Do you believe in love at first sight? It certainly was the case for the owners of this Central West End property. Upon walking inside, they instantly knew they would call the nearly 120-year old house home. While it has traditional sensibilities, they brought their own unique style to the interior with modern touches and their extensive collection of local art.
What do you like about the CWE?
We love having everything at our fingertips. The area is very walkable, and you can easily access amenities like restaurants and grocery stores. It doesn’t feel like a city; it’s more like a small town. We live on a wonderful street and have a lot of opportunities to socialize with our neighbors. A lot of the construction was built at the turn of the century, so it’s like stepping back in time. The neighborhood is gorgeous all seasons, and we’re not far from Forest Park. It’s a little quiet, but we easily can get to exciting attractions.
What initially attracted you to the property?
We stumbled upon the house when we were engaged. We were planning to wait to buy a home together until we were married, but we instantly fell in love with this one. We’ve both lived in and always loved older homes, so we knew that was what we were interested in. It’s a Federalist house and very handsome from the street. We walked in, looked at each other and said, “this is our house.” We really appreciate all the details that went into construction, especially the woodwork, which had been untouched. That’s something you don’t always find in old homes.
Do you know anything about the home’s history?
We know what the neighbors have told us, but we haven’t been able to confirm much. The house was commissioned by a former mayor of St. Louis and built in 1904. An addition was later added in the 1920s. That’s about all we know.
Did you make any major changes to the property?
Our focus has been on touch-ups. We’ve painted everything and changed just about every light fixture. We’ve also completely transformed the backyard. Other than that, we haven’t had to do much. That’s another thing we loved about the house when we saw it. There wasn’t much we had to do to be able to live in it and be happy. We did have to buy a lot more furniture because it was bigger than we were looking for.
How is the home for entertaining?
With most older properties, there are a lot of smaller rooms, but this home has large spaces on the first floor. It’s great for entertaining, which is something we both love to do. We have regular dinner parties and have even hosted events with around 100 guests. We can have our friends and family over and everyone feels comfortable. When we showed the home to our families, they said they could see us entertaining here.
How would you describe your design?
It’s very eclectic; we like to mix traditional and modern. There’s a lot of classic design, but it’s paired with contemporary and mid-century prices. A big design element is our art collection. Charles Houska of the Houska Gallery is a friend, so we have some magnificent pieces by local artists. We tend to stick with neutrals for our furniture and then bring in color through the art and accessories.
Do any of the pieces have fun stories?
We got engaged before going to an art benefit at the Contemporary Art Museum. It was an off the cuff decision. We just talked and decided we wanted to get married, so we didn’t have rings prepared. At the benefit, we each bid on a piece that we had no expectation of winning, but we both did, so instead of rings, we had engagement art.
Did the age of the home impact your decor?
We wanted to keep everything tasteful and respect the house. We lived here for a while before we did anything because we think it’s important to get a feel for the space. So many times, you see great older homes, but the owners have turned the kitchen or bathrooms into something out of a designer showroom. It may look beautiful, but it doesn’t make sense with the house and won’t stand the test of time. You have to find the balance between respecting the home’s bones and making it your own.
Do you have a favorite room?
The living room feels like you’re in a library or gentleman’s smoking lounge. It’s mostly woodwork, but there also is a beautiful dark wallpaper with a metallic finish. It’s one of our favorite rooms. We also love the parlour at the front of the house. It’s quite the opposite of the living room. It’s bright and colorful, and we have a huge Peter Manion, who is one of our favorite local artists. It’s a great place to sit in winter and enjoy the fireplace and a glass of wine.