It was a seedy little apartment complex that I recall walking by as a youngster. Next to the train tracks, it always seemed an oddity in the old suburban environs of Webster Groves where I grew up. Little did I know that many years later as an interior designer, I would attempt to rescue it from its ignominy on the theatre circuit. It was known as the Bates Motel, so odious and sinister were the accommodations, or lack thereof.
The Garden Apartments
Very obviously 1960's architecture, it was constructed of cheap cinder block, designed with the arrogance that modern style superseded all others, never mind that your neighbors were wood-sided 100 year old homes with wrap-around porches.
Scene of the Crime that Was, Unit G1
Christy Marshall, editor of At Home magazine, took on the Garden Apartments as a community project with passion. Designers, sub-contractors, and vendors were invited to share their time, talent, and wealth. Each unit consisted of a living/dining area, galley kitchen, bedroom and bath. These units, now owned by Webster University, were occupied most of the year by actors and musicians with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Marcia Smith, of Marcia Smith Design Group, and I decided to team up to tackle the project. Here we are at our initial site survey in the depths of winter last February. We would not be able to return until July.
This became my life for the next couple of months: keys to my car, my office, my home, and The Garden Apartments.
Yeah, it was nasty and a big mess. I will say, though, the a.c. worked beautifully on 100 degree days.
July 2011: Here Marcia and I in the space about to be reborn, if it ever really was alive! In any event, we were prepared to put it out of its misery.
Aaaahhhh, much better don't you think? Our design concept was in keeping with the '60's architecture. We relied on generous donations for purchases to supplement our own donated funds, and made liberal use of the Ikea catalogue to keep costs down.
Draperies by Nicky Berry of FabricWorks
Our drapery maker's daughter had on the right dress for opening night!
Home Suite Home
It was all for a good cause. Deborah Sharn, company manager for the Rep, was indefatigable in grappling with a myriad of details, budgets, contractors and designers. An excellent musician as well, she sang for her supper for sure! Marcia and I hope that the likes of opera great Christine Brewer will vie for the opportunity to reserve Apartment G1. Instead of the Bates Motel, it is now Home Sweet Home! On newsstands now you can see the project in At Home magazine November/December. Check it out at: