#stl365 – The Refind Room

Room VignetteLast month we posted about our STL365 campaign and whats it is all about. This week we would like to start our campaign off with The Refind Room:

The Refind Room is a furniture and home accessories store selling an eclectic collection of carefully selected, quality, previously owned items that look great in today’s homes. From mid-century to vintage to modern, The Refind Room offers customers a wide variety of styles from which to choose. It’s goal is to provide customers with unique quality pieces that cannot be found elsewhere, at affordable prices.


Room Vignette

All pieces are displayed in “room” vignettes, so that customers can visualize how each piece can be incorporated into their homes and with their existing furniture. The Refind Room is located in the old Brentwood Theater and holds design seminars, craft shows, art openings, and other events throughout the year.”



Room VignetteThe Refined Room is located at: 
2525 S. Brentwood Blvd
Brentwood MO 63144
314-962-room (7666)
You can stay connected with The Refined Room on:
If you have a place that you’d like to have your favorite local resource featured please send us your contact information at designspeakstl@gmail.com

A Gem of a Rug Destination by Kieara Crisp


My plan was to do my next blog  on a store that was completely opposite to the places I visited before. Consequently, Centro, the center for the Gucci and Louis Vutton brands of the home furnishing world located in the Central West End, was my original destination.  Literally 30 seconds before arriving I was sidetracked by Buddha; he was sitting calmly on the middle of a table facing me as though he was patiently awaiting my arrival. A skylight located above him directed soft natural light around him and a gorgeous 9 x 12 oriental rug hanging directly behind him.

I find most oriental rugs to be too distracting for my taste, but this one was different; negative space was a part of the design and not just the outcome of left over space from the motifs.The colors on this rug had a distinct hue to them that made it appear bright and alive without demanding attention. From my experience, rug shops are suppose to be large warehouses with huge piles lying everywhere. This store is only a tenth of the size of a small warehouse and uses half of the space and prime real estate to display only five rugs.

Intrigued, I walked into the store and was instantly welcomed by a yorkshire terrier. After I was cleared entrance, I was allowed to go behind Buddha and interviewed again, this time by a  standard poodle, while another one watched sleepily on a pile of rugs. Note your second interview will not go by as smoothly as the first since the poodle is still a ‘baby’ but you will be saved by Greg Halbert the owner. Mr. Halbert is the reason I am now in love with blogging. Talking to someone with so much passion, love, and knowledge fills you with the same emotions, even if you do not feel the same about the subject. His emotions were contagious!

Halbert’s rugs are collectables you could use in your space for decades, without loosing any value because they are ‘bullet proof’. They are made the exact way rugs were made 2,500 years ago. With yarn and dyes, rugs made by hand and natural materials. It takes up to six months to complete one rug. Halbert says they are an investment unlike synthetic rugs which do not increase in value over time and will not last as long. All of Halbert’s rugs come from a closed market. This means the designers and artisans of these rugs have total control over what they create; they send him a picture of what they made and the price.

Halbert told me a story about the Ford Granada that was built in the 1970’s to look like a Mercedes to compare his rugs to most of the rugs on the market. His simple question afterwards was, which car do you think people are still driving around today? If you appreciate art, craftsmanship,  and beauty, I highly encourage a visit. That is if your not allergic to  dogs and are not afraid of a standard poodle constantly showing you love and affection. ( that is, after winning his approval).

For more information, please visit…


The Blodgett Lighthouse…an experience like no other by Kieara Crisp


In-house design consultation, custom lamp design and repair, and professional installation are just a few of the many services available at the Blodgett Lighthouse. With over 30 years of experience, the lighthouse claims to be more than just another lighting store. According to them, they are your only lighting store. Quick disclaimer: If you are looking for professional help when it comes to selecting a lighting fixture and want a piece that sits quietly in the background, this is not the place for you. If you want expert advice and have a desire for a fixture that speaks to you, your client, and/or a specific project, look no farther.

Initially, I took The Lighthouse’s bold claim of being, “the only lighting store you need,” as a challenge. When I entered the building I was flooded with an odd sensation, which continued while walking around the store  (literally ever inch of the store is covered by a lamp, fixture, or the components to make one) and couldn’t decide if my feelings were a good or bad thing.

Because the Blodgett Lighthouse is set up like a museum with every collection on display, you have to give yourself adequate time to take it all in. If you don’t take the time, you would fail to notice how the motion-sensored lamps were constructed from vintage jars, bottles, and cans. Sure you would see the typical pendent fixture made with colored glass, but would completely miss the vintage and contemporary factory lamps (3x times cheaper than most without a loss of quality) to the right. Did that bright yellow sticker imply that they could turn any strange item I desire into a lamp? Why yes, yes it did.


Custom fixtures go beyond picking a different color than what is stocked. After fully appreciating what this means; all the cords, wires, and screws sitting neatly on the shelves start to scream creative potential and possibility. The staff here is friendly, funny, and completely obsessed with their job; these lighting gurus know what they are doing!  If you want a piece that sits quietly in the background, theres a lamp for that here as well. Good luck finding it. You may find yourself hours later coming up with items that spontaneously need to be turned into a wall sconce to go inside the future home of an unknown client… just in case.

Be sure to check out The Blodgett Lighthouse. An experience you will not soon forget!

P.S.  The old sensation was labeled a good thing upon reflection.

Rocket Century…Worth Checking Out! by Kieara Crisp


“What year is it again?” You have to ask yourself this question at least twice when you enter the Rocket Century gallery on S. Grand. The window front display, though nicely done, fails to prepare you for whats in store upon entering the gallery. Its the music that hits you first and acts as the catalyst for your transportation through time, but every designer knows its the furniture that keeps you there.  The gallery, which is no bigger than a small apartment, is designed to look and feel like distinctive spaces during the peak of Modernism, and trust me, it succeeds.

Its amazing how every piece exemplified not only quality and craftsmanship, but love and care until you meet the owner Kristina Starr, then it becomes blatantly obvious why. Mrs. Starr, along with her shop assistant Brian, have a strong bond with every piece and can tell you in full detail the history of any item you select in the gallery. Recently, they have acquired original designer pieces from Denmark made by ‘true designers’ that inspired the modern designers in America. These pieces are the result of designers ‘thinking out of the box’ for the first time, going against doctrines and tradition to produce something that responded to the times, something cool, something modern. Seeing these pieces in person is like meeting the role model to your role model (slightly mind blowing if your a romantic like me).


Before entering the showroom each piece is updated without loosing its essence; the upholstered furniture is reupholstered in fabric from its origanally time period. I highly  recommend not only visiting, but building a relationship with Rocket Century (trust me it wouldn’t be hard to do) for those projects that need a unique piece, from ashtrays to sofas, with a distinct history to make your spaces distinct,  for the times you need assistance for finding a specific item made in the 1920’s – 1980’s, or if you just love modern furniture.

But beware! It is easy to walk in and go directly to the record player or jukebox with the desire to turn up the volume, because your favorite song is playing, before looking for your remote so you can see if Bewitched is playing on your original black and white TV.  Although it isn’t your apartment, there is no TV, and unfortunately no Bewitched, you can always pretend.

Visit Rocket Century’s website!


Intro to “Designing Small is Designing Smart” by Derek Maschek

Smarter and Smaller Houses, an Introduction to Design

Last year, Merriam-Webster voted “austerity” the apparently coveted status of Word of the Year.  The negativity around the term can be seen in the riots of Greece and Spain and Great Britain.  The word “austere” includes definitions such as “stern and cold in appearance”, “markedly simple or unadorned”, and “giving little or no scope for pleasure”.  No word better captures how many people would react if I were to suggest the concept of building small, particularly at a time when more is perceived as better.  And no word could be more misleading and wrong to the great potential of this “other” design approach.  So, to establish a new frame of reference, let me throw some new words into the pot for consideration;








In only sixty years, we have witnessed an interesting phenomenon in the United States.  The average size of a family has seen a 30% decrease, from 3.6 to 2.7 or one person.  Over the same period, the average house increased by 140%, from 1,000 to 2,400 square feet.  I’ll let you make any connections between life then versus now, as that is another conversation altogether and getting preachy here detracts and distracts from the power of a very powerful design methodology.


Put simply, when built using the same conventional methods, small houses cost less to build, operate, and maintain.  It seems obvious, but building less means a directly proportional reduction in the materials and time required to build, and in many cases the actual per-piece costs for materials is reduced as well.  Operationally, costs are reduced by limiting the resources needed to make the house work and be comfortable to live in.  And from a maintenance perspective, less time and money is put into cleaning, repairing, and eventually replacing all the components that go into a house. When capitalizing on the full capabilities of new technologies and the better understanding of traditional ones, these savings are compounded.  And by corollary, for the same cost, if you reduce the square footage, you can increase the cost per square foot, meaning a smaller house provides an opportunity for higher quality or more features.

This is a topic that has been covered by smarter people than I, and in greater detail than I’ll get into.  I intend only to provide an overview, emphasize a few simple points, and show some commonly pursued tactics as well as some uniquely innovative ones.  Most importantly I hope to reveal the underlying philosophy that supports it all, to shed light on the “other” design approach I mentioned at the top.

Architecture specifically is commonly perceived as an answer to some problem, a solution, a thing.  The emphasis is on the result.  However, architecture specifically and design in general, has been more accurately defined as “problem solving” or “problem seeking”. Design as process, not product.  In order to solve a “problem”, it is critical to first understand it, to ask questions in order to discover its essence in as much detail as possible.  So, when it comes to designing a small house, let’s focus on the questions being asked as a means to understand the answers that result;

What do you want in a home?

What do you need in a home?

What limitations are there?

What opportunities are there?

I would invite you to go through a sort of design process with me moving forward, answering these questions as best you can.  Consider the design of your dream home, your vacation home, or just reimagine your current home.  Consider the addition or renovation you’ve been contemplating.

Designing a small home, as it should be with any home or any building, is really nothing more than being smart about it, balancing what you need with what you want with what you have.  Designing small, is designing smart.

Stay tuned for more installments on this topic in the coming weeks.  Derek can be reached via email to discuss a specific project.

mixing patterns, textures, and colors by mandi maurer gray

As an Interior Designer, I am asked on a very consistent basis what the rules are when mixing patterns, textures, and colors. I many times say that there are no “rules” per say, just good design plans. For many, it can be overwhelming to mix many colors together or to add patterns into a space. I feel this leads many to staying with a very neutral color palette with little to no pattern, not venturing far from their comfort zones. For example, even though someone may love pink, they would never think of introducing the color into their decor. My advise is to find a designer whom you feel you click well with and who will understand your concerns and limitations. Maybe your love of pink can find a beautifully designed place in your home.

Below are some examples of mixing patterns, textures, and colors. Get ready to be inspired!


historical interior design by mandi maurer gray

Historical interior design is an interesting facet of the design world. Interior design by nature is using one’s creative skill set and style to produce beautiful interiors. Interiors that are set apart from all others through the work of the interior designers’ interpretation of their clients’ personal style. This all becomes more of a challenge when working specifically on historical interiors. I have had the privilege to work on Frank Lloyd Wright homes, along with other known historical home styles. These projects were inspiring to a point, but also limiting to a point. After all, I am the interior designer of a project whose job is to design a specific space historically accurate of what another designer/architect would have done. This seems that it would lend itself to some stifling of creativity, and in part, it does, but it also lends itself to reaching further than I had ever before reached into my creative fault and bring out something that makes the client, myself, and the original designer/architect proud.

Designing for historical residences has a couple of inherent challenges: 1) The homeowner has chosen to live in a historic home for a reason. They love the design of the home and want to keep the original concept alive. This includes the designer doing much research into the time period, designer/architect, and clients’ sense of style. How do they want their personality to show, along with the historic intent? 2) How does the designer create a historically accurate, yet fresh concept for the homeowner? How will others be able to see the designers style shine through while meeting all other criteria? 3) Are there restrictions placed by the city or village where the property is located in terms of the design of the home? Will the designer have to propose and have approved their design intentions to a committee in order to begin work?

Along with the challenges, come the rewards, of course. The designer becomes an investigator into the past. Into another time period and the intentions of past designers and architects. The designer is able to discover past inspirations that are able to be spotted throughout the home. Mouldings, casings, paint color, built-ins, radiator covers, door styles, location of rooms, etc…all have intentional designs and locations. Finding out these intentions is fun and becomes such an interesting challenge to incorporate the new designers interpretations.

I must say that I have had many intense and amazing historical design projects throughout my career that give me joy to think back on. One of the best compliments a client has given me was to say that many of their guests asked if the additions I had incorporated into the home were original. I told the client to start saying, yes, in fact they are. Why not, keep the mystery alive!

Before: fireplace addition and historical remodel of Bungalow

After: fireplace addition and historical remodel of Bungalow

Working With An Interior Designer by Victoria Dreste

Gone are the days of the interior designer who comes sweeping into your home declaring everything hideous and demanding the removal of everything you own.

Today a designer is more likely to meet with you, ask questions about your likes and listen carefully to what you have to say, helping you to discover your personal style.

If you are the kind of person who finds it difficult to communicate what you like but are definite about what you do not like, good. That is a great place to start.

Your sofa doesn’t have to look like every other sofa you see. Furniture, area rugs and window treatments can all be produced to exact specifications. A professional will design and customize your home to define and achieve your style.

Working with a designer gives you the opportunity to purchase from sources that are specific to designers and architects. This bedroom has fabrics and wall coverings from Osborne & Little.

This gorgeous bedroom was customized with the client’s collection of framed botanicals. I also love the rustic beams with the sophisticated chandelier.

This living room setting includes furniture with custom finishes. Selecting specific finishes allows you to design the exact look you want for your home. 

In this sitting room new furniture is mixed with vintage to create a slightly bohemian style.

A mix of furniture and fabrics create a chic dining style. 

With the guidance of an interior designer you can have a home that is your personal style.

You can see more of Vicki’s work here.

creating a home by mandi maurer gray

Choosing a home and creating a personal space, a sanctuary to call one’s own, can be such an intensely amazing, yet sometimes overwhelming experience. It can be compared to choosing what college to attend and later what career path to venture on.

A home is  where the heart is, where our personalities and quirky traits are free to run wild. I tend to feel that we are sometimes missing the true nature of what our homes should represent. They should not be designed solely to enhance future buyers or to function as a sort of museum. Homes are to be lived in and to be part of the memories we create with our family and friends. In a world that is constantly on the go, how do we find a place of calm in our homes at the end of the day.

This is where designers enter the picture. When choosing a designer, I feel it is very important to interview each other to see how well both the client and the designer click, to get a feel for the chemistry between the two. After all, the process of designing your home should be fun, so making sure the designer & client relationship is a good fit will ultimately produce the best possible results.

Once you find the right designer for you, you may want to ask yourself a few questions…

What feel do I want this home to have for both myself, family and company? How do I see the rooms functioning on a daily basis? Is there a focal point to the rooms? Do I want to express myself through lots of color or do I want to keep the overall color scheme neutral and add pops of color through accents and accessories? What do I feel is my personal style? Am I more of a traditionalist or more of a modernist?  What does that mean to me? It may also be a good time to show your designer any inspiration pictures you may have been collecting in order for him/her to get a better feel for the style direction. The design duration lasts as long as it takes to make your space exactly what you had in mind. Your dream home.

Ultimately, the designer’s job is to create peace of mind and a well-designed home that the client is proud to call their own. A home of peace of mind, relaxation, functionality, personal style, and happy memories to come.


“The living space is never unfinished and never finished. It lives with those who live within.” -Josef Frank

“God invented the giraffe, the elephant, the cat. He has no personal style. He just goes on trying things.” -Pablo Picasso


Inspiring Moments by Mandi Maurer Gray

What inspires creative professionals tends to expose itself in our work. We gather images in our memory, which emerge when we are creating. This collection of inspiring moments happens over our entire lifetimes. We constantly add to our bank of images while traveling, shopping, walking through our cities and parks, and while commuting to work.

Inspiration is endless. All we have to do is be open and attune to our surroundings. Taking time to “take in” where we are, what we are doing, and what is all around us. In our busy lives, this can prove to be harder to do than one may think.

This brings me to ask the question…what inspires you? What types of shapes, patterns, colors, textures, smells, appeal to you? I would like to propose a challenge. For one week, carry a journal of some sort with you and document your inspirations. This can be from the smallest spark of intrigue to an overwhelming attraction. This will truly become a journal of insight and self-realization upon review at the end of the week. It may even become a part of daily practice, not to mention, a worthwhile activity for igniting new ideas and creativity in our daily lives & careers as creative professionals.

I encourage anyone who takes part in this challenge to post comments and thoughts regarding their experiences. It will be fun to see what types of images are inspiring to others. In fact, it may even be a way to find new inspiration for ourselves.

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