Many homeowners don’t dare tackle the planning and research required when purchasing a teardown, but a St. Louis couple knew a teardown was just what they were looking for as they made the move from central St. Louis County to the hub of the city in Clayton. Previous residents of University City and Creve Coeur, Clayton appealed to them for its proximity to the Metrolink, restaurants and retail.
After searching for the right property with no success, the couple turned to architect Lauren Strutman. “Lauren suggested looking for a home with the back facing south,” the homeowner explains. “At her recommendation, we explored this orientation and found our home.”
The property was perfect. The back faced south, and the home had an alley in back, so they were able to use the whole lot. The existing Cape Cod was also on an ideal street. The homeowner drew an initial layout and also compiled a folder of tear-out sheets from magazines, as well as photographs that she and her husband had taken of other homes they liked. They handed the folder over to Strutman, who turned their ideas into an initial draft. “It was a great decision to hire Lauren,” the homeowner says. “She and her staff are very familiar with the Clayton area, and her ideas really fit with what we were looking for.”
Architecturally a turn-of-the-century Edwardian style home, the homeowners then brought in trusted interior designer Janice Rohan of Park Avenue Design, who they worked with in the past, to assist with the interior styling. “Janice helped determine the direction the interior of our home was going to take,” the homeowner notes. “She was great in making us edit our ideas to come together into a cohesive look.”
Classic and traditional with comfortable antiques and lush fabrics, the home is warm and welcoming. “We focused a lot on the finishes in the home,” Rohan explains. “The combinations and layers in the finishes take the home from super traditional to a more eclectic traditional.” Rohan was also instrumental in ensuring the millwork fit with the period of other homes in the area. She was so successful that many visitors don’t realize the home is a teardown. “It happens all the time,” the homeowner says. “I wanted people to come into our home and not know how old it is.”
One aspect of the design that was important to both the homeowners and Rohan was repurposing furnishings from the couple’s previous home. Using furnishings in new ways and in new spaces brings a fresh feel to the home.
An intricate tile motif greets your feet in the entryway. Designed on the smaller side with no room for furniture, the homeowners and designer knew the entry needed a design element to add interest to the space. Instead of a rug, a classic, North star motif, comprised of contrasting dark and light cut tiles, creates just the right amount of pizzazz. “We like to travel, and the motif resembles a compass rose,” the homeowner adds. “In fact, it almost exactly lines up with the orientation of the home.”
Just to the right of the entry, the dining room’s hand-painted wallpaper is a showstopper. The organic print reflects the homeowner’s love of gardening and nature, while the subdued colors pop against the soft, streaked glaze of the woodwork and trim. An antique chest from Clark Graves Antiques is nestled between two windows letting in abundant amounts of natural light. Lush, silk draperies perfectly complement the exquisite wallpaper.
Purchased in New Orleans, the antique 1800s French walnut dining table can open up to seat large parties or be closed in for more intimate gatherings. The frames of the Oly Studio chairs, covered in woven raffia, reflect a similar finish to the woodwork. A black opaline fixture from notable St. Louis artisan Bud Lewin lights the space and illuminates the delicate ceiling treatment, which is an applied silver leaf that is glazed for a burnished appearance.
Across the entry from the dining room is the library, which was inspired by a red room the homeowner saw in a magazine. “Janice helped me to find the inspiration from the room in the magazine and bring it to life in this space,” the homeowner says. The red walls are done in a Venetian plaster treatment and have a soft sheen against the rustic finish of the painted molding. A wool, needlepoint rug from the homeowner’s previous home pulls in all the right colors – camel, black, cream and green.
Rugs and fabrics were the basis for many of the room designs. "The homeowners both love fabric as much as I do," Rohan laughs. Woven, wool paisley window treatments dress up the windows in the library. In front of the windows, an antique sofa and matching chair found in St. Charles by the homeowner have been recovered. “I love buying antiques, but not the kind that are so precious that you can’t sit in them and enjoy them,” she notes. The two accent chairs placed between the built-in bookcases were lightly recovered in black and camel crewel embroidery done by hand on the back, as well as a cream and camel houndstooth fabric on the seat.
A smartly placed dry bar connects the library to the living room and provides a nice flow to the home when entertaining. Hand-trowelled plaster walls, a travertine floor and dark-stained ceiling beams enhance the Old World ambience of the living room. The crushed-limestone fireplace was made locally, and careful attention was given to the proportions. Two antique candlesticks decommissioned from a church in Europe and purchased in New Orleans sit atop the mantel. Also brought from the owners’ previous home, two sofas covered in a crisp cotton rayon face one another. “The texture on the sofas is beautiful and elegant against the texture on the needlepoint rug,” Rohan points out.
Other special pieces in the space include three Spanish leather panels that were once a large screen, as well as a Kentucky maple chest with an antique pitcher and bowl. While elegant and stylish for entertaining, the living room is all about bringing the outdoors in through two sets of French doors that lead to the covered patio and courtyard.
Designed for all-season use, the covered back patio is accessible from the living room or the breakfast room. Off the patio, steps lead to the picturesque, quaint courtyard that is masterfully planted and maintained by the husband. A custom iron trellis and archway by Perpetua Iron add interest to the space in the winter months when the garden is bare and can be perfectly viewed from the breakfast-room windows.
The breakfast room is a versatile space for both family dining and entertaining. Sheer drapes let in light from the courtyard. “The draperies add softness to the breakfast room and kitchen,” explains Rohan. “I think they also help to raise the style in the space to another level.”
Neutral finishes in the adjoining kitchen provide a calming effect. The gray-washed wood cabinetry complements the beautiful quartzite island top and hand-glazed, crackled porcelain splash tiles. A salvaged barn-wood countertop from St. Joseph, MO, brings in an element of texture.
Access to the second story is just off the kitchen. French doors lead to the peaceful master suite. The Oriental rug was the basis for the room’s design and is from the dining room in the owners’ previous residence. Two-toned silk draperies are a lush contrast to the neutral grasscloth wallpaper. An octagonal dressing and closet area with gray-mirrored walls connects the bedroom to the master bath.
Silk draperies, a black and pewter soaking tub and antique mirrors amp up the glamour in the feminine master bath. “I like to mix masculine and feminine aspects into all the home’s I design,” Rohan notes. "Part of the aesthetic of eclectic design is that you can marry different design elements even if you are not sure they mix well. It takes the experience of a designer to do it successfully."
Using their previous furnishings in new applications as well as mixing in new pieces, the owners of this classic Clayton residence were smart in their design. And after years of careful planning and construction, they couldn’t be more pleased with the final result. “This home truly exemplifies a successful collaboration between all parties,” the homeowner says.