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The 10 Most Beautiful Houses in St. Louis

St. Louis is blessed with great architecture, enticing entryways, lovely landscaping. The trick for the homeowner is pulling it all together. The challenge for us was narrowing down all of the beauties to a precious few.

The mission: Pick the area’s 10 most beautiful homes, judging only from the curb. The problem: St. Louis has hundreds of candidates. So after weeks of trolling neighborhoods across the area, we put the candidates to an AT HOME staff vote, and came up with the following winners—some old, some new; some large, some relatively small; several traditional, a couple modern; some from the city, and the rest from the county. And all of them homes we’d love to call our own.



Lafayette Park

Built: 1880.
Architect: Unknown.
Landscape architect: Unknown.
Significant stats:
Three bedrooms, three baths.
Why we chose it:
This is just another painted lady—like Audrey Hepburn was just another pretty face. Like a cygnet maturing into a stately swan, this house started out as a plain-Jane farmhouse. The Victorian details evolved over the centuries. As by the current homeowner told us, the three-story portico wasn’t added until the 1980s, after the resident traveled to Savannah, Ga. For us, the package is perfect, from that portico to the windows, cornices, shutters, balustrades, scroll brackets, stoop, iron gate, and even liriope and hydrangeas. We’re especially fond of the lawn chairs on the third-floor balcony—the perfect spot to start the day with coffee and end the day with wine. Now that’s city living.


Central West End

Built: 1952.
Architect: Frederick Dunn, Nagel & Dunn.
Landscape architect: Matt Moynihan, Moynihan and Associates.
Significant stats:
Four bedrooms, three baths.
Why we chose it:
Surrounded by grand Gilded Age mansions, this modest beauty captures the eye like a tulip in a field of roses. The crisp, white-painted brick exterior glistens regardless of the season. The windows’ sheers offer passersby a glimpse of the contemporary art hanging inside. The house, with a 6 1/2-foot-tall urn by artist Allan McCollum tucked behind a hedge of evergreens and a row of hornbeams, slips into view as a wonderful surprise. What adds to the delight is its international style. You might think St. Louis, with its architectural acumen, would have scores of similar masterpieces—but we found exactly four. And this one is our hands-down favorite.



University City

Built: 1926.
Architect:
J.L. Bowling.
Landscape architect: The homeowner.
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths.
Why we chose it:
As cool as an ocean breeze, this house sent our spirits soaring with its tile roof, the wooden balustrades on the balcony, the trio of archways with matching arched windows, the surprisingly stylish custom-made mosquito-net curtains on the veranda, the landscaping, the meandering walk to the front door, and the decorative plasterwork on the facade. The current residents are only the third owners—and to show you the pull of the place, the second owner (who grew up in the house) suffered such seller’s remorse six months after handing over the keys that he asked to buy it back. The answer? Not gonna happen.


Clayton

Built: 1998.
Architect:
Scott Krejci.
Builder: Chuck Schagrin, Amherst Corp.
Landscape architect: Ted Spaid, SWT Design.
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths.
Why we chose it: Ask anyone at a cocktail party in the central corridor to describe three houses he or she absolutely adores, and the odds are better than even that this beauty will be mentioned. With its painted brick, perfect placement on a double-wide lot, smashing sculpture, and elegant allée of trees, this house exudes an almost Zen peacefulness. The house was designed to display the art collection of its original owner (there have been a total of two). “It really proves a client can have the biggest impact on a project by inspiring it,” remarks Mr. Krejci. “It is a simple design, and simple is not easy to do. You can’t hide in the details. You can’t throw another gable on it. You study scale and proportion until your eyes cross.” Suffice it to say, we were inspired by the result.


Clayton

Built: 1953.
Original architect:
Frederick Dunn.
Renovating architect:
Brian Smith, Gunn & Smith Architects.
Landscape architect:
Matt Moynihan, Moynihan and Associates.
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, eight baths.
Why we chose it:
This baby’s got curves. We remember when the house was the smallest in its neighborhood, a little sprite sited on a large parcel of land. The current owners came in, tripled the size of the facade, and painted it what architect Brian Smith likes to call “a Sir John Soane gray,” which contrasts nicely with the black shutters. Mr. Smith also credits the late neoclassical architect Sir Soane with inspiring the clean-lined design of the new facade. Of course, the regal sphinxes also add a certain majestic air, as do the limestone pediment and detailing. All in all, this lovely example of the English Regency style is at once grand and understated—and, of course, simply breathtaking.


Webster Groves

Built: 1901.
Architect:
Matthews and Clarke.
Significant stats:
Five bedrooms, three full baths, one half bath.
Why we chose it:
One must curtsy to the queen. In this case, it’s Queen Anne. Notice all of the pairs: of bowed windows, of dormers, of sash windows, and then the sets of windows flanking the French door on the second floor. We love the dentil molding and the transoms—and think of all of that light inside. Just imagine sashaying up the steps to the roofed porch and through the tripartite front door, then looking out through the twin third-floor dormers at the landscaping. The missus of the couple living there grew up in the neighborhood and knew the house from her childhood. When she heard it was coming on the market, she told her husband, “This is it. You are coming along, and this is where we are going to end up.” With gusto, we second the sentiment.


Glendale

Built: 1938.
Architect:
Justin Joy.
Landscape architect:
Kenneth Noll & Associates; window boxes by Sundance Garden Design.
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, 3 ½ baths.
Why we chose it:
The peak of the roofs, the window boxes, the gentility of the English Tudor design, the cream-and-gray motif, and that feeling that Hansel and Gretel could trundle out at any moment won us over. The current owner, a former real-estate agent, planned to show the house to a client, but as soon as she drove up and walked through the door, she decided to keep it for herself. We’d have done the same. The red door, flanked by triple-tiered topiaries, beckons us in.


Kirkwood

Built: 1908.
Architect:
Unknown.
Landscape architects:
Sundance Garden Design and The Artful Garden.
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, 2 ½ baths.
Why we chose it: Maybe it was the stark contrast between the dark cedar shingles and the white hydrangeas in bloom, or the Georgian-style cornices. Perhaps the eight-paned windows, with gray-painted trim, came into play. Or maybe it was the pitch of the shingled roof. And we loved the landscaping, with its stately trees and assorted shrubs, so perfect for the site and the cedar-shake house. The glow from the windows beckoned us inside. We fully recognize that the house is not especially grand, but to our eye, it is undisputably great. The simplicity of its beauty captured our hearts. The current owners have lived there for four decades; it clearly won theirs as well.


Chesterfield

Built: 2009.
Architect: Diane Lochner, Mitchell Wall and Associates.
Builder: Dean Teiber Construction Company.
Landscape architect:
Frisella Nursery.
Significant stats:
Four bedrooms, 4 ½ baths.
Why we chose it:
As you may have noticed, we rarely opt for new construction. But something about the grace of the home’s footprint as it leisurely stretches out on its corner pie-shaped lot captured our attention. The curves, the bowed window, the peaks and pediments and stucco finish made us think Hollywood, not what was once the hinterlands of St. Louis. The 1 1/2-story house was designed with a first-floor master bedroom and plenty of rooms upstairs for visiting children and their families. The homeowner admitted that both she and her husband repeat the following mantra on an almost daily basis: “We love this house, we love this house,” she says. “And we had many, many angels working on this project.” No wonder. It’s heavenly.


Ladue

Built: 1936.
Architect:
Unknown.
Renovating designer:
Marshall Watson.
Landscape architect: Frisella Nursery.
Significant stats: Six bedrooms, six full baths, two half baths.
Why we chose it:
Normally, we shy away from houses of mixed materials. But in this case—brick and wood—we’re shouting “Bravo!” Mr. Watson, the New York designer who renovated the house inside and out, points out that it’s long and lean—only one room deep, perfectly sited on an elongated piece of property. “It is wonderful because it has curvature,” Mr. Watson says, and we roundly agree. Actually, we love it all, from the Georgian portico (added by Mr. Watson) to the whitewash on the brick, the bow of the second-story window, and the perfect plantings. As Mr. Watson notes, “The front is a mixture of French Normandy with Georgian details thrown in. It’s that wonderful thing that they did in the ’20s and ’30s.” It’s so wonderful, we think they should keep right on doing it.

 

 

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