Style & Substance
The whimsical worlds of art and fashion collide in the charming Shaw neighborhood home of Brooks Brothers VP Dean VanMeter.
Along a lush and quiet street in the historic Shaw neighborhood, Dean VanMeter’s home is a sight for lovers of art and fashion. Dean purchased the three-story home 12 years ago after moving to St. Louis from LA. “I really didn’t want this large of a house,” says Dean, who viewed 15 area properties before stepping into the Flad Avenue residence. The brick Tudor-style home was a bargain in the thriving St. Louis real estate market at the time, and after his first tour, he immediately thought, “This is it!” Twelve years later, Dean was ready to give the place a facelift and enlisted the help of good friend and local interior designer Jacob Laws of Cure Design Group to redo the space from top to bottom. Jacob, who has been designing professionally for more than seven years, boasts an impressive list of high-profile clientele, and he loves working with friends. “It’s honest and doesn’t have to be too diplomatic,” he says. The project was a collaborative one. “Dean has impeccable taste—it just needed to be pushed a bit,” Jacob adds. The transformation began in February 2013.
Artistic License In every room of the home, Dean’s expansive art collection nearly steals the show. An avid collector for more than 20 years, he’s not afraid to showcase his various pieces, 90 percent of which are from St. Louis-based artists. “Most of the art was purchased through my good friend [local artist], Charlie Houska, as well as local art fairs and events like the Wall Ball,” he explains. The first-floor living room carries perhaps the most striking variety of art. The clear coffee table, an impulse purchase from South Grand’s Rocket Century, leads the eye directly to the elaborately decorated fireplace. Dean’s impressive collection of all-white Jonathan Adler statues creates the perfect balance to complement colorful paintings by Dennis DeToye and Jenna Bauer. The room even features an ode to Jackson, Dean’s cheery spaniel—a piece artist Fern Taylor created when she spotted Jackson at the home of Charlie Houska, who was dog-sitting while Dean was out of town.
Master of Masculinity Moving on to the bedroom, the eye-catching decor continues with pastel painted pottery and paintings, creating a truly master bedroom. Two large windows let in the perfect amount of natural light to enhance the aura of contemporary masculinity. The room even opens into a master bath, complete with a skylight. The bed came first, its tufted headboard catching Dean’s attention, but the color “was a little off.” In true designer fashion, Jacob had it reupholstered with a luxe olive velvet, adding bright red-orange accent pillows to ensure the bed remained an important focal point. Notable furniture items include a vintage Regency glass-top wheat table and a reupholstered chevron print chair—a mid-century piece that originally belonged to Dean’s parents. Galvanized steel drum shades were added to replace the original ceiling fans, adding the perfect industrial touch. “I spend most of my time here,” Dean says. “I wanted it to be a space where I can relax.”
Chic Comfort Editing the previously overly cluttered media room was another big focus of the project. Described by Jacob as “a storage room at Grey Gardens,” years of photos, collected objects, books and decor made this large space nearly unusable. Dean, who loves to entertain, was eager to create a more inviting area of the home where he could spend time with friends and family. With the help of Jacob, the room became just that—warm and inviting with a touch of class and a humorous edge. The resulting color palette, a delicate mix of soft blues with pops of orange, keeps the environment cool, while a mixture of various metals, sculptures, antlers—and a gold skull—spice up the space. Everything in the room is a fresh addition—a mix of new and vintage finds, including pieces from Crate & Barrel, Rocket Century, local antique stores and artists. Perhaps what’s most striking about the project is the juxtaposition of masculine and whimsical, creating a space that’s both practical and inviting. The entire project took the pair only three to four months to complete and is still a work in progress. “I’m glad I got the chance to work with someone I know so well,” says Jacob of Dean. “It’s not about ‘decorating;’ it’s about collecting and curating. Your home should be an extension of who you are.”
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg