The best interior design projects go beyond updating furnishings or painting walls a different color. Instead, they re-imagine a space entirely and enhance how people interact with it, live in it and enjoy it.
Local design firm ADJ Interiors did just that with its Huntleigh “vault” project. The renovation transformed the basement of St. Louis metro area clients into an enchanted escape that harkens back to the heyday of Prohibition style – all built on trust established from a previous project.
“We’ve worked with these clients for three years, maybe four,” says April Jensen, founder and interior designer at ADJ. “After the original purchase of the home, they hired us to do the upstairs, but we weren’t touching the basement.”
That changed once the client saw the finished product. ADJ had reworked the upstairs to serve as an ode to French country elegance, with streamlined modernity. The design firm’s clients loved it so much that ADJ was entrusted to gut the home’s lower level and completely renovate it. The task? Stay in sync with the upstairs but create a place that’s great for kids, family time and other fun.
Today, the vault stands as its own striking work despite the many details that perfectly fit the sophistication found upstairs, from a marble-topped table sitting in one room to textured upholstery throughout to other refined seating choices.
Among the first challenges faced by the design team for this project were the low ceilings. To open the space, ADJ painted the walls a darker color and left the ceiling white to elevate the space, which adds a moody element without feeling claustrophobic. Other details – such as pinstripe wallpaper in the family room, which seamlessly complements the quilted sectional that frames the area – give the vault a Gatsby-esque life of its own, while still pairing well with the upstairs.
Meanwhile, the soundproof theater room elevates the movie-watching experience for this family and their guests by using velvet sectionals and chaise lounges alongside charcoal sheepskin rugs, gold leaf shagreen wallpaper on the ceiling and deco-inspired sconces. To top it off, the theater comes equipped with an assortment of candy inspired by the cinema.
Step out to find a nearby tile wall that showcases a prominent gold emblem, which became one of Jensen’s favorite details.
“That tile was very, very expensive, so we treated it as art,” she says. “It’s the first thing you see when you come down the stairs. See that amazing tile, walk down this beautiful walnut herringbone floor, the kitchenette, the movie theater candies – it’s really kind of a play on all your senses.”
The final product also includes a powder room, home gym, kitchenette, billiards room and more. Each little detail in every room was painstakingly considered, Jensen explains. Not only does the payoff for these efforts look incredible but also Jensen takes pride in knowing the vault actually serves its multitude of purposes well.
“I know that these spaces function, which is so important to me,” she says. “This project was almost more personal than others in the sense that they trusted us so much.”
The responsibility that came with the clients’ trust is something the team took seriously.
“Because they said we could do whatever we wanted, we wanted to deliver in such an amazing way,” Jensen says. “It had to function first and foremost, but to be able to create such a textured, completely enveloping space that transports you – it’s very unique. We really, really wanted to create an environment that was magical and special.”
Jensen says the clients probably thank ADJ every other month. They loved the first and second phases so much that ADJ is now working on a third phase with the Huntleigh property. The project this time? Redoing the master suite, and expanding the hearth room and exterior living space.
“They just love what we do,” Jensen says. “We listened to them and took their needs and wants and gave them something they couldn’t even dream of. And they were all in. When you have that kind of freedom, it really is up to what your imagination and the people you work with can achieve.”
ADJ Interiors, 2800 S. Brentwood Ave., Floor 3, St. Louis, 314-230-9099, adjinteriors.com