June 2020 At home with Nancy Barrett in Chesterfield by Jim Winnerman
After an initial career and education as a graphic artist, Nancy realized her true ambition was to be an interior designer. “As a teenager, my mom always let me decorate my own room, and later, I was frequently asked for my decorating advice.” she remembers.
Her interest in décor never abated, and in 1995 she decided to switch occupations, follow her dream, and open her own decorating studio. At the same time, she enrolled in St. Louis Community College-Meramec to pursue a degree in interior design, which she completed while getting her business started. “Getting the degree was important to me,” she says.
“Most of my design business was for clients who preferred traditional décor. However, currently the most requested style is ‘transitional,’” she says, explaining that the younger generation’s preference for clean lines and a simpler style has influenced a change in St. Louis.
“I have no difficulty adapting to the design style of any client, whether it be traditional, contemporary or any preference in between. It is important I understand what people want in their homes so it can reflect their taste,” she says.
Nancy describes her own home décor as “eclectic with a mix of old and new,” with a preference for patterns, pictures and colors that reflect nature.
For example, under the vintage breakfast table the rug displays a pattern of tree branches. On the wall are framed prints of eggs, certainly appropriate for the breakfast table. A 4 x 6 painting in the living room is of a dandelion. Pillows, curtains, and a blanket in the master bedroom have a contemporary floral pattern, as does her formal chinaware.
Colors are also earthy. The dining and living room walls are “pumpkin pie orange”, and the guest bedroom is “sea glass green.”
Several vintage pieces are from family. A buffet in the dining room belonged to her grandmother, while the dining room table and chairs belonged to her parents. A vanity once belonged to a great aunt, and dates to 1901.
An heirloom from an unknown family is a painted and distressed work table in the master bedroom purchased at a farm auction.
Eclectic décor includes old wooden shutters flanking the guest bedroom bed, an ornate carved wooden balustrade repurposed as an accent table capable of holding one glass of wine, and a straw lamp shade that resembles a modern interpretation of a top hat. Two window cornices have been put to new use as display shelves in the living room.
A collection of Majolica plates, all incorporating some element of nature into their design, is displayed in the living room, dining room, breakfast room, family room and guest bathroom.
Nancy’s affinity for nature extends outside to her mailbox. In the summer it is decorated with a cover of flowers and a hummingbird. In the winter she changes the scene to Cardinals against a background of snow.
Instead of remodeling a room all at once, Nancy has redone the kitchen and master bath in stages over several years. Separate projects in the kitchen include refinishing the cabinets and installing new countertops and appliances. A tile backsplash with a band of mosaic under the kitchen window were added when the countertop was replaced.
In the master bathroom a curved hanging vanity was added and is lit from below. When the prior vanity was removed, it was discovered the area was not finished, so a pattern of tile matching the curve of the vanity was added on the floor below.
“This is by far the longest I have stayed in one house,” Nancy says. “Previously I lived in several homes, but none more than eight years, but I have been here since 2003. “I personally am a ‘homebody,’ and I decorated the way I enjoy living. It is wonderfully comfortable for me.”
The 5-10-20 Home section featured the second home I designed for my client in Ladue. She tells me what she likes, “the color sea glass green and nature”, and I go from there. Since the furnishings in the Chesterfield house I designed for her were only 2 years old, I repurposed it all and added some new items to fill this larger house. We even replaced and moved one light fixture that she particularly liked.
Her new house was built in 1954 and needed some updating. She thought the dark family room looked like “the inside of a Taco Bell” with its many beams and faux painting on the walls and fireplace. And, she requested removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen to create a more casual flow. All interior rooms were to be painted.
The family room was gutted to remove most of the beams and add more ambient lighting, insulation, and new drywall. The fireplace was refaced with marble. She did not care for the brick floor, but I convinced her that it added some character and we covered most of it with a new hand-knotted rug. Her existing family room slipcovered furniture fit nicely and new tables were added. This is now one of her favorite spaces!
In the dining room, the triple window needed replacing and I suggested a sliding door since the only access to the pool was through the kitchen. The wall was opened into the kitchen and a new sliced agate chandelier makes a bold statement. Her existing dining room furniture was used with the addition of a larger table and 2 additional chairs. The previous family room rug fit nicely in this room. She loves the flow between dining room, kitchen and her newly landscaped backyard.
There were no major structural changes to the living room but the built-in shelving was reworked and grasscloth wallcovering added to the back wall. A treasured elk painting set the color scheme along with a new hand-knotted rug. Her family’s antique butler’s tables fit perfectly on either side of the fireplace. New chairs were added to her previous furniture and the favorite light fixture found its place in this room.
This home won a design award for the family room. However, the best reward is that my client, a frequent entertainer and host of many charity events, refers to her residence as “her Eden.”
BEFORE – LOWER LEVEL AFTER – LOWER LEVEL WITH FIREPLACE
Three years after moving to their custom-built home, this Chesterfield couple was ready to complete their lower level and called Beautiful Rooms for assistance. Currently, the space was only being used as a large workout room. They had specific requests for new flooring, a direct-vent gas fireplace, seating, dry bar, workout area and full bathroom. The existing space had finished walls and a rough-in bath with sheet vinyl flooring throughout. Since they did all their entertaining upstairs, the new space was to be a private retreat for the two of them. They requested clean lines with neutrals accented by bright colors and wanted the lower level to reflect the same modern look as the main floor.
After deciding to work with our recommended contractor, they approved our floor plan which created a separate room for the workout equipment. That room would be accessed by a pair of French doors with a matching pair going into the unfinished area. On one end, there were 2 large windows and a sliding door so the fireplace was located on the blank exterior wall at the other end. This left the space by the windows for a counter height table and a small lounge area. Our first selections were wood-look LVP (luxury vinyl plank) for the flooring and an area rug with bright colors, to set the color scheme. After approval on the fireplace wall design, a textured Carrara marble tile was chosen for the face with striped wallcovering behind the custom shelving.
In front of the fireplace, a Sputnik light fixture was positioned between two recliners. They did not want to over-furnish the lounge area to keep a wide walkway between the dry bar on the other side. Repeating bright colors in the upholstery pieces gave them presence and floating cabinetry for the dry bar and bath vanity increased the feeling of spaciousness.
The bathroom was finished with chrome plumbing fixtures and a crystal light fixture. In the large shower, rectangular tile was installed vertically featuring a mosaic stripe of stone, glass and metal.
Since the new lower level provides many comforts, they are spending lots of time down there!
This lower level was a finalist in the 2020 Architect & Designer Awards!