sumada’s home designs give him more than enough to contend in the local market, especially with the expanding popularity of modern design, he also takes pride in integrating the best technology available, which is why each of his homes comes fully equipped with USB outlets, Ethernet and Google Fiber wiring.

“We try to be ahead of the curve rather than behind the times,” he says. “Our houses are all Google-friendly.”

But, wait, that’s not all. “The whole house has Control 4, an integrated lighting system,” Sumada explains. “You can control all the lighting (and thermostat and sound) in your home from your iPhone from anywhere in the U.S., even the exterior lighting. If you find out your kids are having a party, you can shut the whole house down.” Ironically, there’s even a party mode, which Sumada has yet to use, to set the right mood.

But the right mood is exactly what Sumada set when he built this home for Baker, completed in May 2015, which is why she wouldn’t sell even after two generous offers were literally walked to the front door. Initially coined “her dream home,” Sumada’s taken quite a liking to the house, too.

Besides the ice machine, “I really love the scissor doors, being able to open them up and walk outside,” he says. “But also just sitting here in the kitchen, everybody is part of the house.” And with a special insulation package wrapping the home, he comments on how peaceful and relaxing it is here, with only the occasional sound of the humming wind in the background, hence his occasional cat naps on the screened-in porch.

It’s a good thing that he built Baker her dream home—an atypical addition in an overwhelmingly traditional community—as it has quite obviously turned into his, too. “I guess, you know what it is,” he says, as if finally coming to the same realization, “it’s home.”

Modern Tips for Modern Style

Looking to build a modern home? Here is Mark Sumada’s take on must-have contemporary elements that’ll really make the home stand out:

1)  Linear designs with simple elements
2)  Cool and sleek colors
3)  Linear fireplaces that reflect simple yet efficient styling
4)  Lighting that accents and enhances the experience and creates moods, not just light
5)  Wood and texture that add warmth and simple detail to the cool colors and simple design
6)  Spaces that complement today’s lifestyles, ones that interact with one another
7)  Technology that is ahead of its time, not the present
8)  Simplicity in a complicated environment that gives relaxation
9)  Quality that you expect today

Project Resources

Home designer/contractor: Suma Design & Construction | Lumber: Owen Lumber | Audio System: Audio Innovations | Roofing: Pyramid Roofing | Cabinetry: Shamrock Cabinets | Appliances: Factory Direct Appliance | Sprinkler System/Sod: Austin Farms Sodding | Hardwood Flooring: Kenny’s Hardwood | Windows/Doors/Interior Trim: Morgan Wightman | Garage Doors: Accent Door | HVAC: Midwest Heating | Plumbing: Robertson Plumbing | Tile: Emser Tile | Door Hardware: Locks n Pulls | Mirrors/Shower Door: The Hayes Company | Carpeting: Carpet Source | Electrical: Clayco Electric  |  Guttering: Royal Seamless Gutters | Lighting: Wilson Lighting | Painting: Millennium Painting | Insulation: Murray Home Insulation | Structural Steel: Jones Iron & Metal | Fireplaces: Midwest Fireplace | Stucco/Stone: Elite Stucco