The Brookside Renovation Series – “A Conversation With Tom Larkin”

E.G. Arlo – Historically Modern, Kansas City’s new home renovation company, is quickly positioning itself as one to watch. Those who live and work in the beautiful Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City may already be familiar with their work, as they meticulously restore some of the grand old homes of the area and prepare them for a new generation of homebuyers. However, Brookside sees its fair share of home renovators and investors so what makes E.G. Arlo different from the pack? I recently sat down with Tom Larkin, one half of the company’s partnership, to find out just that.

Tom Larkin  &  Cody Brown of E.G. Arlo in one of their renovated homes.  Photo: Anna Petrow

Kansas native and current Lawrence resident, Tom grew up in the Western Kansas town of Garden City before attending Architecture School at the University of Kansas. Upon completion of his degree, he entered the Masters program at Michigan State University earning his Masters in Environmental Design with aspirations of becoming a golf course designer. Realizing this goal, Tom went on to design golf courses around the world in locales such as Portugal, Nicaragua and Korea. However, the constant travel became more difficult as Tom married and thoughts turned to family. So Tom and his wife made the move back to Kansas and Tom switched gears in his career by starting Foxtail Real Estate Co., a real estate management company working with residential, commercial and industrial clients.

Tom had met and worked with Cody Brown on past projects with their own respective businesses and, in partnering with him, “saw an opportunity to do something different.”

“I felt that we had complementary backgrounds that would work well together,” Tom said. “With E.G. Arlo, I have the opportunity to use my architecture background to work with our architects, conceptionalizing what we have to work with and what we want to turn it in to,” he said. Tom also handles most of the financial end of the business, which he laughingly says, “isn’t glamorous but is necessary.”

Once entered into their new business partnership, Tom and Cody faced the task of creating a name for their company. One that reflected their ideals and backgrounds. Hence E.G. Arlo came into being. The moniker of the new company has special symbolism for both. “E.G.” stands for “Edward Grant” which is the name of Tom’s father and grandfather. “My grandfather was very handy. A real DIY man who was a creator, did carpentry, and had the most organized tool shed in the garage that anyone had ever seen. He was also so likeable. He was very influential in my life,” Tom said. “And my father had his own business. I grew up watching how well he treated his clients and employees. This taught me the importance of how you treat people you work with. That has gotten me to where I am today,” he said. The “Arlo” in E.G. Arlo is an abbreviation for Arlington, the small Nebraska farm town in which Cody and four generations of his family worked and lived. Tom and Cody feel the name is a perfect tribute to the people and places that have shaped them into the men they have become, and that the name evokes “an old world feel,” as Tom says, that fits well with what they aim to create.

Photo: Anna Petrow

So how is E.G. Arlo’s approach to home renovation unique from others in the same business? From a personal perspective, as one who has seen firsthand the quality of their work and has had the opportunity to spend time with both Tom and Cody, you see a real difference in their passion for what they are creating. Theirs is not the mentality of “quick flip, fast profit.” Instead, you see that they care deeply about the history of the home and preserving it to the best of their ability, which oftentimes means more time and more work than originally anticipated. Tom and Cody are willing to take on the work and time to get it right.

“It is very hard for a young family to do these projects,” Tom said. “We approach the renovation as bringing this beautiful old home back to life and make it ready for the next generation to love it and live in it for the next fifty years.” Tom and Cody’s goal is to prolong the story of the house, a sentiment that resonates with anyone who is a lover of these amazing old historical neighborhoods.

When working on a project, they get involved in the neighborhood by talking to the neighbors and hearing stories of the home, an aspect of the job that both love. Tom said, “The more we learn about the house, the more it shapes us in how we renovate. It makes the home better.”

You will have the opportunity to see the quality of E.G. Arlo’s work for yourself, and what makes their renovations special, as we follow along with their latest Brookside project, the complete overhaul of a nearly one hundred year old home.

Photo: Courtney Payne

  Perched on a hill on one of Brookside’s lovely tree-lined streets, this home had been lovingly cared for by a previous owner for over fifty years. As nicely as it had been maintained, it had, as often happens, aged along with its owner. Stepping into the home was like stepping into a bygone era.

Photos of the early demo stage: Cody Brown

 Home décor updates were a must for any new potential buyer. In addition to a décor revamp, all that laid beneath (i.e. wiring, plumbing, duct work, etc.) needed attention as well. So E.G. Arlo literally “cleaned house,” pulling out everything and starting from scratch with just the shell of the home remaining.

Photos post demo: Courtney Payne

This home is now poised to receive the facelift of all facelifts with a body overhaul to boot! It is going to be quite a transformation!

Stay tuned as we dive into this massive and exciting project with E.G. Arlo!

-Courtney

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