Rohde's "Opportunistic" Design Laboratory

House Tour

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Name: S. Rohde Hill
Location: St Louis, MO
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; rented

Rohde (pronounced road-ee) Hill's home is visually stimulating — punctuated by pops of bright color and loaded with interesting things. The result is modern and dramatic. He's a family man, a recent transplant to the suburbs of Saint Louis with his wife and two children. What could easily be a single person's city apartment is actually a mishmash of items that look expensive, but aren't too precious for a regular household with kids.

Rohde's wide-ranging taste was shaped, in part, by his time in Los Angeles, where he worked for designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard (of Million Dollar Decorators). He's got the stories to prove it: buying a Kelly Wearstler prototype chandelier for peanuts before she was famous, and inheriting a frame from Elton John. Random things find him, and he happily seizes the opportunity to own them.

Glamorous backstory aside, it's Rohde's DIY projects that are truly impressive. The graffiti chair in the living room is one, modeled after higher end versions seen elsewhere. So too is the artwork, including the rasterized Batman print above the bar, and the sexy pin up painting of his wife(!) in the bedroom.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Just don't call me eclectic. It's such an overused word. I would describe myself more as "opportunistic". Working on a budget usually requires that you work with what you can find.

Inspiration: I worked for Martyn Lawrence Bullard in L.A and I learned so much by watching the masterful way he would combine pieces from different eras and styles to produce a space that was greater than just the sum of its parts. I'm also a giant fan of Emily Henderson. I want to go shopping with her. I used to hit up all the same stores in L.A and I swear I never found as much cool stuff as she does!

Favorite Element: It's a tie between my original "Rorschach Batman", in a frame that was given to me by Elton John when I was working on his apartment in West Hollywood, and my DIY dipped, graffiti-ed Louis chair paint job.

Biggest Challenge: I have two small kids that have just discovered the joys of lightsaber duels, so I have to choose things that aren't too precious or fragile and that ideally can be climbed on.

What Friends Say: When I have people over for the first time, the always assume that my wife did the decorating. She's always quick to tell them that I was the designer — but she was the client.

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathrooms. I can't paint or change out the 80's era paper covered cabinets. Grrrr.

Proudest DIY: My version of Blackman Cruz's Bronze Skull Lamp… an $8 plastic skull, $3 Goodwill lamp, a bag of concrete, a can of bronze spray paint, and a shade stolen from a lamp I wasn't using.

Biggest Indulgence: A vintage 80's era Jay Spectre Century sofa. It's bright white, so I have to get it reupholstered before my kids destroy it!

Best Advice: I think the best way to amp up the drama in a room (no matter what your personal style is) is to try to incorporate larger scaled items — mirrors, art, lighting, etc. I also like to try to use things out of their intended context whenever I can, like using a bench for an entertainment center or using outdoor furniture inside.

Dream Sources: J.F. Chen in Los Angeles. My jaw hit the ground the first time I went into his trade showroom. I saw things there that I never even knew existed.

Thanks, Rohde!

(Images: Ann Manubay, Dabney Frake )

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