Lifelong Passion

photo by Jason Mueller

On any given day, David Richardson’s passion for interior design is put on display at the corner of Euclid and McPherson avenues in the Central West End. As the store director and co-owner with Pete Rothschild of Rothschild’s Antiques and Home Furnishings, Richardson is responsible for buying and staging the high-end, well-traveled pieces that have made the store’s window displays a neighborhood fixture for decades.

LN: How did you become interested in interior design?

DR: I was born and raised on a farm I didn’t even know what an interior designer was! But my mother claims I ruined every piece of furniture she’s ever owned by dragging it around to rearrange it. I really had no inkling of design as a career until my second year of college: I was getting my degree in horticulture, and I realized I didn’t want to do that. When you grow up on a farm, it’s hard to tell your father that you want to be an interior designer! But when I did, my parents said, ‘Oh, how like you!’

LN: Describe your personal style.

DR: I don’t consider myself a traditionalist, but I’m not way out there either. I like traditional furniture, but I mix it up. My absolute favorite styles are Empire and Empire Revival. I’m also very attracted to anything Neo-Classical. I like the architectural elements of those designs they can be very ornate and simplistic at the same time. I also like mid-century modern; it mixes very well with classical. The goal is to not jump over bounds, not to be too far out there. It needs to be attainable and reachable.

LN: Can you remember your first design job?

DR: When I was in college, I worked at Jack Brandt Limited. I was assigned to help a lady pick out furniture, and I thought I was the biggest big shot in the world.

LN: Do you have a pet project?

DR: I work on model homes and real estate staging, and I absolutely love it. The greatest thing about staging is that it’s almost like building a fantasy you have to make people want to live there. Even if it’s just the sheets on the bed, you want people to think, ‘When I live here, I want a beautiful bed.’

LN: When did you begin your partnership with Pete Rothschild?

DR: I’ve been an interior designer since 1980 and moved to St. Louis from Chicago in 1989. I started working at the store and began real estate staging for Pete as well. We partnered in 1997 when I became the store’s director and co-owner.

LN: These days, you do most, if not all, the buying for Rothschild’s. What catches your eye?

DR: It’s very odd how my eye works. Pete is constantly saying, ‘Slow down, slow down.’ I’m constantly scanning. Something will pop at me and say, ‘Come look at me,’ and the process begins. I’d love to buy what I truly love, but when you’re buying for a store especially with the location of ours you get a huge cross section of people who may or may not like what I like.

LN: What’s the most unusual piece you’ve come across?

DR: I had a set of 1920s dressing trunks from a circus clown. They were made of banana crates painted yellow and red. I like things that have a certain amount of innocence and that are not pretentious. I like it when they aren’t quite right. That’s what I like about American Empire even the scale is funky. It’s so wrong, it’s right!