I live in one of the oldest and most loved neighborhoods in Kansas City, Brookside. With tree-lined streets, grand old historic homes and an abundance of shops, restaurants and parks within walking distance, it makes for a desirable place to live. Houses are hung on to here. Buyers snatch one up and, in many cases, make it their forever home. As it is, the homes tend to age right along with the families who cherish them. Some age a little more gracefully than others, but it is often the ones who have seen better days that become the most interesting. What will become of these houses when they eventually do part ways with their owners?
What is becoming more of a trend in the neighborhood is the acquisition of these homes, who need a little more love, by investors who then bring them back to their former glory. Actually, most of the time, they turn out even better than before.
A home that fits into this specific description recently became available on my own street. Curiosity on the street had been high since the sale of this particular home as it hadn’t changed hands in decades. The stately old home, while kept quite tidy and neat, had not left the fifties in its style and décor. It was, as accurately as I can describe, a “time capsule” home. Neighbors on the block were familiar with the home and well aware of the scope of work that it so desperately needed. However, all who saw the home also saw the potential waiting to be revealed.
Yes, this project would be a daunting one. It was this knowledge that fueled the neighbor’s interest. Who would be ambitious enough to take on such a project? Who would be the one to bring this home out of the time warp in which it had been suspended for so long and usher it into a new era?
The answer to that question turned out to be Cody Brown and Tom Larkin, partners in a new home renovation company. So new, in fact, that they were still without a name at the writing of this post. That is until a late-night phone call from one Cody Brown himself with some exciting news. So, to my readers, I am proud to be the first to officially announce Cody and Tom’s newly minted company, E.G. Arlo – Historically Modern. I am so excited to be on the front lines with these two visionaries to introduce you to each and to follow along with one of their current home projects.
Photo: Anna Petrow
When I first met one half of the renovation duo, Cody Brown, he was exiting their newly acquired property on a wintry Kansas City afternoon. My first thought upon meeting him, I must admit, was that he seemed like a rather young guy to tackle such a project. Secondly, I noticed his well-manicured beard. Seriously, you would be hard-pressed to find a more well coiffed individual. So who was this young guy with the nice beard and what did this company have up their sleeves for the old house on the block?
Little did I know, at that first meeting, that only a short time later I would be sitting in the gorgeous studio and office space of R24 Studios in Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms not only discussing their plans for the home, but also talking about how I would become involved in covering the progress.
To kick-start this collaboration series I wanted to introduce you to the duo behind the curtain. Who is Cody Brown and Tom Larkin of E.G. Arlo, and what do they have in store for some of the great old neighborhoods of Kansas City? I recently sat down with Cody to learn more about his “story” and how he entered into the home renovation world. In our next feature I will introduce you to the other half of the company, Tom Larkin, to learn about his background and how these two men came together to form E.G. Arlo. And, since their new company name was given to me at press time for this post, we will let Tom tell the story of special meaning behind the company’s new moniker.
Photo: Brook Allen
Cody hails from a small Nebraska town and a family of 4th generation farmers. The family of “do-it-yourselfers” allowed Cody to be exposed to elements of design and construction at an early age. As a student at the University of Nebraska, studying interior design and business, Cody also honed his talent as an artist, creating paintings in his dorm room. He began taking his paintings to local interior design firms and selling them, quite literally, out of the back of his car. As the interior designers took notice Cody’s clientele increased, thus allowing his business to grow into another creative outlet, furniture making and chandelier design.
With his business expanding, Cody had a vision to create a home brand based around his design aesthetic. Taking a permanent marker to his cinder block dorm room wall, (an action that Cody says, in hindsight, probably wasn’t the best idea) he sketched out the logo that would become the identifying symbol for his future home brand company, R24 Studios.
The origin of the company’s name comes from Cody’s Nebraska roots. The farmland in which he and four generations of family grew up, lived and worked is located on County Road 24. The name, R24 Studios, Cody says is, “a homage, in a subtle way, to the people I love that taught me what I know, and molded me into the man I am today.” In 2007 Cody, with the help of his business-savvy mother, officially launched R24 Studios.
Three years ago, Cody relocated his business from Omaha to Kansas City. He was struck by the sense of Kansas City pride exhibited by the locals and by the movement of arts and culture that was growing and shaping the city. “You could see the changes were happening in the city and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.
Continuing with R24 Studios Cody began a new endeavor with partner, Tom Larkin, in the acquisition and renovation of homes. Cody and Tom had known each other for several years and had worked together with their respective companies on other projects. Tom graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in architecture and went on to receive his Masters in environmental design from Michigan State. Tom’s work and experience in the architecture and real estate worlds were the perfect complement to Cody’s design and building background.
Home renovation projects appealed to Cody in that they allowed the self-described “modernist” the ability to design exactly the way he wanted. The homes that catch Cody’s and Tom’s eye are, “anything with historical charm.” They are drawn to homes with elements such as large front porches and original moldings and trim. Homes that have the potential to maintain their original look, yet can be adapted to allow for modern amenities suited for how we live today.
Photo: Brandon Sabiston
Cody noted that, oftentimes, older homes that are in need of modernizing are overlooked by buyers due to the size and uncertainty in potential problems the project could present. “Older homes scare people,” he said. “Electrical, HVAC, contractor horror stories and not having the resources to tackle the challenges scare people away.” Cody and Tom, however, enjoy the challenges and opportunities rehabbing an old home can present. They feel that in restoring these older, and at times neglected, gems a sense of community is built. At almost every project they have worked on, the neighbors eventually make their way over to visit and share their stories of the home. This is a part of the job they truly enjoy. To foster the sense of community even further, they host an “end of house” party in which neighbors are invited to the completed home to view the final result and visit with their fellow neighbors. “Most of these homes are around a hundred years old,” Cody said, “our goal is to redesign and rebuild the homes for the next hundred years.”
The duo has rolled into 2018 with an abundance of momentum with E.G. Arlo growing into more than either ever expected.
Additional projects in queue for Cody include a recent partnership with Menards as a spokesperson for a “Make It With Menards” advertising campaign and plans to make new large-scale artwork and expand his chandelier designs. You can view Cody’s work at, R24 Studios.
Stay tuned to follow along on E.G. Arlo’s latest exciting renovation project in beautiful Brookside. In upcoming posts in this series we will learn more about the home with “before” photos of it’s original condition, check in on the stages of the transformation and talk with Cody and Tom on the overall design process. This is one you won’t want to miss!