Style Inside

Shifting Gears

Former IndyCar driver Robby McGehee’s Forest Ridge home is on the National Register of Historic Places—but that hasn’t stopped his triplets from occasionally scrawling on the walls. McGehee shares why he loves his traditional Clayton estate—which he’s owned for two years—and how his family infuses youth into the 88-year-old property.

T&S | What attracted you to this house?
RM| Its age and beauty. After looking at new houses, we realized you can’t really recreate a lot of what’s here: this house was built in 1926.

T&S | What look did you and your interior designers hope to achieve?
RM| Our goal was to take the traditional house and accent it with modern and contemporary [pieces] and a younger feel. We wanted to make it traditional, but not old, by putting in contemporary furnishings and decorations.

T&S | The home sits on 2.7 acres. Were you looking for a large yard?
RM| The real estate aspect was as important as the house to me. Considering the urban aspect of Clayton, having 3 acres on an estate kind of home is unique. We have three 5-year-old kids who can use it all. Real estate was pretty depressed when we got it, so getting that much land was a great investment, even though we’ll probably never leave.

There’s a little fountain in back and a lot of perennials and hedges. We have a pond, and when we bought the house, I thought, This is going to be another expense to deal with. But we’ve fixed it up and put some fish in it. I can sit in my office and watch ducks come, and every once in a while, a great blue heron.

T&S | What’s your favorite feature?
RM| I love the stature of it: the fact that we have a big, square, full-masonry home. When a tornado comes, we just sit there and don’t worry. There’s 18 inches of concrete between each floor. To me that’s just very cool. It’s been here for almost 100 years and will probably still be standing in 200 years.

Our favorite room is on the third floor. It was a ballroom at one point, and we’ve turned that into a kids’ room with video games and arcade machines. When we bought this house, there was a nasty mildewed rug on the third floor, with wood underneath that was probably installed in 1926. We called a floor person, they sanded it down and said it’s red maple, a tree you don’t see in flooring anymore. That room is a cool, homey place—basically our family room, since we don’t have the great room you have in new homes.

Robby and Norma McGehee with their triplets (clockwise from top): Robby Jr., Cameron and Harry

Robby and Norma McGehee with their triplets (clockwise from top): Robby Jr., Cameron and Harry

T&S | What’s it like to raise your young triplets in the home?
RM| It’s a challenge, but they’ve gotten past the point where they draw on things. You work so hard to make it nice, and they work so hard to do the opposite.

T&S | Tell me about those racing helmets.
RM| In my prior life, from 1999 to 2004, I raced Indy cars. That was back when I was young and fearless. They typically sit in my office, or what my family calls my ‘I love me room’: It has all my racing memorabilia and trophies. I got kind of relegated to that room because my wife and the interior designers weren’t super-excited about that kind of stuff.

T&S | Did it take a lot of work to get the house looking as nice as it does now?
RM| In the last two months we’ve done a lot. We redid the entryway and the powder room. We recently decorated the rear entry foyer, which we call the club room, as well as the formal living room and formal dining room. It’s a work in progress and it probably always will be a work in progress. We’ve got plans that probably won’t happen for five or 10 years. We’re both very excited about it, to think about what’s next. With something that old, there’s always going to be something we can improve.

T&S | What are your favorite memories of living in the house so far?
RM| Everything related to raising our children here. They’re growing up here, as have multiple generations before them. I just love driving up every day and seeing the kids’ toys in the driveway.

by Rebecca Koenig

photos by Suzy Gorman

Recommended