4 Under 40

SLHL's Rising Design Stars

These four talented young professionals are the people to watch in St. Louis, producing some of the most innovative and exciting projects in town. 

Edited by Maya Brenningmeyer

Photographed by Kim Dillon

Location: 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis

David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, The Way Out West, 2023. Site-specific commission for 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis. 

Serkan Ozkaya, O, 2023. Site-specific commission for 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis.

Photography by Kim Dillon


Sophisticated Style

Kathleen Grim, Srote & Co., Interior Designer, 7 years

"I feel like life in general and the journey itself is full of influences and opportunities for creativity and growth. This conversation is such a great reminder to reflect and practice some gratitude for everything that got me to where I am."

Dream to Reality

I don’t really remember a time where I wasn’t interested in interior design. My mom has these ceramic houses that she puts out at Christmas-time, and as a kid, I used to pick which window I’d want to be my bedroom and imagined what the inside of the house looked like (I usually picked the turret window). I was always interested in design, it just took me a while to figure out this could be my career!

A Different Lens

I love making a project specific to the client. How will they use the space? What are they interested in? Do they like to entertain? Once I’ve developed a relationship with the client, I see the world through different lenses of not just what I would like but what would make sense for them and their project.

Trusted Talent

One of my favorite things about being part of the Srote & Co. team is the trust in each other’s talents. Because we have architects, interior designers and a structural engineer all in one place, we can overlap in design phases. It has also greatly improved my overall knowledge base having access to this team. I can design more thoughtfully when I understand the reason behind certain logistical challenges and having this team a resource for my questions builds a stronger foundation for executing a clients’ vision.

Elevated Comfort

I love for a space to feel sophisticated, while still feeling homey and livable. One of my favorite things about being a designer is getting to play around with different styles depending on the project and the client, and not having to be locked into just one. But that balance between elevated and casual is a consistent theme.


Creating a Happy Place

Andrea Liston-Jones, Liston Design Build, Director of Design, 7 years

"In design, things are constantly changing and evolving, so finding ways to incorporate new ideas and trends while maintaining a timeless design aesthetic is critical. In any project I get to work on, my goal is to design a space that a client will love for years to come."

Family Tradition

Growing up in the house of a family business is what inspired me to pursue design as a career. As I considered my career path, I remember my dad telling me to find what I’m passionate about, and I’d never work another day in my life. From the time I was little, channeling my creativity to express myself, interact with people and have a constant challenge day to day is all I was looking for in a career, which led me to design. As the third generation in our family business, I am incredibly proud of Liston Design Build’s growth and how far we have come in the last 39 years in business.

Fostering Friendships

The close relationships that develop between our team and clients is what makes Liston Design Build special. Everyone on our team has the same goal, and we all work together to achieve great results for our clients. It is a collaborative process not only with our team, but also with our clients. Our clients know we have their best interests in mind because we work incredibly hard to serve them to the best of our ability throughout the design and build lifecycle.

Finding Balance

My personal style is just as heavily influenced by function as it is form. While I love clean lines, neutral and earthy tones, natural textures and some serious symmetry, ensuring that a design comes together to work for a family within their home is where my sweet spot lies. Of course, creating a beautiful space with jaw-dropping finishes is important, but it is just as important to find a balance in creating a space that functions great while thinking through things like family routines and everyday needs.

Seeing the Details

Thoughtful design is my biggest passion. There are so many layers and details that go into the design of a space, that many do not realize. You must find a way to marry colors, materials, textures and overall function and form of a space. Being a voice of reason and a trusted advisor to guide clients is essential for a successful design. Once you create that “happy place” for a client, the reward is tenfold. There is nothing more satisfying than designing a space that improves a client’s life.


The Perfect Balance

Chelsea Smith, Chelsea Design Company, Owner + Lead Designer, 10 years/In business for 7 years

"Design was a healing force in my childhood. It brought me comfort in times of chaos and helped me realize how much my surroundings influenced my mood."

Design Magic

I honestly adore everything about design. I love that it is a form of therapy and that it can rejuvenate your soul. A renovation of your home can single-handedly upgrade your everyday life. Design is a resolution to a problem. It is unbelievable what altering your environment can do for your psyche. I feel so passionate about it, I wish I could go into everyone’s homes and work my magic.

Built to Last

I don’t force my aesthetic, but instead help my clients discover their unique look. Our team appreciates all design styles and we enjoy practicing in different forms every day. Rather than weaving in my own personality, I seek to blend the traits and desires of the homeowners to generate something original that cannot be replicated. We ensure we are creating an environment that is reflective of those living there and how the space is intended to be used. Our goal is to build spaces that are stunning 100 years from now or would have been 100 years ago.

Function is Key

Function almost always follows form. We want the home to run like a well-oiled machine but look like a page ripped out of a magazine. My creative process doesn’t begin until we get to know the homeowners on a personal level. I also prefer to leave some breathing room in the plans so my clients can purchase items on their travels, replace the pictures in the frames and allow their designs to evolve with their ever changing lives!

Designing the Future

In five to 10 years, I see myself finishing a historical restoration of my future home in the city and planting fruit trees on my farm on the weekends. I’m looking to have an enhanced work-life balance where I spend more time traveling the world with my husband and two children. Interior design is my passion, but work is not everything. I truly believe in a healthy lifestyle that balances passion and relaxation, work and play.


Designed to Dream

Meagan Cooperman, C&M Interiors, Lead Designer & Studio Director, 18 years

"I am a firm believer in buying only pieces you love even if you don't know exactly where it will go. That is a motto I live by which allows you the freedom to discover your personal style."

Interior Intuition

I was interested in interior design before I even knew it by that name. For as long as I can remember I would walk into a space and rearrange it to what I thought it "should be" in my head. Any family member or friend that would let me rearrange their room or organize their closet was a win for me—I loved doing it and could not get enough. Once design shows started to gain popularity 

I realized that I could do this as a profession and I never looked back.

More Than a Feeling

I have the ability to create spaces that evoke emotion in my clients. Yes, it is important for an interior designer to make a space look amazing, but it takes true skill and passion to make a space feel exactly how the client wants it to feel even if they can't put that into words.  By working closely together, I am able to translate their vision into that feeling. The spaces I create strike the balance of function, beauty and that something special you can't quite put your finger on.

Local Inspiration

The biggest inspiration to me are the women in the St. Louis design industry that I've been lucky enough to work with and learn from throughout my career.  From designers to architects to cabinet makers to drapery fabricators, St. Louis is filled with so much talent. I've had the privilege of designing for women owned firms and collaborating with the ladies on my team is one of the best parts of my job. We are all moms who are trying to balance it all; having one another’s support is essential and so inspiring.

Function First

As exciting as it can be to jump ahead and think of the magazine worthy end result; it has to start with function. Walking through a space or floor-plan with a client to determine how they live; what’s working for them and what's not, is the foundation of the project. I truly listen to every detail of information my client can give me in order to deliver the best layout of their space.