That’s the owner’s description of the spectacular residence she and her family have enjoyed for the past 10 years. Custom-built and tucked into a lushly wooded cul-de-sac in Ladue, the 10,000-square-foot two-story is a showstopper – uniquely personal and reflective of the family’s many interests and multi-faceted lifestyle.
Now empty nesters, the owners are longtime St. Louisans and the parents of three grown children. The husband is a physician, and the wife’s former career in real estate is evidenced by her passion for design. Bustling with activity, the home continues to evolve on a near-daily basis, and a swarm of workmen is currently finishing off the lower-level entertainment area.
When preparing to build, the couple loved the location and wanted plenty of living space, but didn’t want to appear “pretentious.” As a result, the expansive residence is set well back from the street and thoroughly screened by trees. Architecturally, the central foyer plan offered a “comfortable flow” for entertaining, and the hearth room, kitchen and master suite were the owners’ priorities.
Beyond its functional, free-flowing spatial arrangement, there’s a reason this exquisite home has such a distinctive ambience. Every feature of every room has been meticulously selected by the wife, in collaboration with Susan Block of The Designing Block, interior designer John Moore and Gringo Jones’ Rod Nelson, who provides flowers and seasonal decorations. (She also credits her mom, an award-winning Georgia artist, for plenty of advice and shopping companionship.)
While it might be technically accurate to characterize the décor as eclectic, that would hardly do it justice. Acquisitions chosen for this home – many from the showrooms of North Carolina – are artfully blended with treasured pieces from former homes and an occasional item that simply caught the owner’s eye. “It’s a little contemporary here and a little 18th-century there,” she says, with a casual sweep of her hand. “If I see something I like and it will look good in the space, I’ll use it.” Far from a mélange of disparate elements, however, each furnishing, every detail, fabric and color, contributes to the home’s remarkably harmonious effect.
For example, the step-down, two-story hearth room (“the room we live in,” according to the owner) was designed around its Oriental rug, one of several favorite pieces from a previous home, including the Widdicomb coffee and library tables. In spite of its voluminous dimensions, massive limestone fireplace and soaring coffered ceiling, the space has a warm cozy feel, an atmosphere achieved with rich burgundy wallcoverings, plenty of comfy seating, wide-plank Brazilian cherry flooring and a writing desk and drum table from Maitland-Smith.
Open to the hearth room, the kitchen showcases vast expanses of custom Downsview cabinetry, traditionally styled and finished in a glazed buttercream tone. Topped with Gialla Veneziano granite, the 11-foot, bi-level island has an antique black base, prep sink and overhang for quick snacks. Integrated Sub-Zero and Viking appliances emphasize the streamlined, uncluttered look, and a built-in Miele coffeemaker complies with the owner’s preference for “nothing on the counters.”
The adjacent breakfast area overlooks the outdoor entertainment/pool complex, and casual meals are served on a white marble table – the first piece ever purchased by the owners.
A full wet bar with Black Galaxy granite countertops links the family spaces with the light-filled, two-story great room, where the sophisticated gold-and-silver color scheme was inspired by renowned jeweler David Yurman. The deep gold, hand-painted faux wall treatment continues into the ceiling coffers, and a soft metallic sheen adds interest to the upholstery of the sofa and diamond-patterned side chairs. Among the wife’s many intriguing “finds,” an accent table at one end of the sofa is draped in gold leather.
Flanked by large signed Chagall prints, the imposing fireplace is finished in black with bronze accents, and a massive mirror extends to the ceiling. In striking counterpoint, the opposing wall is blanketed with an array of traditional oil paintings, and a Maitland-Smith breakfront displays a collection of Kentucky Derby glasses dating back to the 1940s.
Keystone architectural windows, a white-trimmed, triple- tray ceiling accented in cocoa, and silk moiré walls create an elegant setting for the formal dining room. The owners’ second acquisition as a young couple, all of the major pieces are Henredon, including the buffet, inlaid dining table which seats 10 and the china cabinet set in a specially built alcove. Contemporary urns perched on black granite pedestals and a mixture of antique and contemporary glassware further illustrate the wife’s knack for combining period styles.
The third “priority” space, the lavish main-floor master retreat occupies a full wing of the home. Hummus-toned walls establish a serene background for the gold silk balloon drapes and valances; Maitland-Smith bed, commode table and chest; antique French prints; and Fine Arts chandelier and sconces. The surprising twist comes when the owner clicks a remote, transforming the gilt-framed, two-way mirror above the fireplace to a large-screen TV!
Spacious his-and-her closets flank the barrel-vaulted hall to the master bath, which revolves around a columned, step-up Roman tub that backs to a huge walk-through glass shower enclosure. The cream, white and gold French provincial décor is the wife’s tribute to a fondly remembered stay in the Paris Ritz-Carlton. “I wanted to feel like I was in the Ritz-Carlton every day of my life,” she says with a smile.
On the home’s upper level, the secondary bedrooms are all en suite and more evidence of her aesthetic flair, particularly in the striking black, white and silver palette of the bedroom depicted. The black leather Ralph Lauren sleigh bed is complemented by a candy-apple green settee, 1960s-vintage stainless floor lamp, contemporary acrylic ceiling fan and the bold-yet-traditional pattern of the custom bedding and window treatments.
Beyond its sheer beauty, what makes this residence so extraordinary is the astonishing amount of time, care and creativity that has been devoted to every detail. Refined yet comfortable, the owner’s tasteful synthesis of long-cherished furnishings and artwork with au-courant styling is a dazzling salute to her family’s individuality.