owners revive a sustainable
Studio 804 house for
Words by Lisa Waterman Gray | Photos by Matthew Anderson
bright orange door welcomes guests to Buffalo House, an award-winning LEED-certified short-term rental home near the vibrant 39th Street neighborhood. It was built in 2009 by Studio 804, a program at the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design where graduate students design and build structures using energy and environmental practices, led by distinguished professor Dan Rockhill. Today, Mary Melot and Robbin Beebe own the progressive structure and stay there themselves when visiting local friends and family—but they also share the space through Airbnb. “We’re finding that many people are renting the space for special occasions, such as weddings,” Robbin says. The two-and-a-half-bath home accommodates up to seven guests. There’s a two-story, entertainment-rich living room and a loft workspace, too. A grassy quarter-acre backyard flanks lush, jungle-like surroundings where comfortable Adirondack chairs and a wood-burning firepit invite relaxation. “It is an urban, modern oasis that’s centrally located and close to everything, with nature at your fingertips,” Mary says
The couple purchased the property from its previous owners in early 2019, and restoration work began. They removed all external louvered wood shading planks and repainted the home’s flaking and rusting frame, then repaired the interior drywall seams and repainted the entire home. They still use the existing solar and wind turbine equipment, as well as the chimney circulation system.
The women painstakingly refinished the wood floors and kitchen island, hung wallpaper and refreshed the bathroom tile. They also replaced the boiler system for the radiant heated floors and re-epoxied the main level’s floors to their original high-gloss black finish.
Sleek, modern furnishings with a boho twist now fill the home—including a California wall bed for the loft, sourced from Mary and Robbin’s Arizona-based business, Wallbeds “n” More.
Custom buffalo heads accent the living room and a bathroom—thus, the name was derived.