745 Cella Road
Chris and Megan Frank love a good design project, whether it’s for a client of their advertising agency, Cfx Inc., or for their own family. The couple, who have two daughters, are often on the lookout for a house that needs TLC, and now that their home on the grounds of St. Louis Country Club feels finished, they’re ready to move on.
“We like to breathe new life into properties,” Chris Frank says. “We’ve done it multiple times, but this was our first home in Ladue, and we absolutely love the area. We wouldn’t dream of leaving the club grounds; it has our hearts!” While they plan on remaining close, they won’t be staying in their current William Bernoudy house, built in 1961. “We were attracted to the neighborhood setting, and of course the fact that it’s a Bernoudy, but also that it needed to be reinvented,” Frank says. “It was the perfect house for us; it was in immaculate shape but hadn’t been updated at all.”
Another couple actually had submitted a contract on the house while the Franks were out of the country, but the Franks didn’t give up. They sent a letter to the new owners and ended up buying the house from them shortly after their closing date. “That couple bought our old house a few weeks later! It just was meant to be,” Frank says. Wanting to honor the home’s history and integrity, he says they didn’t change the original footprint, but moved every interior wall at least an inch. “We worked with architect Mark Herman to pull the crazy ideas out of my head and bring them to life,” Frank says. “We put in all new plaster made on the property and new white oak floors stained ebony to look original. We painted the woodwork and added a saltwater pool surrounded by crushed granite slabs and glass rails from California.”
The Frank family lived in the house throughout the four and a half years of renovations. “For months, we had a hole in the floor with a ladder instead of a staircase, but you have to be able to see what’s happening every day. Details are important,” Frank says. The kitchen was redone to include four ovens, dual refrigerators and multiple dishwashers. “We entertain a tremendous amount, so the spaces were reconfigured to help with that flow, and we added a wet bar,” he says.
The house has great history: Eleanor Roosevelt once stayed there (the Franks named a room downstairs ‘Eleanor’s Room’), and a local hip-hop star stayed on the property while filming his reality TV show. “We replaced every hinge, faceplate and screw in this house,” Frank says. “It’s finished. The original owners came to a party when it was complete and told us we were what the house needed. That was the biggest compliment. We have loved living here, but we’re ready for our next challenge.”
Photos: Tom Chlebowski