Hickman-Vaia Residence

Location
Des Moines, Iowa
Year
2013
Size
2,560 SF

Client
Tim Hickman & Frank Vaia

Project Team
Tim Hickman

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture
Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Hickman-Vaia Residence

The Hickman-Vaia Residence, a mid-century gem built in 1956, had undergone a series of changes that moved it away from its original character. The current owners sought to revive the spirit of the 1950s while modernizing crucial spaces like the kitchen and bathroom. Challenges included an underutilized interior room, mismatched flooring, and dated, cramped bathrooms.

The renovation ingeniously relocated the stairway into the underutilized interior room, freeing up space for an extended kitchen designed for both daily use and entertainment. A focal point is created in the living/dining area with a book-matched granite wall that pays homage to Mies van der Rohe. 

The kitchen itself transforms with epoxy-painted steel backsplash doors that lift to reveal vibrant yellow glasswork cabinets. The flooring was unified with refinished white oak, extending into the kitchen and former stair space. Two small bathrooms were merged to form a spacious, glass-tile-clad sanctuary, complemented by sleek, white plumbing fixtures and custom mirror-doored cabinets. All these changes are delicately balanced to evoke a sense that they could have been original to the home, achieving a modernized nostalgia that satisfies both form and function.

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Looking to kitchen - before

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Original kitchen - before

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Construction - removing original stair

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Construction

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Construction of frame to support granite wall

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Floor plan - before

Hickman-Vaia Residence – Substance Architecture

Floor plan - after

Consultants

Structural Engineer
KPFF (formerly Saul Engineering)
General Contractor
M.D. Eggers Construction

Photography by Paul Crosby