It’s not every day that people look back on the home-building experience with fond memories and no regrets. But for Jim and Elizabeth Mauze, who built a Clayton home with Michael Lauren Development in 2015, the entire process couldn’t have gone smoother, they say. Friends were involved with every step of the process, from building to decorating, which made everything a little more fun and the end result extra special.

T&S | What made you decide to build?
Elizabeth Mauze | We’re friends with Michael Rechan (founder of Michael Lauren Development), and I’ve always loved his houses. For years, I begged him to build us one, and we finally talked him into it! We were right on the Clayton border in Ladue before, and we love the Clayton area. We always walk to restaurants, and my husband bought bikes this year, so now we ride everywhere.

T&S | It was a smooth process?
EM | It was just the best process ever! It’s not uncommon to worry when working with friends, but Mike was wonderful—and he’s like that with all his clients. He’s very organized, and we met with him and the architect every week. There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about it. I found a house plan online that I loved, and the architect really worked with it and made the layout very similar to what I found.

T&S | What did you envision for the home?
EM | In our previous house, the kitchen and living room were open to each other, and I didn’t want that. I know most people do, but I like the kitchen as a separate room. We didn’t want a formal living room— my husband didn’t even want a formal dining room, but I knew we would use it. I wanted our bedroom on the first floor because the upstairs is the kids’ space. We have three daughters and will be empty-nesters next year, so it’s nice to have everything Jim and I need on one level. The rooms are not huge, but everything is open and spacious.

T&S | The house is neutral except for some pops of green and blue. Is this your usual design aesthetic?
EM | It’s very different than what we came from, but I prefer this look. It’s clean and fresh, and there aren’t a lot of little things sitting around. Our other house was very traditional with a lot of greens and reds. I knew I wanted to do blue this round, and I enlisted my friend, designer Margie Tomaso, to handle most of the decorating. I let her pick everything out for the most part, and she would present options to me on various things. Like the room with the green chairs; she gave me the option of orange or green. I would never have done that on my own. The green scared me, but I trusted her and I love it!

T&S | Do you have areas where you congregate the most?
EM | The kitchen for sure, and the outdoor patio. We’ll sit out there in the mornings, or in the fall we’ll start a fire and watch football. We really use every room in the entire house, even the basement since my husband’s office is down there.

T&S | Do you have a favorite room?
EM | I love the dining room. And the foyer is nice because it stretches the entire length of the house. We hosted Christmas our first year in the home and were able to run tables all the way down the foyer for dinner. We dressed them with white tablecloths and flowers, and it looked so elegant. The house is easy to entertain in, and we hope to do it more!

Photos: Suzy Gorman