Amanda Hehmeyer doesn’t describe herself as a midcentury modern aficionado. At least, she didn’t used to. Amanda, her husband Rob, their two daughters and beloved Weimaraner, Greta, lived in a traditional two-story brick typical of the architecture found in their St. Louis Hills community. Although the family had outgrown the 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, they were sailing along until the pandemic hit, shuttering Amanda’s business as a corporate event planner.
“I wasn’t working for the first time in 25 years, so I spent that time painting and sprucing up our house to see what happened in that wild real estate market,” Amanda remembers. They sold the home in one day and moved to an apartment, taking their time searching for a larger home in St. Louis Hills similar to the one they’d just sold. “We love it here,” Amanda says of the area. “It’s a really special little community.” When her real estate agent learned some high school classmates planned to sell their midcentury modern home, Amanda realized it was the same house she’d long admired. “During quarantine, I walked past this house every day and just thought it was so cool,” Amanda recalls. “But it was not what I thought we’d end up with.”
Viewing it for the first time, Amanda was struck by the home’s flow and sense of openness. “I just knew this was the house for us,” she says. “I didn’t fall in love with it because it’s midcentury modern. I fell in love with it because of how it makes you feel.” The home’s floor-to-ceiling windows, four bedrooms and purposeful design appealed as well. “It’s well planned,” she explains. “That impressed me because I’m a planner. And the level of detail made it really special.”
And once she committed to the home, Amanda was all in on midcentury modern, researching the aesthetic with its focus on clean lines, big windows to let the outside in, simple shapes and minimal ornamentation and neutral tones with occasional splashes of color.
The house wasn’t quite perfect for the family’s needs, however. The living room was large and spacious, but there was no family room for lounging and watching TV. The windows were mismatched from various renovations over the years, and many of them weren’t energy efficient. The kitchen had been redone in the 1990s, but the light oak cabinets and travertine floor weren’t Amanda’s favorites. And a lanai at the back of the home, which Amanda describes as “an amazing part of the house, cool and very special” wasn’t entirely practical. “With screened windows and doors, we really could only utilize it in fall and spring,” she says.
Converting this space to a family room was high on Amanda’s wish list. The team at Aleto Construction Group turned the outside lanai into an indoor living space that now flows seamlessly throughout, with just a nod to its original indoor/outdoor layout, says Patti Aleto, owner of the design-build firm. The exterior brick walls were removed, the existing woodburning fireplace converted to a gas, double-sided fireplace, the ceiling reframed to receive seven new skylights and finishes added throughout to highlight the home’s one-of-a-kind features, says Aleto. “The skylights, wall of windows and full-view triple door unit flood the family room and adjacent space with natural light, connecting the indoors to the outdoor entertainment patio,” says Aleto.
At the family room’s end, sliding doors leading into the primary bedroom were replaced with drywall. “This new wall allowed us to hang a TV here,” Amanda says. She dressed the TV wall in a whimsical green and pink floral wallpaper and further accented the wall with a custom wood frame stained black. “This is my solution to the fact I couldn’t find any built-ins that didn’t look too traditional or too permanent,” says Amanda. “And I can lean artwork on the ledges if I want.”
The kitchen received a mini makeover. Amanda removed the upper cabinets and painted the existing lowers a crisp white. The Aleto team removed the travertine floor and extended hardwood into the space. They also removed two dated closets and added a built-in black cabinet. “This feature showcases décor in a stunning way that coordinates well with the existing features of the home,” says Aleto.
She notes that one of the home’s most unique elements is the terrazzo flooring. “It flows like a stream from the front entry, through the house, to what was the lanai on the exterior,” says Aleto. The front entry experience was further enhanced with a new, oversized walnut pivot door. A series of frosted glass sidelights were replaced with one large clear glass panel, letting even more natural light stream into the space.
Walls throughout the home were repainted white, a departure for Amanda. “I’ve always had very bold paint colors on my walls, but in this house, there is so much else going on with the architecture, I felt a cool-tone white was right and I’d just put pops of color and pattern in spots,” she explains. Case in point: the home office. Amanda removed a louvered closet door and commissioned the construction of built-ins with closed cabinetry for additional storage and open shelving for keepsakes. “This was another place I could have some crazy wallpaper,” she says of the teal paper with leopard motifs.
“Most things in a home don’t have to be forever,” Amanda says of the leopard wallpaper or the dramatic, almost-black paint she chose for the primary bedroom. “Smaller-ticket items can always be redone down the road. I like to have a little pop of fun things here and there.”
Now that she is well-versed in midcentury modern design, Amanda eagerly shares the renovated home with others. She documented the overhaul on social media and even agreed to participate in St. Louis Homes + Lifestyles Luxury Home Tour with proceeds benefiting Haven of Grace. “I’m pretty passionate about this place,” she says.
Architect Aesh Design
Builder Aleto Construction Group
Windows Webster Window & Door