Our House

From unconventional spaces to historical restorations, these stylish St. Louisans have made the transformation from house to home.

 

 

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Curated Americana

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A 5,300-square-foot mid-century firehouse serves as the blank canvas for photographers Aaron and Heather Hawes’ unconventional home and work space. Having already attracted the attention of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” the Hawes’ Grand Center restoration project has been one to follow. The entire space is a work in progress, and the couple couldn’t be more passionate about the renovation, despite the enormous undertaking. “We do most of the work ourselves,” says Heather. “It’s an ongoing project to create a space we never want to leave.”

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As part of the STL company that had a hand in developing reality show hits like the Style Network’s “Resale Royalty,” the History’s Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning” and the Discovery Channel’s “Fast & Loud,” Smith seamlessly transitioned aspects of his career into his home decor with the help of interior designer Annie Brahler, owner of Euro Trash Designs. The cost-efficient restoration was anchored by Smith’s extensive collection of family heirlooms and artwork, creating a perfect ode to both his producing career and his childhood in the world of drag racing. One-of-a-kind pieces include a coffee table crafted from the tire of his father’s first winning race car, a bar cart stocked with The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Family Brand Whiskey, a gilt-framed “motor-head” illustration of Marilyn Monroe (an original work of art created by Smith) and a one-of-a-kind dining table crafted by local artisan Dave Stine and designed by Smith, his father and Brahler. Heirlooms, including a painting his father created of his mother’s childhood home in Sedalia, MO, a framed “Hell on Wheels” WWII military uniform that belonged to his paternal grandfather and a painting that once hung in the one-room school house attended by his maternal grandfather hang alongside important works by the likes of Ruth Schweiss and Ernest Trova. In short, every inch of Smith’s home has a story. “I love pieces that aren’t perfect‰ÛÓthat makes them perfect to me,” Smith explains.

The personal touches ensure that a warm and inviting vibe pervades‰ÛÓthe result of Smith’s obvious pride in both his career and family roots. “Family is everything,” Smith says. “I like to always be grounded in my history. My home tells my story.”

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Industrial Resolution

A 5,300-square-foot mid-century firehouse serves as the blank canvas for photographers Aaron and Heather Hawes’ unconventional home and work space. Having already attracted the attention of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” the Hawes’ Grand Center restoration project has been one to follow. The entire space is a work in progress, and the couple couldn’t be more passionate about the renovation, despite the enormous undertaking. “We do most of the work ourselves,” says Heather. “It’s an ongoing project to create a space we never want to leave.”

5021_1601.jpgThe first and most dramatic change took place in the garage-turned-photostudio on the ground level. Once used as a place to wash and store fire trucks, the space has undergone a massive facelift. It was important for the Hawes to have both a creative and professional space to entertain clients and friends, so Aaron painted the entire room stark white and added LED lighting for a gallery-like effect. To counteract the angled floors, the pair constructed platforms to break up the space and add a sense of artistic whimsy. The upstairs is still in flux and the couple is adamant about keeping the industrial feel of the space alive. The media room comes complete with a large record player-turned-whiskey-bar, as well as contemporary furniture with a chic edge. Remnants of the historic firehouse are everywhere, including the former •À_captain•À_s room•À_•À_equipped with the original fire pole•À_which is set to become a guest bedroom. An obvious highlight and most unique aspect of the second floor is the communal bathroom, which boasts several sinks, stalls and showers surrounded by classic mid-century stonework.

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The Hawes’ passion for minimalism is obvious; the entire space is open and airy, carefully preserving its roots and encouraging the growth that is to come. “We have lots of plans,” says Heather. “We know it is a long process, but we are so excited about the progression.” Join the Hawes as they continue their journey on their blog, “A Fire Pole in the Dining Room.”

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Reclaimed History

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It takes truly passionate renovators to undergo the project taken on by Chris Salinas and Lydia Padilla, who successfully transformed their three-story Lafayette Square residence into a cozy update to classic St. Louis architecture. The Victorian-style home, built in 1885 as a “sister house” to its next door neighbor, has undergone a major renovation, giving the property new life, while preserving its historical significance. Previously the estate of Dr. Albert Montesi, an author, historian and professor at Saint Louis University, the home sat through years of vacancy that left it in desperate need of some T.L.C., which prompted the full historical restoration in 2008.

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To balance the home’s historical features, Chris and Lydia have let both their hobbies and travels inspire the decor. The first floor has a distinctly New Orleans flair. As if the home were singing you the blues, classic heirlooms and Bayou-inspired art juxtapose with modern elements and whimsical accents. Each room has a fireplace with exquisite detail. Upstairs, the bedrooms are stocked with estate sale gems and still contain historical features like pocket shutters, a Jefferson window with a balcony and a Jack and Jill closet. After five years, the couple is still overjoyed about their endeavor.

“There’s still work to be done,” says Chris with a smile. “Up next is the facade.”

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“There were lots of small details to get the home to where it is now,” Lydia says, “but we were absolutely sure we wanted to keep the integrity of the home intact.” From finding a woodworker who could mimic the butterfly molding throughout the home to resizing and matching up every pocket door that separates the rooms, the immaculate details are infinite. Perhaps the most detailed project was the handrails on the main stairwell. “Each piece had to be numbered and recorded to keep them in the proper order,” Lydia explains. “They were planed and spun by hand. Simply getting them replicated would have been impossible.”

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Family Blueprints

In a quaint neighborhood in Webster Groves, the joining of two households led to an impressive gut rehab fitting of the creative genius of Tom and Shelley Niemeier. Both professionals at SPACE Architecture‰ÛÓTom is an architect and Shelley is an interior and graphic designer‰ÛÓthe couple knew they needed a fresh place to start their new family and were intrigued when they stumbled across the two-story 1,600-square-foot bungalow on North Forest Avenue. “The house was chopped up into many different spaces and needed a lot of work inside and out,” says Shelley, “but Tom saw its potential.”

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Once opened up, the first floor became an entirely new house. A cozy living room leads to an added master bedroom complete with a walk-in closet and master bath. The spacious kitchen boasts stainless-steel appliances, custommade concrete countertops and ceiling-height cabinets. The dining room is both welcoming and bright‰ÛÓits centerpiece a charming dining table crafted by Tom using the home’s original back door. Other design details include a pair of 1925 Wassily chairs that accent the new stairwell, a floating shelf collage for family photos and a 1950s TV-turned-bar, made by Tom’s grandfather.

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After closing the deal in summer 2011, the Niemeiers began major construction, tearing down walls and taking on the daunting job of moving the staircase that was originally tucked away in a back bedroom into the center of the home, making it the main focal point in the space. The move was successful by mere inches. The pair even utilized a portion of the main structural beam that was removed to create a one-of-a-kind kitchen island.

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Upstairs, family space reigns supreme with two original bedrooms for Tom’s sons and a third under construction for both 1-year-old Marlowe and their new addition‰ÛÓanother baby due this month. The home perfectly combines both Tom and Shelley’s points of view and leaves room for their growing family. “Our tastes blend well together,” Shelley explains. “We trust each other’s design decisions and love having a manageable space with the kids. It’s efficient.”

 

Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg

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