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Reviving a Georgian-Style Treasure in St. Louis

Once a noble wreck, now imbued with light and grace

Written by Candace Ord Manroe
  • Werner Straube

    New York designer Marshall Watson feared the worst. Clients Amy and Bill Koman were set on ripping out the original black and white marble entry tiles in their Georgian-style St. Louis home. Designed in 1922 by architect Edward F. Nolte, the house had fallen into disrepair, but it remained architecturally important. From the slate roof and detailed limestone friezes and arches to the stone-railed brick terraces and interior marble floor tiles, its parts were good even if the sum failed to reach its potential.

    “I told them that people in London and Paris would die for that tile,” Watson recalls. “I said they just needed to restore this house. The architecture would shine through.”

    A repeat client, Amy listened. When Watson said the magic words—“we will bring in decorative elements to make it more youthful, more with the times”—she acquiesced. “I loved keeping the integrity, but I also wanted to bring our current lifestyle to this house,” she says.

    As a “noble wreck,” the house was intact but in need of TLC and updates. Watson reinvigorated all the rooms (plus he designed the interior of the new great-room addition). Fortunately, he was able to retain all of the original architecture in the living room. “I loved the old stone fireplace and plasterwork,” the designer says. Despite the heaviness of the wood, the room feels light, with pale carpet and upholstery. Amy and Watson were in agreement: The art must sing. “We designed it so the art, the architecture, and the colors did not compete but reinforced each other,” explains Watson. A blue-gray palette keeps the room warm but neutral.

    “This is where we entertain,” says Amy. “Candlelight parties are very pretty with the reflections on the silver accents. It’s designed so people can gravitate to their own little seating areas and socialize.” Bill, a real estate developer, philanthropist, and two-time lymphoma survivor, is a major fundraiser for cancer research. The Komans’ living room is his favorite venue for events. “It’s a great place to host meetings rather than going to a restaurant,” says Amy. “It can accommodate a lot of people.”

    A space Amy admired in a Neiman Marcus catalog inspired the dining room’s backdrop. “We had a painter copy the strié gray-green wall color,” she says. The painter began with a blue base topped with beige strié that was then trimmed with silver leaf atop gold—a month of painting. The resulting paneled walls have a quintessential Louis XVI look but also offer a freshness ushered in by views through three arch-topped French doors that lead to the terrace and garden.

    Watson found “the perfect antique table” from a Long Island estate, then adapted Louis J. Solomon chairs by adding stretchers to their oval backs. “The stretchers give the Louis XVI-style chairs the look of an original,” he says.

    To match their lifestyle, the Komans, an athletic couple with three daughters, turned a formal sitting room into a good-times family room. “This is where we put the Christmas tree each year,” says Amy. “It’s where we light a fire and watch movies.” Watson’s task was to lighten the room. “It’s in the center of the house and was very dark, with ebony moldings. I wanted to keep it rich but comfortable,” he explains.

    A Scottish sideboard and diamond-back chairs create the desired architectural presence. “I love my diamond-back chairs because they are comfortable while also looking good from the front and the back, so they can float in the room,” notes the designer. With Amy’s art collection and the Japanese-style coffee table, the family room “has a wonderful English coziness to it with an eclectic feel,” muses Watson.

    To further meet the family’s needs, the team built an addition onto the kitchen to serve as a great room where the Komans’ three daughters can do homework and be close to Amy as she prepares meals. “The Scandinavian design works with the Georgian-style architecture because both reference the 18th century,” notes Watson.

    In the private spaces, the spirit shifts a bit from entertaining to intimate, but the mood remains welcoming. The master bedroom is all about chilling. “I like its quiet colors—no bright artwork,” says Amy. “When you look out the windows, you see the fountains, the big oaks, and the ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas. I read at night to calm down, so I wanted a bedroom that was calming.” Watson’s take on the space: “Not Zen modern but Zen with patina.”

    Watson credits the original architecture as the root of the restoration’s success. “Gracious scale, the flow of the rooms, the heights of the ceilings, and the quality of details all begged for a classic approach with clean lines. There is a beautiful sense of proportion created in the 1920s that these architects from the Beaux Arts period truly understood. Seldom do you have the honor to work on a house like this with such beautiful bones.” Watson and the Komans brought those bones back to life.

    Photography: Werner Straube   
    Produced by Mary Anne Thomson

    Architect: Lauren Strutman, Lauren Strutman Architects, 16676 Old Chesterfield Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017; 636/537-1027, laurenstrutmanarchitects.com.
    Interior design: Marshall Watson, Marshall Watson Interiors, 105 W. 72nd St., Suite 9B, New York, NY 10023; 212/595-5995, marshallwatsoninteriors.com.
    Landscape architect: Gay Goessling, Goessling Design, 1005 McKnight Road, St. Louis, MO 63117; 314/569-0900, goesslingdesign.com.
    Contractor: Kevin Sanders, K.V. Sanders Co., P.O. Box 833, Chesterfield, MO 63006; 636/227-3335, kvsanders.com
    Original architect: Edward F. Nolte (1870-1944).

    Chandelier (“Russian Chandelier” #10-00494-3506 ): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, niermannweeks.com.
    Decorative finish on original paneling: Judy Mulligan Inc., 908/879-6728.
    Dining table (antique, French C. 1910): owner’s collection.
    Chairs (Louis XVI): Louis J. Solomon, 631/232-5300, louisjsolomon.com.
    Chair fabric (discontinued): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, robertallendesign.com.
    Area rug (Aubusson): Stark Carpet, 212/752-9000, starkcarpet.com.

     
  • Werner Straube

    Dining Room Details

    The Aubusson carpet and elaborate chandelier, both from Niermann Weeks, and the Louis XVI-style chairs give the dining room an 18th-century look.

    Chest (antique, c. 1910); mirror (antique): owner’s collection.
    Sconces (“Russian Sconce” #11-00292-0902): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, niermannweeks.com.
    Chair (antique): owner’s collection.
    Chair cushion (#5274-6, by Rose Cumming): Dessin Fournir, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com.
    Turine (antique Wedgwood, style: 1890 Transferware): owner’s collection.
    Lavender chargers (discontinued): Pottery barn, 800/922-5507, potterybarn.com.
    Silver-rimmed plates (discontinued): Barneys New York, barneys.com.
    Pedestal vase (discontinued): Arhaus, 866/427-4287, arhaus.com.
    Glassware (antique); silverware (antique): owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube

    Living Room

    The fireplace and plaster crown moldings are original to the house. Matching sofas and lounge chairs are by O. Henry House

    Wall covering (discontinued): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880, brunschwig.com
    Sofas (#5000-90): O. Henry House, 336/431-5350, ohenryhouseltd.com.
    Sofa fabric (#NC8410-97): Nancy Corzine, 212/223-8340, nancycorzine.com.
    Fabrication: Joe Upholstery, 212/290-2188.
    Pillows: Arabelle Taggart, 212/980-6663, arabelletaggart.com.
    Armless chairs (antique): owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric: Innovations, 800/227-8053, innovationsusa.com.
    Round table behind armless chair (vintage Louis XVI walnut/marble bouillotte table): Clark Graves Antiques, 314/725-2695, clarkgravesantiques.com.
    Rug (kilim): antique.
    Coffee table (decorative painting by Jeff Severson): designed and fabricated by Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995, marshallwatsoninteriors.com.
    Vases on coffee table (discontinued): Crate & Barrel, 800/996-9960, crateandbarrel.com.
    Vase with flowers (antique, Chinese): owner’s collection.
    Lounge chairs by fireplace (#223-T): O. Henry House, 336/431-5350, ohenryhouseltd.com.
    Chair fabric (discontinued): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, robertallendesign.com.
    Pillow in lounge chair: owner’s collection.
    Painting over fireplace (Chenal, by Phillippe Vasseur): One Art World, oneartworld.com.
    Sconces (French Rococco-style): vintage.
    Fireplace: Indiana limestone.
    Mantel; fireplace fender: original to house.
    Paneling: original oak, stained.
    Tall cabinet in corner (antique); silver (antique): owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube

    Entry

    After expressing their fears that the house would seem stuffy and dated, Watson convinced the Komans not to tear out the original black and white marble flooring in the entry hall.

    Details on the following slide.

    Sconces; chest; chairs: antique.
    Chair-seat fabric (discontinued): Hinson & Co., through Donghia, 800/366-4442, donghia.com.
    Flooring (black and white marble): original to house.
    Mirror (antique, French, c. 1830): Clark Graves Antiques, 314/725-2695, clarkgravesantiques.com.
    Hanging light: Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Oriental rug (silk, Tabric, c. 1950): owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube

    Entry Details

    Beautiful antique Italian chairs stand in the entry hall.

  • Werner Straube

    Family Room

    Dark paneling was painted to lighten the space, anchored by an antique Scottish sideboard.

    Sideboard under painting (Scottish mahogany, c. 1850): antique.
    Lamps on sideboard (Lotus glass column lamps): Vaughan, 212/319-7070, vaughandesigns.com.
    Stools under sideboard (“Petit Plateau” by Marshall Watson): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028, ef-lm.com.
    Stool fabric (#10828-05): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900, cowtan.com.
    Art over sideboard (Untitled Horse, by Joe Andoe, silkscreen): Joe Andoe, joeandoe.com.
    Box under art (antique): Clark Graves Antiques, 314/725-2695, clarkgravesantiques.com.
    Pair of chairs (“Dolcetto Bergere” #CH5017); club chairs (“Marshall Club Chair,” Marshall Watson Collection): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028, ef-lm.com.
    Fabric on front of Dolcetto bergère (#HW0838GP): Hinson & Co., through Donghia, 800/366-4442, donghia.com.
    Fabric on back of Dolcetto bergère (#402634, by Travers); club chair fabric (#403082, by Travers ): Zimmer + Rohde, 212/758-7925, zimmer-rohde.com. Through Thomas Lavin, 310/278-2456, thomaslavin.com.
    Sofa (“Gainsborough Sofa”): Dennis & Leen, 310/652-0855. Available through Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Sofa fabric (#HW0801-KB): Hinson & Co., through Donghia, 800/366-4442, donghia.com.
    Coffee table: Baker, 800/592-2537, bakerfurniture.com.
    Art on wall to left of sofa (Untitled, by Michael Burkhemer, acrylic on paper): owner’s collection.
    Hanging light (“Montecito Lantern”): Formations, 310/659-3062, formationsusa.com, through Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Large area rug (“Pueblo,” sisal): Beauvais Carpets, 212/688-2265, beauvaiscarpets.com.
    Oriental rug (antique): owner’s collection.
    Lamp by sofa (#RL17166GL): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674, ralphlaurenhome.com.
    Drapery (“Belgique Velvet”): Innovations, 800/227-8053, innovationsusa.com.
    Drapery border (#HW0784-J): Hinson & Co., through Donghia, 800/366-4442, donghia.com.
    Sheers (#81275-0): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880, brunschwig.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Family Room

    Chairs from designer Marshall Watson’s collection for Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman feature diamond-shaped detailing on their backs and nestle around a coffee table by Baker.

  • Werner Straube

    Pool House Exterior

    The pool house was built as a self-contained entertaining space separate from the main house. “Amy and Bill asked me to come up with a design for the pool house that integrated the gracious qualities of the beautiful Georgian house, the landscape, and its location on the property,” says designer Marshall Watson. The façade at the back of the main house was adapted for the front of the pool house.

    Pool: Pooltron, 314/428-0567, pooltron.com.
    Chairs (#CH234): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028, ef-lm.com.
    Chair fabric (#800-27): Perennials, 888/322-4773, perennialsfabrics.com.
    Pillows on chairs: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, restorationhardware.com.
    Table: Lexington Gardens, 212/861-4390, lexingtongardensnyc.com.
    Ottoman (custom): Joe Upholstery, 212/290-2188.
    Ottoman fabric (#500-15): Perennials, 888/322-4773, perennialsfabrics.com.
    Exterior light (“Devonshire Lantern” #414681): Fine Art Lamps, 305/821-3850, fineartlamps.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Pool House Interior

    Light and airy, the interior incorporates elements from the main house—like the vaulted wood ceiling of the great room—while allowing for maximum sunlight and open space. The resulting effect is similar to a Scandinavian pavilion.

    Pedestal table (“Louis XVI Fluted Base” #DL-DT08); hanging light (“Regent Lantern” #DL-LN14C): Dennis & Leen, 310/652-0855. Through Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Iron dolphin planters flanking door (vintage): Center 44, 212/450-7988, center44.com.
    Flooring (limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Sconces (custom): Architrove, 631/329-2229, architrove.com.
    Walls and ceiling: lightly glazed poplar.

  • Werner Straube

    Pool House Kitchen

    The cabinets are raised to the ceiling for elegance and drama. A wide entry seamlessly opens the room to the main space.

    Cabinetry design (custom): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995, marshallwatsoninteriors.com.
    Cabinetry (Omega custom maple, with opaque finish, beaded inset doors and drawer fronts): Callier & Thompson, 636/391-9099, callierandthompson.com.
    Countertop (2cm Calcutta Oro with 4-inch backsplash); flooring (12x12-inch Texas Mist with Calcutta Oro cabochons on diagonal): Midwest Tile, 888/936-1249, midwesttile.com.
    Drawer pulls (#9451): Omnia Industries, omniaindustries.com.
    Sink (#K-3325): Kohler, 800/456-4537, kohler.com.
    Faucet (#R77V3): Rohl, 800/777-9762, rohlhome.com.
    Roman shade (“Gordian Weave”/Natural on Greige #2643921): Schumacher, 800/523-1200, fschumacher.com.
    Fabricaton: Designer First, 314/432-7095.
    Cooktop (#KM404): Miele, 800/843-7231, mieleusa.com.
    Oven (“Epicure Single Wall Oven”): Dacor, 800/793-0093, dacor.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Pool House Living Area

    The space has dual utility—ideal for elegant entertaining, yet just as appropriate for kids in wet swimming suits to towel off after a dip in the pool. The furniture is upholstered in outdoor fabric for minimal maintenance. Artwork hanging above is a relief on paper by Mary Judge.

    Flooring (tumbled Texas limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Walls and ceiling: lightly glazed poplar.
    Table (designed by Marshall Watson); banquette (designed by Marshall Watson): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995, marshallwatsoninteriors.com.
    Banquette fabrication: Joe Upholstery, 212/290-2188.
    Banquette fabric (#504/01): Pollack, 212/627-7766, pollackassociates.com.
    Pillows on banquette (#1088-01): Zoffany, 800/894-6185, zoffany.com.
    Pillow fabrication: Arabelle Taggart, 212/980-6663, arabelletaggart.com.
    Chairs: customized vintage chairs.
    Chair fabric (bath towels, custom monogram): Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, restorationhardware.com.
    Sconces (custom): Architrove, 631/329-2229, architrove.com.
    Art (Untitled, by Mary Judge): Mary Judge, maryjudge.com.
    Napkins: Crate & Barrel, 800/996-9960, crateandbarrel.com.
    Basket tray on table: owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube

    Pool House Bath

    The bath contains generous shower space and monogrammed towels for spa-like serenity.

    Cabinetry (designed by Marshall Watson): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995, marshallwatsoninteriors.com.
    Sconce (“French Deco Horn Sconce” #S2020PN-L, by Visual Comfort): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323, circalighting.com.
    Towels (custom monogrammed); rug: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, restorationhardware.com.
    Wood blinds: Hunter Douglas, 800/274-2985, hunterdouglas.com.
    Flooring (tumbled Texas limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Wall covering (“Haiku” #MHK-2305): Designtex, 800/221-1540, designtex.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Portrait

    Homeowners Amy and Bill Koman.

  • Werner Straube

    Home Exterior

    When the Komans purchased the 1922 home, it still retained its architectural appeal but needed a revitalization of the interiors.

  • Werner Straube

    Great Room

    A whitewashed vaulted wood ceiling and simple drapery panels encase this cozy window-wrapped family space. The fireplace surround in the addition mimics the architecture found elsewhere in the house.

    Sofa (“Marshall Loveseat,” Marshall Watson Collection): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028, ef-lm.com.
    Sofa fabric (#HW-0868-GB, by Hinson): through Donghia, 800/366-4442, donghia.com.
    Pillows on sofa (“Zahra”/Blue): TylerGraphic, 212/924-6693, tylergraphic.com.
    Fabrication: Arabelle Taggart, 212/980-6663, arabelletaggart.com.
    Lamps behind sofa: vintage.
    Lampshades: custom.
    Club chairs (custom): Joe Upholstery, 212/290-2188.
    Chair fabric (#2092-03): Rose Tarlow, 323/651-2202, rosetarlow.com.
    Coffee table (“Tavolino Table”); mantel (“Luberon”) Formations, 310/659-3062, formationsusa.com. Through Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Chandelier (antique): Objets Plus Inc., 212/832-3386, objetsplus.com.
    Drapery (#1027-04): Jim Thompson, 800/262-0336, jimthompsonfabrics.com.
    Sheers (“Delicacy”/Cream): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, robertallendesign.com.
    Fabrication: Designer First, 314/432-7095.
    Art over fireplace (I Got Off The Train, by Lawrence Carroll, oil on canvas): Lawrence Carroll, acegallery.net.
    Wall treatment (rough plaster wall with straw cut into plaster for texture): Judy Mulligan Inc., 908/879-6728.
    Rug (custon, ribbed banana silk): Marc Phillips Rugs, 212/752-4275, marcphillipsrugs.com.
    Flooring (oak, herringbone pattern): Patina Old World Flooring, 805/648-7521, patinawoodfloors.com.
    Decorative treatment on walls (custom plaster/cut straw): Judy Mulligan Inc., 908/879-6728.

  • Werner Straube

    Powder Room

    Decorative artist Judy Mulligan painted the floor design, which salutes both the architectural medallions in the living room and the checkerboard floor design in the entry. “When you work with a house this beautiful, I try to stand back and let the house tell us what to do, to let it shine,” says Watson.

    Cabinet (antique, Biedermeier, c. 1850); mirror (antique, Biedermeier, c. 1850): Clark Graves Antiques, 314/725-2695, clarkgravesantiques.com.
    Countertop: antique marble.
    Sink (“Marzi” china undermount sink): Waterworks, 800/899-6757, waterworks.com.
    Faucet (“Town Basin Set,” by Michael S Smith): Kallista, 888/452-5547, kallista.com.
    Sconces (custom): Remains Lighting, 212/675-8051, remains.com.
    Sconce shades: custom.
    Decorative treatment on wall (custom glaze); decorative treatment on floor (custom painting): Judy Mulligan, 908/879-6728.

  • Werner Straube

    Master Bedroom

    Neutral colors and classic pieces create a calming atmosphere in the master bedroom. An elegant four-poster and a cane-back gilded French settee dominate the space.

    Bed (“Louis XVI Canopy Bed” #00596 -ON-92): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, niermannweeks.com.
    Headboard fabric (#1827-8): Bergamo Fabrics, 212/888-3333, bergamofabrics.com.
    Euro shams (“Roma”/Slate Blue): Beacon Hill, 800/333-3777, beaconhilldesign.com.
    Pillow fabrication: Arabelle Taggart, 212/980-6663, arabelletaggart.com.
    Coverlet fabric (#7700B-0512): Stroheim, 800/763-0524, stroheim.com.
    Settee (c.1920): vintage.
    Pillow on settee: antique heirloom.
    Rug (kilim, wool and silk): custom.
    Pedestal table (antique, c. 1870, rosewood): Clark Graves Antiques, 314/725-2695, clarkgravesantiques.com.
    Hanging lantern (#AC-181): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028, ef-lm.com.
    Chest beside bed (“Danish Commode”): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, niermannweeks.com.
    Lamp on chest: vintage.
    Art behind chest (Untitled, by Kenneth Wood, ink and paint on paper): owner’s collection.
    Drapery (#1533/02, by Great Plains): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
    Trim (#977-33412/1): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000, samuelandsons.com.
    Roman shades (#93105-08): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068. Through Delany & Long, 203/532-0010, delanyandlong.com.
    Fabrication: Designer First, 314/432-7095.
    Chair in window (Italian-style, c. 1920): vintage.
    Sconce: antique heirloom.

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