Situated at the apex of a cul-de-sac, this simple, straightforward house resolves the inherent tension of suburban living by creating a strong separation between public and private spheres.
On the street, the house appears as a modest, low-slung ranch that conforms to its suburban environment and neighboring houses. Privately, however, the house expresses an interconnectedness with nature that is transcendent, and in marked contrast to its public visage. The living room, which is oriented for southern exposure, features an uninterrupted row of large panel windows that presents a view of the outdoors of almost cinematic quality: natural light filtered through backyard trees and other vegetation, mediated by glass. In winter, as the sun arcs low across the Midwestern sky, the room is bathed in warmth cast from beautiful Philippine mahogany wall coverings. The five-foot wide roof overhang on the south side of the house acts as an aperture that cuts direct sunlight to the living spaces in summer, reducing heat, while in winter it captures the sun’s rays to warm the house. The quality of light, at all times of year, is sublime. Though the physical distance between the front and back of the house is a mere yards, the psychological distance is enormous.
John C. Morley, a KU professor of architecture, designed the house for A. William Kuchler, a renowned scientist who developed a vegetation map depicting pre-settlement ecosystems within the continental United States. Originally 1,200 sq. ft., the house received a Morley-designed addition in 1964. The proud second owners, Tom and Terri Harper, tastefully updated the kitchen in 2006 and are committed to retaining the integrity and spirit of the house.