St. Louis natives have a strong connection to their city. So many a St. Louisan go off to college or accept a job elsewhere; but somehow, at some point in their lives, they return to their roots. Amy Lefton is one of those people.

After moving to Chicago for post-secondary education and embracing the big-city life, her journey took a turn a few years back and she came home to St. Louis. It really was about family that brought her back to the city in which she was raised. Her mother and siblings were here, and it made sense to raise her newborn twins near them.

The hunt for the family’s new home also took a surprising turn. In the Windy City, Lefton had a condominium and loved the carefree life that type of living afforded. Of course, her initial efforts in St. Louis involved finding something similar to settle in to. Lefton looked and looked and looked, but nothing was ‘clicking.’ It was then when she decided that maybe a house was the way to go.

Lefton found a house in Clayton that had potential, but she really didn’t think it was ‘the one.’ After exhausting all the other options on the market, Lefton went back to the house in Clayton and looked at it through the eyes of possibility. She then decided that this 1920s stucco facade home was indeed ‘the one.’ Her family, however, was less convinced.

After all, this was a rather large home: 5,800 square feet that included a pool house and a guesthouse over the garage; a large, ¾-acre lot; and an in-ground pool—not a minor undertaking for a single parent of twins!

Not to mention that about 10 years ago, the home had undergone what some may define as a ‘conglomeration of styles and tastes.’ The main level was fairly straightforward contemporary and required minimal renovation, but the upstairs definitely was the result of a strong Asian-spa-design theme. “The house definitely had two different personalities,” Lefton proclaims. Indeed, the exterior was a cross between Tuscan and Palm Beach Revival, the landscaping was haphazard and the front door was just plain wrong.

Enter Lefton’s longtime designer, Shelly Handman of Handman Associates from Chicago. Their designer/client relationship had been so successful in the past that to bring him in for this facelift not only was necessary, but also a treat, according to Lefton. Helen Lee of Tao + Lee in St. Louis was consulted for all architectural changes required.

Lefton wanted this home to be kid-friendly, and also have the ability to incorporate the things she loved from her previous home. All of the new ‘leather’ fabrics were faux, and fun things were done for the kids’ spaces, such as painting a wall in the children’s playroom with chalkboard paint so they can “go to town” with their artistic endeavors.

In reconfiguring the master suite, Handman created an award-winning master bathroom for Lefton that replaced the six-seater tub that was previously installed. The use of linen for most of the draperies, as well as on the master bedroom walls, keeps the house young and fresh. Handman also is a genius at mixing high-end furnishings from top vendors with fun accessories from moderate resources like CB2. Handman also unified the spaces through paint choices, lighting and fabrics.

Lefton almost always agreed with her designer on choices, with the exception of a carpet: He acquiesced to her choice for a rug from Crate & Barrel for the TV room. They had to put two rugs together to keep the scale correct; but when it was installed, Handman loved the result as much as Lefton did! It is a stunner!

All in all, Lefton says, “This house is a lot of maintenance, but so worth it when I see my kids playing in the backyard!”

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