Nothing makes a house more livable and memorable than a great kitchen and a spa-worthy bath. The kitchen is the place of gathering, while the bath functions as an escape hatch. When we sent out the word that we were looking for outstanding designs in both rooms, we were a bit overwhelmed by the number of candidates sent our way. We narrowed it down to a precious few, and we ferreted out as many ideas and resources as we could.
Architect: Tom Wall
Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design
Mitchell Wall architect Tom Wall and his wife, Megan, had no idea how many issues would crop up when they started remodeling the 50-year-old house they bought in Creve Coeur.
The first step, tearing down the walls in the existing kitchen, revealed unsightly mold.
“That was the first of many issues to arise along the way,” Tom says.
After the drywall came down, they found that the beam they assumed ran the width of the kitchen didn’t.
“The beam was being solely supported by the roof,” he says. “This is a really big problem.”
So that 18-foot existing beam came down, and Jermain Todd of Mwanzi turned it into the dining table and benches. A new beam had to go up.
“We lost a month before we even started construction,” Tom says.
The countertop is one seamless piece of Caesarstone. “Because we are who we are, we wouldn’t allow for any seams, so we bought a second slab,” Tom says. “This whole piece had to be cut out of one slab.”
The wavy surface on the island front and above the stove is the same material you’ll see on the walls of many commercial businesses, including the yogurt shop FroYo.
“It’s the same stuff your gyp boards are made of, but it’s sculpted,” Tom says. “Megan and I liked the way it worked, the way it combined with the wood grain, and the shadow play of it. It wasn’t the cheapest thing, but it was approachable.”
Ways to Save:
Wall found the hood at Authorized Builder Sales, a builders’ supply company that takes back things builders don’t use.
Tom Dixon Mirror Ball pendants from Centro Modern Furnishings
Sputnik light fixture found online at a Hollywood prop house
Cabinets by Centorbi
The wall tile, Dune, is from modularArts tile.
Jenn-Air built-in microwave with Speed-Cook
Axor faucet by Hansgrohe
Philippe Starck Hi-Cut chairs
Table and benches by Jermain Todd, Mwanzi
The flooring, installed by Champion Floors, is of white oak with white matte stain and can also be seen in the new wing of the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Designer: Dana King
Next Project Studio
When Dana King began work on this kitchen, the homeowner specified no granite. “She didn’t want stone,” King says. “It felt too cold. So we went with high-definition laminate. But it is not your grandma’s laminate.”
She did want the area opened up, so King had the passageway from the kitchen to the family room doorway changed from a 4-foot opening to a 9-foot opening; the kitchen to the dining room went from a 3-foot opening to a 6-foot opening.
Other requests included more countertop space and a functional island with seating for the three grandchildren.
The design started with the tile used on the backsplash.
“The backsplash is what they wanted, and that is really what we built the kitchen around,” King says.
On the countertops, she opted for a beveled edge with an integrated sink to create a high-end look using a very cost-effective material. These features work well with the star of the kitchen: the heather-gray silver-sage cabinets with an amber glaze finish. It was a color that King and the homeowners pulled out from the colors in the backsplash.
“That heather gray is throughout their house,” King says. “It’s a neutral and not a boring beige. It is a showstopper color. Those cabinets stop everyone in their tracks.”
Ways to Save:
Save by using Altherna in Moselle Valley by Armstrong from ProSource. It’s a linoleum and ceramic hybrid and gives the look of stone.
Wilsonart laminate countertops in Tuscan Sun from ProSource Wholesale Flooring
Save by using Xenon lighting instead of LEDs.
Save by putting the old microwave behind a cabinet door that flips up.
Save by leaving the plumbing where it was.
Cabinets by Amish Modern for Next Project Studio in silver sage with an amber glaze finish
Hardware-Aerock knobs and pulls in a brushed-nickel finish
Mosaic tile wall is made out of Optimus Reflections tile in khaki from ProSource.
Shade made out of Duralee’s Prasana in Saffron, bought at Anatole’s Fabrics.
Bar stools from Crate & Barrel
Frosted-glass door leads into the laundry room and adds light from a covered porch beyond.
Use all can lights. “You don’t always have to have pendants over the island,” King says. “If you want an island to feel grounded but don’t want lighting overhead, use a big spray of flowers to achieve the same feel.”
Designers: Kim Taylor and Leah Jarrell
K Taylor Design Group
Sometimes it’s best to start with a clean slate. Designers Kim Taylor and Leah Jarrell of K Taylor Design Group did just that when working on this kitchen in University City.
“We were down to the exposed brick,” Taylor says. “And because we had this blank space to work with, we were able to do a lot. We more than doubled the size of the kitchen and created a really light and airy space.”
To accommodate frequent parties, the round dining table with a seating capacity of 10 was chosen first. Then the extra-long island was added. The distressed wood on the dining table and Sunbrella fabrics on the chairs ensure that this kitchen will grow with the young family with two boys under 2.
“We made sure the range was on the wall and not in the island for safety,” Jarrell says. “And the extra-large stainless steel sink is deep enough to hide bottles and dishes quickly, a lifesaver for a busy mom,” Taylor adds.
In order to keep the space from being too white-on-white, the white custom cabinets are paired with walls painted with Sherwin-Williams’ Pewter Tankard, a warm French gray. Balance is achieved by adding warm wood tones, like those in the flooring, and by mixing the various finishes.
“We didn’t want to commit to a single finish in this kitchen,” Jarrell says. An oil-rubbed bronze-and-crystal chandelier hangs next to nickel industrial pendants, while a polished chrome faucet works well with stainless-steel appliances. The antique pewter nailheads on the dining chairs and wood bar stools tie the whole space together.
Taylor says, “The kitchen is a cozy and inviting for daily life, but it allows for entertaining for 16 comfortably.”
Ways to Save:
Chandelier from Restoration Hardware Outlet store
Save by buying a discontinued faucet model by Hansgrohe on clearance at Immerse.
Save with white brick subway tile from The Home Depot
Bar stools from Room & Board
Chairs from KDR Designer Showrooms
Honed Danby marble countertops
Crown molding added for custom detail.
Pendant lights from Restoration Hardware
Designer: Jacob Laws
Jacob Laws Interior Design
When the homeowner asked designer Jacob Laws to help him redecorate his new condo, he had just lost his wife of some 30-odd years. However, he didn’t stay a widower long.
“He went on a cruise by himself, he met this woman, and after seven or eight days, they got married on the boat,” Laws says. “She moved back to St. Louis with him, and the rest is history.”
The Central West End condo was redone before their return. The place was gutted; the kitchen taken down to the studs.
“It was very, very traditional cherry wood, very heavy on the carving,” Laws says. In the kitchen, they heightened the ceiling and raised the soffits. All the existing appliances, cabinets, and countertops were donated to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
“Once it was all ripped out, we just went to town,” Laws says. He had a closet removed to get more natural light. Then at Stone Fabricators, he found two slabs of the white Danby marble left over from someone else’s remodeling project.
“I was doing cartwheels over that alone,” he says. “It was so stunning. I loved the linear veining of it. I loved the consistency of both slabs and that they really went with the aesthetic that we were shooting for.”
The cabinets, created by Beck/Allen Cabinetry, were finished in a shade called driftwood. Laws’ choice of chandelier plays on the theme.
“I like using some elements that are almost a little primitive,” he says. “The round pendant out of driftwood is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the cabinets.”
A 46-star flag from 1865 that Laws found at Rothschild’s Antiques before it closed.
Currey & Company
Beck/Allen Cabinetry. “I wanted more of a modern color palette, but I still kept a sense of classicism,” Laws says.
Appliances bought at AUTCOhome
90-degree corner square stainless steel sink. “I try to do something a little modern,” Laws says.
Dark charcoal gray 12- by 24-inch porcelain tiles from Daltile | Tile & Stone Floor & Wall
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Designer: Jay Eiler
The owners of this turn-of-the-century home in the Central West End wanted to transform their second-floor guest bath into one everyone wanted to use.
“It was a smaller bath and dated,” says Jay Eiler, a designer with Castle Design. “It needed some TLC.”
They gutted the space and then increased the room’s square footage by incorporating some storage space in an adjoining room. “We added a transom window into the space for some of the natural light to come flooding through,” Eiler says.
The main goal was to make the room as serene as possible. “They wanted it to be calming,” Eiler adds. “They utilize this themselves. We used very custom high-end finishes and a very calming, sophisticated palette.”
While saving money by using the existing tub (which they had refurbished) and toilet, Eiler splurged on the flooring and the accent tile in the shower. “We used in doses,” he says. “We didn’t go crazy with it.” It is paired with white subway tiles.
The focal point is the chandelier hanging over the bath that Eiler created with Third Degree Glass Factory. “The client wanted something different and usual,” he says. “We brought in these pale greens and pale teals as our accent colors.” The hand-blown spheres are attached to the recessed can light in the ceiling, and “the light shines through the glass orbs. It’s a really cool effect.”
Ways to Save:
Save by having the existing tub repainted and re-porcelained.
Hansgrohe showerhead and body-spray from Immerse Atlas
Molding and trim in Porter Paints’ Silvery Moon
Waterjet tile from Artistic Tile
Steam shower from Steamist
Vanity color: Porter Paints’ Turtle Dove
River shell mosaic tile in the shape of an oval and bought from Artistic Tile
Flooring border from Calcutta Gold
Waterworks mirror from Immerse
Hudson Valley Lighting sconces
Louis from Waterfall vanity
Designer: Corinne Jones
Corinne Jones Interiors
When you spend your days—and often nights—designing other people’s homes, it’s nice to use that talent on your own humble abode. That’s what Corinne Jones did, when she and her husband built a kitchen and master suite addition onto their Ladue cottage, circa 1928.
“We wanted very simple, clean lines, spa-feel,” Jones says. “All my clients are constantly asking for lots of different styles, so I am living with lots of visual influences.”
For her own bath, she wanted serenity and calm—and a color palette of white with walls of French gray lusterstone (applied by Bill Stack of Koch Brothers Decorating). “It’s like a Venetian plaster,” Jones says.
The floor and decorative tile around the tub is white Thassos marble, and the decorative basket-weave tile is by designer Ann Sacks.
“I love the faux effect of the basket weave,” Jones says. “It has a little curve, so it creates another dimension.”
The choice of materials is consistently top-of-the-line—and frequently from across the pond. The hardware throughout the bath came from the British firm Lefroy Brooks. The chandelier is by Vaughan, of London. The cabinetry was custom-designed by Christopher Peacock, also of London.
“I think they are the most beautiful cabinets you can buy,” Jones says, explaining that the company has showrooms in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. “He’s this darling British guy, and he is sort of a genius. He is constantly tweaking, and he doesn’t even know how good he is.”
While most guests end up hanging out in the kitchen, that isn’t the case at the Joneses’ home. “Whenever we have dinner parties, everyone wants to be in the bathroom,” she says. “It turns into the party room.”
Chandelier by Vaughan
Sconces by Palmer Hargrave
Hardware from Lefroy Brooks
White marble slabs by Statuary
Christopher Peacock Cabinets
Basket weave tile by Ann Sachs Tile & Stone
Thassos marble tile around the tub and in the shower
Window over bath: “A higher window creates pure privacy,” Jones says.
Designer: Marcia Moore
11622 Page Service, 314-560-0830
The clients wanted clean lines and a minimalist feel—and designer Marcia Moore was happy to oblige. Her first step was to remove a wall between two sinks and a shower and to create a much more organized space.
“The kids are grown and away at college, and this would mostly be a guest bathroom, so we didn’t need two sinks,” Moore says. “We took out the extra wall, used only one sink, and made more counter and storage space.”
Larger floor and shower tiles calm the space with fewer grout lines to distract the eye. A focal point of the design is the skyline behind the sink, created out of tiles. The vertical tiles are repeated at each end of the shower.
In order to keep the space airy, the Centorbi cabinetry was designed so the lower cabinets do not extend to the floor.
“In bathrooms like this, I love to do the same color on the ceiling because it helps to make the room look bigger,” Moore says. “We wanted to keep the room very neutral, so the owner didn’t have to worry about changing out towels or other accessories. And the tile had great colors to work with.”
Ways to Save:
Save with a standard tub, which costs less than a deep soaking tub.
Save by buying track lighting at a big-box store.
Mirror custom-cut and installed by County Glass & Mirror Co.
Cambria quartz countertops in Sussex, installed by StoneTrends
The floor vent tile is an actual tile cut to the shape of the vent to make for a seamless floor.
Yale Arena tile from The Tile Shop
In the Green
There is no tougher task than taking a negative and turning it into a jaw-dropping positive. The small space forced the designer, Dana King (NEXT Project Studio, 314-914-2840, nextprojectstudio.com), to get creative—and tap several out-of-the-box solutions.
“It is a small kitchen and the homeowner didn’t want to loose any light, so we put the vent hood in front of the window,” King says. That decision gave the narrow space instant character and charm. Another unconventional idea was the ceiling. An old drop ceiling was replaced with bead board and painted green to tie into the glass tile backsplash.
“I hardly ever do white ceilings,” King says. “A kitchen can be almost all cabinets so you don’t have a lot of places to use color, except for the ceiling. It makes the cabinets look great and it is a great place to add color.” Bright green is the homeowner’s favorite shade.
With traditional white cabinets and crown moldings, the homeowner had wanted soapstone to complete the classic look. “Soapstone can be quite expensive so we went with honed black granite, which is more cost effective and easier to maintain,” King says. Awkward leftover spaces were converted for storage, as seen in the insulated wine cabinet next to the stove.
“This was probably one of the hardest kitchen I’ve done,” King says. “But it was a fun challenge.”
Honed Absolute Black granite from Global Granite & Marble.
Pendant lights-Rejuvenation Hardware
Hardware-Amerock Decorative Cabinet Hardware
Cabinets-By Amish Modern for NEXT Project Studio.
Glass subway tile- Bought at ProSource; $7 per square foot.
Glass Grout- “It costs more but you’ll never have a problem with it. Splurge on things that you want to be durable and look good for a long time.”
Hood-Construction Appliance by AUTCOhome. “I go there because they work with you and are creative,” King says.
Flooring-Save $. Kept the original floor.
Lighting-Save $. Do flush-mount lights that give off a lot of light. Xenon under-cabinet lights.
Microwave-Save $. “It was a cost saver and a space saver,” King says.
Ceiling-Save $. The ceiling was very damaged so the beadboard saved money over having to re-drywall the area.
Appliance package-Save $. Get a mix of brands. “I don’t recommend people do this on their own,” King says. “I will look so the things look similar to each other.”
The Looking Glass
They say you can’t take it with you, but in this case maybe you can.
“The homeowner had just finished the bath of her dreams when she got transferred. But luckily she had some left over green glass tile from the renovation, and that was our inspiration,” says Nancy Barrett of Beautiful Homes (314-519-4090, beautifulroomsdesign.com).
The plan was to take the dated, pink master bath and redesign it using several cost saving tricks in order to get the biggest bang for the buck. To remove the existing soaker tub would have been cost prohibitive, so instead the row of old pink accent tile was replaced with the inspiration tile, creating a fresh new look.
“She was thrilled to reuse it as it reminded her of her grand bathroom,” Barrett says. New neutral flooring was added to play off the neutral carpet in the adjoining bedroom and the old awkward vanity was replaced with a smaller option that provided more storage and helped to make the space feel bigger. With a marble top and new sconces, the piece looks more like a dressing vanity rather than just a sink.
To fix the awkward-sized window over the tub, Barrett choose plantation shutters that went all the way down to the tub, creating the illusion of a bigger window. A custom valance was then added with mother of pearl trim, coordinating with the mother of pearl knobs on the vanity. Paying attention to the details helps to achieve a high end look on a modest budget.
“I’m good at helping people find where to spend money and where to save,” says Barrett.
Ways to save:
Barrett used art the homeowner already had in colors that worked with the new space.
Barrett added more economical tile on the floor, with an offset pattern. It looks newer and more custom.
She reused tile from a previous project as an accent on the tub.
Sheept the same bathtub faucet but replaced the brass trim with chrome for minimal cost.
Added a new coat of paint on the walls to freshen the space at a minimal cost.
Places Barrett splurged:
Vanity with marble top
Custom window treatment with mother of pearl trim
Decorative mirror to add something unexpected