Eclectic Extravagance

Combining bold colors, patterns and textures, designer Jerry Birkhead's University City home shows off his signature style.

By Christine Soucy
Photography by Anne Matheis


Entering Jerry Birkhead’s home is an experience. The eye is attracted this way and that, attempting to zero in on one elaborate component or piece. When the realization hits that this is all but impossible, it’s necessary to relinquish control and revel in the extravagance. When asked to describe his style, Jerry ponders, “I’d say eclectic.” And eclectic, he is. Jerry's signatures are bright colors, antiques, crown molding and pillows.

The entryway to the Birkhead home is the perfect precursor to everything a visitor will see afterward. The wallpaper is a realistic fabric print with a real fabric trim. Jerry says he originally had fabric covering the entire wall but that it was damaged in a fire years ago.

Antiques are Jerry's clear preference. He says he frequents antique shops and estate sales to supplement his extensive collection. Opting for the details, Jerry chooses pieces with Old World character and has them reupholstered to fit into his bold design tastes.

Because of the sheer volume of pieces he owns, Jerry is constantly switching out rugs, coffee tables and especially pillows. Just this week, he changed out the pillows in the sunroom. Jerry has over 100 colorful and patterned pillows, a number that is constantly growing. When it’s not being used, everything ends up in the basement. “My basement’s full of junk,” he says with a laugh.

The living room takes Jerry's eclectic style one step further. On the ceiling is a beautiful circular crown molding piece. Molding embellishes the doorways as well. (Jerry says he added 10 pieces to the house’s existing crown molding.) The draperies are thick and multi-colored. Asian-inspired blue-and-white porcelain pieces dot the room, working surprisingly well with the zebra-skin rug under the antique coffee table. Jerry is not afraid to push the limits, a quality that has definitely worked to his advantage.

The home that everyone flocks to for the holidays, Jerry rolls out the red carpet, literally. He has a red carpet that he rolls down his front walk so that guests feel like movie stars when they arrive. He decorates for every holiday. This past Easter, there were elaborate rabbits everywhere. However, Christmas is a clear favorite.

The sunroom used to be a screened-in porch but was converted to a sunroom three years ago. Since then, he’s turned it into a quaint and relaxing space. He uses the copious amounts of natural light to influence the interior design choices. 

Jerry has been running his own interior design business since 1975, and clearly he takes his work home. His bold design choices and expert eye match the extraordinary together. Colors, patterns, textures, details and antiques magically work in unison.

Designer: Jerry Birkhead, 314-540-0767