Ann & Dabney’s Splendid Blended Storefront Conversion

published Feb 22, 2010
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(Welcome to Ann & Dabney from St. Louis, a tag team of bloggers trying out for a place as Apartment Therapy House Tour Contributors. Enjoy their work!)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Ann & Dabney
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Size: 3700 square feet (including home & workspace)
Years lived in: 6 months

When we were looking to move to Saint Louis, we looked at a lot of houses in the city, but it was in an old butcher shop turned hardware store turned office that we found our perfect renovation project. Today, the downstairs is lofty and industrial, with a wide open living plan, while the upstairs has the privacy of traditional bedrooms. A large barn door separates the studio, where we run mogo, from the rest of the house.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

In addition to blending home and office, we also wanted to strike a balance between our modern and traditional tastes. We favor clean lines, without sacrificing the integrity of the old building, including its decorative mill work. Whenever possible, certain features (including floors, trim, mantels, hardware, and doors) were spared or recreated. In one case, this meant reworking old five panel doors into more streamlined sliding doors for the bathrooms. The overall mix works well for us, and we are thrilled with our new/old modern/traditional house/office.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: We often borrow a phrase from the Porches Inn in North Adams, Massachusetts when we say we are “industrial modern granny chic.” Throw in a “vintage” and maybe a “rustic” and that pretty much sums us up.

Inspiration: Like many AT readers, we regularly drool over design blogs like Remodelista, Desire to Inspire, and The Selby. Our problem is too MUCH inspiration. We often need to remind ourselves to turn off the computers and trust our own sense of what works for us. We also love to tool around the many antique malls in the area, looking for fun stuff.

Favorite Element: The old storefront windows, combined with 11 foot ceilings, let in tons of light. It’s a far cry from the basement apartment we lived in previously. We also love that there are “hidden” pantry shelves built behind our kitchen wall. They squeeze in excellent, easily accessible storage, without the visual clutter. You can’t see them from the photos, and we’ll just keep it that way if you don’t mind. Lastly, at the end of the workday, it’s great that home is just a large sliding barn door away.

Biggest Challenge: Finding what we need/want for the house, without spending a lot of money. We are officially house rich and cash poor, so choosing and affording rugs, art, paint and furniture will take some time. 95% of the decor you see in the photos was either found on Craigslist, at auction, through yard sales, or on ebay. Dabney is famous among friends for her large collection of scavenged chairs.

Also, Ann steers towards the minimal look, but Dabney loves a cluttered room with lots of things to look at. Meeting in the middle can be difficult.

What Friends Say: “My, what a lot of chairs.”

Biggest Embarrassment: Oh, there are many. Since we’ve only been in the house for half a year, there are oodles of projects still on the back burner. The front “yard” is basically topsoil with an artful array of weeds. Inside, one room doesn’t have a stitch of furniture in it. And, last but not least, you are looking at white primer on all the walls.

Proudest DIY: When we bought the house, there were several fireplaces covered up with plywood and paint. After stripping several layers of white (and turquoise!) paint for hours, we wound up with beautiful oak mantels, surrounded by original tile.

On first glance, the storefront windows look like frosted glass, but they are actually just large sheets of corrugated plastic tacked to the inside of the walls. Our contractor gave us the idea, and we anticipate living with this affordable solution for many years to come.

Biggest Indulgence: The marble island, without a doubt. We wanted it to be a focal point in the room. And we couldn’t be happier about our choice. We particularly love the asymmetrical “blob” that runs through the stone.

Best advice: Take an upholstery class at a local community college. We did it last year, and ended the course with a slew of recovered chairs. For example, Ann sewed the blue cushions in the low danish living room chairs. Dabney redid a vinyl Thonet chair purchased for $5 at a yard sale. It’s not that hard, and once you try it, a whole new world of possibility opens up.

Dream source: R. Ege Antiques here in Saint Louis. We wandered in there for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and were floored by Rick’s eye for merchandising, and his collection of reclaimed and one-of-a-kind vintage items for sale- anything from Jielde lamps to old circus signs. Also, Urban Remains in Chicago looks like a lot of fun. But mostly, we dream of finding that mythical estate or yard sale, where we scoop up loads of vintage goods for pennies on the dollar. Or, that we stumble across an old hospital surplus sale and walk out with a room of metal medical cabinets. Thankfully, in Missouri, those still exist.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Furniture: Farm table, Plycraft lounger, Danish chairs, credenza, galvanized metal work table, small workroom metal desk, wire Bertoia chair, bedroom dresser, twin bed, bedside table, hallway chairs, all Craigslist. Stools from McMaster-Carr. Heywood Wakefield dining room chairs from Ivey-Selkirk Auction House in Saint Louis. Sofa from Workbench.

Lighting: eBay, Ikea, Craigslist

Woodstove: Jotul

Paint: Primer, for now.

Dog: Friday, by Bloodhound

Rugs and carpets: Ikea, eBay, Angela Adams

Art: Framed wallpaper by J. Otto Siebold, titled “A Year’s Supply of Turtle Wax”, painting of Tremont Street in Boston, by Kate Sullivan, several prints from Crosshair (

DIY projects: Upholstered chairs, fireplace mantels, door hardware

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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