T&S Home Features

Locally Crafted

A remodel is an emotionally charged project that challenges you creatively. But the end result is usually worth the effort—if done right, your home’s renovated spaces are more complementary to your lifestyle. For one University City homeowner, a substantial kitchen overhaul not only gave her a better functioning room, it also provided an opportunity to support local craftspeople. Forgoing national chains, she created her perfect kitchen with the help of St. Louis’ vibrant community of artisans.

The home was constructed in the 1920s, and the last kitchen update had been done in the ’90s. The homeowner wanted to upgrade to a more functional, modern space while respecting the original design. To make her vision a reality, she hired Riggs Company for the project. The Kirkwood-based remodeling business has been family-owned for 60 years and currently is led by Amie Riggs and her brother, Bill. Amie notes they have a hometown advantage when it comes to working with older homes. “We were born and raised in the business and know a lot about how the city was built,” she says. “That’s a unique advantage of our longevity.”

The homeowner wanted everything custom-built for the new kitchen, and Riggs developed a design that worked with the original floor plan, restoring flow that had been lost during earlier renovations. The company also kept everything on track. “Without Riggs, I don’t think the remodel would be done yet,” the homeowner says. When plans for a custom-designed hood for the range fell through, the team built one from scratch. “It was a major hiccup and very stressful, but they swooped in and saved the day,” she says. “The hood they created is gorgeous and may be my favorite part of the kitchen.”

Along with using local builders, the homeowner wanted to ensure each purchase for the remodel supported area businesses. New appliances came from Designer Appliances by Lemcke in Webster Groves, and light fixtures were purchased at Jon Paul Designs & Collectibles in Richmond Heights. The homeowner notes that the lighting is particularly special. The store owners found original 1920s fixtures and restored them for the project. She says it’s a unique touch that would have been nearly impossible to include if she had shopped at big box stores or online. “It’s beautiful lighting, and I got it from a local business just down the street,” she notes. “How awesome is that?”

For the kitchen table, the homeowner knew exactly where to turn: furniture maker David Stine. His sustainable pieces have been featured in restaurants of local culinary luminaries like Gerard Craft and Matthew McGuire, but for her, there is a personal connection. “I’ve known David for a long time, and I purchased one of his first tables when he was starting out,” she recalls. “He’s incredibly talented.”

Before he was a star craftsman, Stine was a lawyer in Washington, D.C. He returned to his family’s farm in Jersey County, Illinois, to pursue his passion for woodworking. His handcrafted pieces use wood sustainably sourced from the family’s 500 wooded acres. “It’s very important to take care of the land and leave something for the next generation,” Stine says. “We don’t just harvest the best trees. Instead, we wait until things are at the end of their life cycle. I get great materials, and the forest is always rejuvenating.”

For the remodel, Stine crafted a cafe table of light blonde wood to complement the dark walnut dining table he previously had built for the homeowner. “I don’t like the concept of ‘matching,’” he notes. “Beautiful, natural things always work together, either in harmony or as counterpoints.” The table’s design was kept classic and simple to reflect the homeowner’s desire to remain true to the original build date. “It’s invaluable to be able to showcase David’s work in my home,” the homeowner says. “I didn’t buy a table from some national chain. I bought it from a friend who can sit and visit with me at that very table.”

With the remodel complete, the homeowner is thrilled with the beautiful results. “I was able to get exactly what I wanted while shopping local,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked to work with a better group of people.”

Photo: Bill Barrett