From the Central West End to Lafayette Square, St. Louis is home to many neighborhoods with exciting histories, and downtown’s revitalized Garment District is among the most distinct. Once home to some of the country’s finest shoe and clothing manufacturers, Washington Avenue is now lined with art galleries, bars, restaurants and more. It was the perfect place for Alex Ebel to apply his eclectic approach to design, turning an industrial loft space into the perfect blend of antique elegance and modern living.
What do you like about living downtown?
I love the vibe and diversity. It’s great for young professionals or older people looking to downsize from homes in the city. There are great restaurants and a lot of super nice people. It’s an awesome city. I think there needs to be more awareness of what downtown has to offer.
What attracted you to the property?
I didn’t want a new pop-up condo; I wanted an older building with history. I like that this building is multiuse construction. It started with an industrial purpose and is now residential. I love the loft’s high ceilings and 16-foot windows, which provide great natural light. I don’t have to turn my lights on during the day, and when it’s raining, it’s surreal. I love watching the water drip down the panes. It’s beautiful.
What changes did you make?
The biggest change was repainting the entire space. Believe it or not, the unit was almost 20,000 square feet of nacho cheese yellow. When I first walked in, I was like, “Oh my goodness. This will be a project.” There weren’t that many other changes other than installing some antique chandeliers.
Describe your style.
I got my style from my mother. I grew up around a lot of antique furniture. My siblings all gravitate toward modern design now, but her ideas rubbed off on me, and I have a more antique, eclectic style. While I love Old World furniture, I don’t gravitate toward one specific period. I also have modern pieces. It’s about finding things that are the right color, size and proportion. I don’t want the space to be so opulent that I can’t come home and relax. I want everything to be eclectic but still elegant. I like the contrast of old and new in the loft.
What is your strategy for buying furniture?
I feel like everything I’ve put into the loft is a part of me. I really took my time furnishing the space. When people buy furniture, they often gravitate toward things that look exciting or fun without thinking about if they’ll still love it five years down the road. I really wanted to be careful and pick pieces that spoke to me. I’ve gotten very good at going into stores and recognizing which pieces I may like but aren’t really what I want or need. I have nice furniture, but I don’t want an excessive amount. Less mess is less stress.
Why did you incorporate polo into the decor?
Polo always has been a big part of my life. I used to play, and the community is still important to me. I wanted to bring that polo player vibe into the loft. I incorporated mallets I’ve used in games, and there are some old helmets lying around. I don’t play anymore, so it’s a cool way to remember those times when I did.
Do you have any favorite pieces?
The horse statue on my dining room table was a gift from my parents after I completed a summer program at Parsons School of Design in New York. My mother bought it from an antique store in Newport, Rhode Island, which is owned by the man who used to make bronze polo statues for Ralph Lauren stores. I think that’s really cool.
Tell me about the rubber ducks.
Right now, the collection is in my bedroom, but I used to spread them throughout the loft. My mission was to make people smile. They’re cute, so if you spot one, it makes your day for a second. You see another, then you’re happy again for another second. Before you know it, you’ve added a minute of joy to your day.
Do you have a favorite room?
It probably is the guest bedroom. There’s a great antique mirror in there, and the headboard is 200 years old. It came from an English manor. It’s unique because it’s connected to the night stands. It’s gilded and tufted, so it looks very regal, and it fits a California king. I think it’s a magnificent piece. The bed itself isn’t that comfortable right now—guess I need to work on that!