Virtual Reality

Guided by 3-D renderings, a St. Louis couple could envision every finished space in their new home long before it was built. 

By Jeanne Delathouder

Design by Ellie Redders Interiors

Builder: Whalen Custom Homes

Photography by Megan Lorenz


When the sky’s the limit, building a custom home can get overwhelming without the proper guidance and expertise. Decisions become daunting, with endless choices of materials and finishes that might look good on paper but become overpowering or underwhelming in application. But through the marvels of technology, many home buyers can now walk through their new spaces before they’ve even been constructed. Such was the scenario for Jacquelyn and Mike Nolan, a young couple aspiring to build a sprawling ranch home nestled in a quiet cul de sac in south St. Louis County.

    Before a single brick was laid, they sat down with Ellie Redders to discuss the wants, needs, challenges and dreams for their new home. Owner of Ellie Redders Interiors, the designer and her team offer a state-of-the-art rendering service—the first of its kind in the residential market. Through virtual reality techniques, the homeowners were able to walk through each space of their home with the exact wall treatments, cabinetry and furnishings in place. They could feel what it would be like to live in the space before solidifying their confidence and finalizing key decisions. “I am not a huge fan of color—I prefer neutrals,” says Jacquelyn. “Ellie helped pull together different patterns and materials with unique textures throughout our home to add visual interest. Her 3-D renderings were extraordinary in helping make bold design choices easier to see and execute. They really give you a full picture of the home, including details that are hard to visualize.”

    Case in point, the splash of color selected for their dining room wallcovering made more sense when they could see it next to the black, white and natural wood color scheme of the surrounding rooms. The gold-finished plumbing fixtures were brought to life and complemented with antique brass lighting fixtures throughout. “And the bold veining of the island countertop wasn’t such a scary choice once seeing how it related to the overall design of the main living space,” explains Redders. “Throughout the couple’s 6,000-square-foot property, we applied a neutral color scheme with unique textures. Pops of color and pattern bring an element of interest and surprise throughout the space.”

    Built for an active family with young children and pets, the home’s overall functionality and durability were top-of-mind during the design process. Performance fabrics and scratch-resistant floors and countertops were implemented throughout. Focusing on her signature style and philosophy of “livable luxury,” Redders and her team believe beauty and functionality can go hand in hand. From her initial consultation with the homeowners, it was apparent they strived for the same idea of a beautiful, unique space that could also stand up to their busy lifestyle. “Homes are meant to be lived in,” she adds. “Drink spills, pet accidents, bumps to walls—all these things happen. As designers, our job is to find the best materials to stand up to ‘real life’ and look beautiful. Hickory wood flooring throughout the main level serves as a rich, natural foundation and a durable surface that resists the scratches of puppy nails and tiny Legos. Washable wall surfaces—vinyl wallcoverings, high-gloss paint finishes and woodwork—also elevate the design aesthetically as well as functionally.”

    Open without being too cavernous, the home’s versatile layout is perfect for a cozy night by the fire or a busy holiday party. Vast sliding doors and large windows allow seamless indoor/outdoor living. “The design is comfortable yet stylish. “It is the true definition of livable luxury that we strive to create at Ellie Redders Interiors,” says the designer. “We also love lighting. It is a kickoff point to our designs and helps create the mood we want to set throughout a space—it’s the jewelry for the outfit.”

    In the kitchen, four large black and brass pendants illuminate the double islands, setting the tone for the other public spaces that Redders calls “classic with flare.” A custom range hood accentuates the black and brass details of the island pendants. As with most homes, the kitchen is the heart, where the family does most of their living and where guests tend to congregate. The double island design allows plenty of prep surfaces while reserving space for other activities.

    A large floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace anchors the living area, creating a dramatic focal point. Soft, neutral furnishings and richly patinaed case goods create a calming ambience to contrast the kitchen’s active, upbeat vibe. And the dining room is all drama—with double chandeliers shimmering over a large wood table surrounded by leather dining chairs. A moody, deep teal wallpaper sets this room apart, creating a strikingly bold aesthetic for festive dinner parties.

    “The different materials used for the wall treatments add visual interest to our mainly black-and-white palette,” notes Jacquelyn. “The use of brick, stone and wood throughout makes the home feel very cozy.”

    The primary suite delivers the biggest wow factor when it comes to bold design. While keeping with the black, white and neutral color scheme, Redders and her team played with pattern and texture to create a one-of-a-kind look. Grasscloth-wrapped wall panels generate a unique visual element behind the bed, bringing warmth to an otherwise dark cave of a room. In the primary bathroom, towering custom-mirrored cabinetry, detailed metallic tile and a large double shower emanate a spa-like vibe. “With so many design elements, it would be easy for this space to feel chaotic,” notes Redders, “but the cohesiveness of the color scheme creates both a sense of boldness and tranquility.”

    Throughout the building process, everyone involved experienced several challenges, including time constraints, material shortages and supply chain issues during the tail-end of the pandemic. “The relationships built on the job site with the homeowners, the contractors and our design team were truly the most enjoyable aspects of this project,” says Redders. “As designers, being on site was key to developing trust among all involved and allowed for thoughtful and cohesive problem-solving. Everyone could perceive the vision and were eager to see it through until the last accessory was set.”

    “I enjoy the functionality of our home the most,” Jacquelyn adds. “It really works for our day-to-day lives. We spend a lot of great times hanging around the kitchen islands and enjoying our covered patios by the pool.”



Appliances: Ferguson

Cabinetry: Beck/Allen Cabinetry

Flooring: Reinhold Flooring

Granite Fabricator: K&D Countertops

Granite Suppliers: StoneTrends, Midwest Tile

Tile Suppliers: Tile Shop, Floor & Decor, ProSource, Midwest Tile

Wallpaper: York, Phillip Jeffries, Innovations