Dining in Style at Bar Les Frères

We can think of no cozier place to spend a winter’s evening than Bar Les Frères, Zoe Robinson’s newest creation and one of the most charming and romantic new dining spots in St. Louis. When it came to the interior design, Robinson was ably assisted by David Richardson, who also worked on the interior of I Fratellini, one of Robinson’s other celebrated restaurants and located just across Wydown Boulevard from Les Frères. (Les Frères and I Fratellini are French and Italian for “the brothers,” a nod to Robinson’s two sons.) Located in a vintage building that was home to a shoe repair business for more than 80 years, the walls of Bar Les Frères are bathed in a decadent red that glows in the twinkling light of vintage crystal chandeliers. Adding to the turn-of-the-century Parisian vibe are all things vintage, including marble-topped tables, white leather banquettes, oil paintings in gilt frames, glassware, and a zinc bar over which a herd of vintage mounted deer antlers keeps watch. One can’t help but think Les Frères is exactly the kind of spot that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to hang out.

The Woman’s Exchange to Relocate and Re-decorate in May

The Woman's Exchange of St. Louis will relocate in May from its old location on Clayton Road to the Desco Group’s renovated Colonial Marketplace, formerly Lammert’s Center, at the intersection of Ladue Road and Gay Avenue on the border of Clayton and Ladue. The new location provides substantially more space for the organization’s philanthropic activities, primarily providing training and work for individuals through consignment within its on-premise tea room and clothing and accessories shops.

The Woman’s Exchange’s new location is distinguished by gracious Williamsburg-style architecture and will boast a fresh new interior design befitting the facility. The design work was spearheaded by Women’s Exchange board member Lisa Cady and Rindy Fitzgibbon. Candace Williams is president of The Woman's Exchange.

This is the seventh move for The Woman’s Exchange, which celebrates its 130th anniversary in 2013. It first opened its doors in September 1883 at 214 N. Sixth Street as a marketplace for women to earn a livelihood through the sale of their handmade goods, and quickly became a destination for shoppers seeking high-quality merchandise. It moved to a second location at 617 Locust Street in 1884, and again in 1898 to the corner of 10th and Olive Streets. In 1899, The Woman’s Exchange moved to the North Grand area near Vandeventer Place, and in 1917 to Euclid Avenue in the Central West End. In 1962, The Woman’s Exchange moved to 1 Maryland Plaza before settling at 9214 Clayton Road in 1974.

American Tastemaker Aerin Lauder Introduces Home Décor Line

If you have yet to see the new AERIN line of new home décor by Aerin Lauder, you’re in for a big treat. Inspired by the cosmetic heiress’ signature style of effortless chic, the new brand has a distinctly modern, top-of-the-line look. The AERIN Home Objet collection debuted last fall at select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores. The initial collection includes little luxuries like green agate coasters, gorgeous decorative geodes, porcelain nesting floral bowls, Italian crystal carafe and glasses, sea urchins, starfish and shells---all trimmed or dipped in either 18- or 24-karat gold. Going forward, the AERIN line is only going to get bigger and better. This spring, Lauder also will introduce a fabric collection for Lee Jofa, furniture for E. J. Victor, and lighting for Visual Comfort & Co. (aerin.com)

Soft Surroundings Unveils New Home Furnishings Collection

St. Louis-based Soft Surroundings, a retailer of comfortable clothing, bedding and beauty products, has expanded into furniture and home décor. The initial offering is called the Retreat Collection and features French reproduction furniture and décor inspired by antiques and vintage items acquired in Provence. The company has devoted an entire catalog, Soft Surroundings Retreat, to the new home furnishings line. The merchandise also is available online at softsurroudnigns.com and at 10 retail stores, including the St. Louis location on The Boulevard in Richmond Heights.

“For years, our customers have asked us for the furniture, rugs, paintings – even the dogs from our catalog photography,” says Robin Sheldon, president and co-founder of Soft Surroundings. “We’ve always done our best to find the sources and pass them on. We finally realized that by not having these things readily available to our customers, we weren’t providing the experience we want them to have.”

Soft Surroundings released its first catalog in 1999 and opened its first retail location in St. Louis in 2005, followed by nine additional locations nationwide.

Laundry Rooms Go Over the Top

When it comes to home renovations, one of the biggest trends for 2013 is over-the-top laundry rooms. That’s the word from Jenny Rausch, president of Karr Bick Kitchen + Bath, who had three renovation projects featured in national publications last year. We asked Rausch to bring us up to date on the upscale laundry room trend with the hope of finding something interesting about this never-ending chore.

What’s fueling the trend: Houzz and Pinterest have really opened up a portal to the fairy world of laundry rooms where the sky's the limit and you can see spaces in which almost every bell and whistle has been explored. Once you’re exposed, you have to have it! The ideas and images get stuck in your mind and you start to think how wonderful such a mundane task could become.

Popular styles: Sometimes elegant, other times whimsical or beachy, and often times very efficient—a place where everything has a place and typically the entire space is very well thought out. You can explore your personality a bit more in this room because typically it’s just one family member running the show, unlike a kitchen or bath where you have to compromise.

Laundry room bells and whistles: Fold-out ironing boards, special cubbies for laundry baskets, drying rack hideaways, pull-down dry cleaning rods, wrapping paper drawers, craft storage, hidden laundry units, folding stations, pull-out trash, specialty sinks, sewing centers, big screen TVs, dog food storage....I could go on and on.

The most over-the-top laundry room she’s designed: I’ve done laundry rooms with glass tile, marble counter tops, and crystal chandeliers! If you love an expensive backsplash tile, the good news is in a laundry, you probably won't need that much of it.

How she justifies the expense: Here's the thing: If you make it beautiful, you can make the argument you will go in there more, the laundry will get done, and you won't be as grumpy about doing it! The other argument I will help you make to a significant other who is helping flip the bill is: The more beautiful it is, the more likely you will be to keep everything spotless because you love to look at it! Take it from me—my laundry room has never looked so good! Pay attention to all the details---knobs, tile, cabinets, paint and accessories. Invest in a good lock on the door, too! It's not just a laundry--- it can be a sanctuary.

Stark Home Comes to St. Louis Via Allen Interior Furnishings

Known for both high design and superb quality, the Stark Carpet brand has long been a favorite of professional interior designers, who until now had to travel to New York or Chicago to see the line. Recently, however, St. Louis became one of a handful of U.S. cities to boast its very own Stark Home dealership. The new Stark Home is located at Allen Interior Furnishings in Rock Hill, a leading carpet and area rug resource for St. Louis designers for more than two decades. With the opening of Stark Home, St. Louis-based designers can now quickly and easily view actual swatches of the colors and patterns they are considering for high-end jobs, thanks to a new custom-made display filled with generously sized samples of wool, jute, sisal, sea grass and silk. Stark offers a wide range of noteworthy designs, including a classic white pattern that resembles a piece of fine woolen needlework, to florals and high impact geometrics in a range of fashion-forward colors. Stark Carpet played a key design role in last fall's Ladue News Show House, where a bold brown-and-white geometric graced the stairway and second-floor corridor.

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