It's a big thing for a Kansas City resident's home to be featured in the pages of Architectural Digest, the ne plus ultra of glossy shelter magazines, which tends to focus on big-name subjects: celebrity designers and architects doing magnificent work for their celebrity clients. Or just the celebs, like Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig profiled in "A-Listers Discuss Their Favorite Rooms."
In the 1970s, the magazine did a spread on the home of Shakespeare Festival founder Marilyn Strauss. But who was the last Kansas Citian to get the Architectural Digest treatment?
"I think it might have been the home of Eugene and Saurine Brown," says Zim Loy, the editor of Spaces magazine. "But that would have been a long time ago."
In this month's issue of the magazine, the featured design story spotlights the beautiful Plaza apartment of Hallmark executive David Jimenez.
The article, written by Patricia Shackelford, opens with a grand gesture: "New York has the Dakota, London has Albany, and Los Angeles has the El Royale. In Kansas City, Missouri, an exceptional example of elegant apartment living from days gone by is the Sophian Plaza..."
The Sophian, a 1922 Beaux Arts building across the street from Southmoreland Park, probably has less in common with New York's legendary Dakota than its much grander (and more socially desirable) neighbor near Loose Park: The Walnuts, built in the late 1920s. But the Sophian certainly has plenty of cachet as one of the more elegant vintage condo buildings on the east side of Main Street. Residents over the years have included the late restaurateur Tommy Macaluso, former Ingram's magazine editor Ann Wylie and Hallmark photographer Phil Smith, and interior designer Danie Dunn (who still resides in this building's former grand dining room). A less fortunate former resident was Jane Sophian, the widow of Harry Sophian, the man who built the structure, which reportedly cost a million dollars. Jane Sophian fell out of an eighth-story window in 1945, 18 days after her husband died of kidney disease.
According to Architectural Digest, Jimenez took seven months to renovate his new digs: "...the baths were modernized, and the maid's quarters became a peacock-blue dressing room. The outmoded kitchen was reborn as a sunny chamber with thick marble counters and glass-front cabinets. 'I wanted a kitchen that was happy and bright,' says Jimenez, who is an energetic cook and ingenious host."
In Kansas City, if you're an energetic cook, an ingenious host and have the kind of sophisticated taste that attracts Architectural Digest, you're a star.