St. Louis Magazine - At Home

Seven of St. Louis' Top Designers

Each is talented. Some are fairly new to the business. And they are our 2010 picks for the best designers operating under the radar.

Greg Rannells

Some of the designers we picked this year were discovered when we scouted homes for the magazine. Others we heard about secondhand—through designers, architects, photographers, contractors, and homeowners. Some won awards. And then, readers tipped us off about a talented candidate. That’s how designer Kim Taylor made this year’s list.

It might not hold weight in a court of law, but in the case of home design, such subjectivity seems perfectly appropriate. Like they say in Hollywood, certain people just have it. And when you see it, you know it. This year, we decided to narrow the selection to up-and-comers—designers who are young, relatively unknown, new to the profession, or all of the above.


Retta Leritz DiFate, Allied ASID, and Zachary Cramberg

Schoen Wahl designlab

Schoen Wahl designlab has thus far tackled projects both residential and commercial. Currently in pursuit of LEED certification, Retta Leritz DiFate and Zachary Cramberg hope to extend their reach to retail establishments in the future.

TRADEMARK STYLE: “I lend myself to more traditional, while Zachary has an eye for more modern aesthetics,” Mrs. DiFate says.
FAVORITE COLOR: “It’s constantly changing,” Mr. Cramberg says. “Right now it’s charcoal gray.”
FAVORITE LOCAL RESOURCE: TFA (The Future Antiques) and Big Bend Antique Gallery
FAVORITE TREND: Mixing pieces that are priced high and low.
FAVORITE DECORATING TIP: Less is always more.
FAVORITE DESIGN ICON: The Saarinen Tulip table


Julie Abner, Allied ASID

Julie Abner Interiors

Although she has been on the scene for the past 12 years, Julie Abner still feels she has limitless opportunity for growth. “I hope to see my work continue to grow steadily and continue to be rewarding for both my clients and myself,” Ms. Abner says.

TRADEMARK STYLE: Tailored and simplified interiors
FAVORITE TEXTURE: “I love the texture of a soft wool upholstery fabric.”
FAVORITE LOCAL RESOURCE: Centro Modern Furnishings
FAVORITE CHEAP/EASY FIX: Update light fixtures. “For example, change the old ceiling fan in your bedroom to a chandelier.”
FAVORITE FASHION INSPIRATION: “I love the color palettes designers are using right now. The use of grays with jewel tones is very sophisticated and beautiful.”
FAVORITE DESIGN ICON: Knoll dining and side tables by Warren Platner


Kim Taylor, Allied ASID

Kim Taylor Interior Design

Want Kim Taylor, one of AT HOME’s reader-selected best interior designers, for your next project? Invite her daughters along. With more than 20 projects currently in her lap and a master’s degree in environmental design on her long-term radar, the single mother of two welcomes every chance to blend family and work. Even when Ms. Taylor’s girls aren’t with her, they serve as her most inspiring muses.

TRADEMARK STYLE: Transitional: “I enjoy blending abstract art with traditional furniture, clean lines, and unexpected textures.”
FAVORITE TEXTURE: Ralph Lauren’s mohair fabric or Clarence House’s short velvet
FAVORITE COLOR: Yellow: “It’s not a great color for interior design, but I like to use warm tones with cool accents.”
FAVORITE DECORATING TIP: “Empower your digital camera. Pictures of things you love—like the Botanical Garden, the farmer’s market, or even a picture of your children—can inspire a room, a fabric, or a cabinet design. Take pictures of everything, and let it inspire you.”
FAVORITE TREND: The hidden audiovisual unit: “It allows us to have more room for chairs, art, etc. It also allows us to create flexible rooms that can serve as media spaces by night and home offices by day.”
LEAST FAVORITE TREND: Low-slung upholstery


Denise Fogarty, Allied ASID

Denise Fogarty Interiors

Denise Fogarty’s father always told her to set her sights on something she loved, and the money would come. Cupid struck at age 14, when her family moved into a new house, and she found herself obsessed with decorating it. “I signed up for a design class in high school, and I’ve never stopped loving it,” Mrs. Fogarty says.

TRADEMARK STYLE: Classic Californian
FAVORITE COLOR: Blue, “in lots of different hues, from periwinkle to indigo.”
FAVORITE TEXTURE: Natural, organic textures, such as sisal rugs, linen pillows, silk draperies, and cotton upholstery
INSPIRATION: Barclay Butera
FAVORITE FASHION INSPIRATION: Billowy silk drapery treatments, “like the dresses Sarah Jessica Parker wears.”
FAVORITE DESIGN ICON: Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain vases


Marci Marsh

Marci Marsh Design

Like the four-star chef who eats only takeout at home, Marci Marsh tends to avoid decorating her own house. “I see all of the lines each season and fall in love with something every time,” Mrs. Marsh says. “For that reason, I think I am always in waiting. God forbid I order something in the fall and want to replace it in the spring. I try to practice restraint.”

TRADEMARK STYLE: Traditional with clean lines
FAVORITE COLOR: Cool tones—silvery blues and greens, stone, brown
FAVORITE TEXTURE: “I love organic- or natural-looking textiles: thick Belgian linen, jute, bouclé.”
DREAM PROJECT: “My beach house in Southern California”
MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT HER HOUSE: “My house is underdecorated.”
FAVORITE DECORATING TIP: Don’t try to do everything at once. “Figure out what the purpose of each living space is first, then take on a little at a time—maybe one or two rooms—and do exactly what you want.”
FAVORITE CHEAP FIX: “If you already have a couple of great pieces in a room, sometimes paint and pillows are all you need for an update.”
FAVORITE TREND: Mixing materials
LEAST FAVORITE TREND: Coral: “So glad it’s over.”
FAVORITE DESIGN ICON: Stark’s diamond-pattern jute: “It transcends time and looks great with any style in any room.”


Jacob Laws

Senior Designer, CURE Design Group

Jacob Laws’ natural-born creativity could have taken him in any number of directions. And actually, it did. Prior to co-founding local firm CURE Design Group, Mr. Laws performed in summer-stock theater at The Muny, studied art history at Columbia College, worked as creative visual director for the local clothing retailer Splash, and launched a successful T-shirt line called FABRIk jacob laws. All of these influences—and then some—show up in his current life designing interiors for historic twin row houses, Northern Missouri farmhouses, and downtown lofts.

TRADEMARK STYLE: Classic with a modern edge and clean-cut with sophisticated style—the juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and contemporary
FAVORITE TEXTURE: “I’ve always loved linen, silk velvet, and lacquered pieces.”
FAVORITE DESIGN INSPIRATION: Art, travel, fashion, culture, and history. “Oh, and the movie, Auntie Mame—the Rosalind Russell version.”
FAVORITE LOCAL RESOURCES: Ivey-Selkirk, Century Design Ltd., and Suttonwood Interiors & Antiques
FAVORITE DECORATING TIP: Live with pieces you love, because they will influence your quality of life.”
FAVORITE CHEAP/EASY FIX: “Obviously paint.”
FAVORITE DESIGN ICON: Good art and Chinese Chippendale armchairs




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