In 1972, the 2-acre plot of land off of 88th Street and Pioneers Boulevard was more rural than city.
Nearby Firethorn and Hi-Mark golf courses were a long way from being groomed fairways. Prairie grasses -- not manicured greens -- grew in the area.
But Deon and Susan Bahr felt it was the perfect spot for them to build a house for their growing family. And it was growing, with Susan going into labor with their second child on the day digging started.
As an architect, Deon was fulfilling one of his design dreams. He calls it “Bahrhousen” and sometimes refers to the concept as a modern, two-story “exploded box.”
Basically, it was a box, Deon said, with the “intrigue of a porch and with stairs that punch out.”
The house at 4144 S. 88th St. is a part of the Architects’ Home Tour, which will run from 1 to 4:30 p.m. next Sunday. The tour will feature five architect-designed homes.
For the Bahrs, the idea was to have a relatively small footprint with the ability to change and adapt to their lifestyle. From housing a young family to later adding Deon's over-the-garage art studio for his retirement, it was designed be able to bend and be flexible over the years.
And although the idea of an energy efficiency home and living “green” wasn’t trendy then, this house would be built with those ideas in mind.
The exterior included a low-maintenance cedar, which has weathered over the years.
The natural landscape requires minimal care -- there is no watering, mowing or fertilizing. Susan’s small entry garden is done with plants commonly found in xeriscaped (low maintenance) settings.
Many original windows have been replaced with energy-efficient double and triple-paned products, and a new HVAC system helps keep heating and cooling costs down.
The Bahrs were part of a planned neighborhood. Sixteen acres -- eight two-acre lots -- were established. Forty years later, five of the eight original owners still are living there, Susan said.
“It is a very stable neighborhood,” she said with a smile.
Longevity is a recurring theme in this house. Good design, after all, has no time limit and all furniture purchases are carefully thought out so they will continue to function for years.
“We like contemporary classic furniture,” said Deon, as he sat in a leather and wood Eames lounge chair. Also in the living room is a Knoll-designed couch and Platner table. “It’s all about design. We buy forever.”
Two major redesigns have occurred since the house was built. The master suite gained extra square footage when an open ceiling from the first floor was closed off. The Bahrs also combined upstairs bedrooms into one large office/living area by removing a wall.
Other changes happened outside. Most notable is a 2002 addition of a 1,000-square-foot studio/screened-in porch built over the garage. It was in the master plan from the beginning and is where Deon fuels his creative side. Since retiring, he works on painting and sculpture projects he refers to as “Bahrart.”
Another design-compatible structure is a garage/storage unit built with recycled materials and done at 45-degree angles to create an illusion, Deon explained.
More changes are on the horizon. The possibility of an elevator is something Deon has explored and then there is the option of a “bridge” from the second story directly to his studio.
As an architect/artist, the design possibilities just keep forming.
“I always tell young architects to design a home for themselves,” he said. “The ones that do feel very connected to their space.”