An Eye (an Ear) for Style

It took more than a good eye for designer Tom Manche to transform Marci and Ralph Damiano's bedroom to a happy place. It also took a good ear.

By Barbara E. Stefano
Photography by Alise O'Brien


Known for traditional style, designer Tom Manche of Tom Manche Interiors in Clayton is still game for letting a client’s desires and individual tastes take him to new places. The key to ending up in a good spot is not just having a good eye, but in having his ears open too.

“If I listen to them well, which is my job, I should be able to go out to a showroom and choose fabrics they like and choose furniture,” he says. “I’m not one to barge in and tell someone, ‘OK, I’m going to do this and this.’ My belief is that it’s my client’s house, and I need to do what my client wants me to do.”

In the redesign of the bedroom in Marci and Ralph Damiano’s century-old St. Louis home, that meant preserving their bright, floor-length Moroccan window sheers and a vibrant Indian tapestry – a cherished wedding gift – both of which hung at the head of the bed in an otherwise neutral room. Manche, who previously had designed a bar room for the couple, first discussed colors with them, focusing on a window fabric that would complement the existing material.

“I didn’t necessarily want it to be Moroccan, but it had to work with those sheers,” says Manche. He selected a fun floral with ladybugs and butterflies to create a short jabeau. “It didn’t force me to make those sheers more important.”

However, the first elements of the room the Damianos saw during the redesign were the pale-blue walls and orange carpet that served as the groundwork to tie together all the other elements. “I wasn’t too sure about that at first,” says Marci, “but we trust him. It’s kind of like we’re blind in a way, and he’s got the vision.”

The Indian tapestry moved from the head of the bed to another wall, where its rich, warm hues would not be obscured by the sheers. Beneath it is a chaise lounge upholstered in a pale-green fabric featuring a pattern of white shore birds with bright-orange beaks. A second, rolled-arm bench upholstered in blue-dominant fabric sits at the foot of the bed. Orange decorative pillows sit atop both furnishings.

Manche topped the couple’s large sleigh bed with two orange and two green decorative pillows, and book-ended it with matching green table lamps. Finally, he incorporated an Italian light fixture the couple had had their eyes on, a nod to Ralph’s Italian roots. Out of place in the old color scheme, the floral-and-white fixture now fits right in with the playful colors and patterns that grace the space.

“You walk in and it’s just happiness and whimsy,” says Marci. “It’s a nice place to hang out. I’m turning in early just to spend more time in there.”

Designer, Tom Manche, Tom Manche Interiors, 314-993-2700