Coloring Outside the Lines

Color abounds in this West County home, reflecting the distinctive personalities of its owners.

By Barb Wilson
Photography by Anne Matheis


Serene and stately from the curb, this lovely residence in Town & Country conceals the beehive of energy and creativity continually taking place inside. Owners Karen and Jim Castellano have a multitude of personal interests, and the 8,000-square-foot 1 1/2-story custom home built, by Bruning Homes, was tailored to their vibrant, active lifestyle.

On this particular day, Jim is at the office, where he is an accountant with a prominent national accounting/consulting firm. Karen is busily packing for a trip to Florida, while simultaneously helping to fabricate 200 huge paper flowers for an event being hosted by one of the couple’s two grown daughters. 

Unruffled by SLHL’s intrusion on her hectic schedule, Karen explained that she already had specific plans for the home’s interior décor when the architectural plans were still on the drawing boards nine years ago. The predominant color scheme throughout the main level would be red, green and gold, incorporating a number of the couple’s previously owned furnishings. The kitchen would be black and white, with distressed white cabinetry, and new acquisitions would be skillfully upholstered in hand-selected fabrics. 

Karen’s focus on color and craftsmanship is hardly surprising, since she holds a degree in fashion merchandising from Fontbonne University, where she also taught apparel construction. Her early career included positions with several well-known fabric stores and, later, her own business, cleverly named “Seams to Me.” 

Yet another asset, the owner’s sister, Kathleen Clark, is an interior designer and was happy to help Karen realize her vision. “Kathleen knows what I like,” Karen emphasizes – an important factor, since the Castellanos were less concerned with the latest fashion trends and more interested in creating a sophisticated-yet-relaxed living environment that would reflect their personal taste.

Characterized by elaborate woodwork, high ceilings and expansive windows, the home’s main level flows smoothly from one space to another and is well suited to entertaining. The red/green/gold theme first was established in the hearth room and, although Karen had no particular style in mind when starting the process, she describes the ultimate décor as “eclectic and kind of Country French.” 

Awash with color and natural light, the two-story living room is comfortably furnished with a pair of soft fern-green sofas, preowned but relatively new when brought to this house; two French-style side chairs in a pale-gold damask; an eye-catching leopard-print ottoman and tray coffee table, both from KDR, and two additional side chairs, upholstered by Struckhoff in a red/green/gold stripe that reinforces the palette. The hand-woven and embroidered living room rug was a special find and exactly what Karen was looking for, with its French-influenced medallion design and complementary hues.

Displayed in this room and throughout the home is a varied collection of original paintings. “Jim is an art lover and travels a lot on business,” Karen notes. “We enjoy visiting art fairs, and he’s brought back pieces from around the world, places like Bangkok and South America.”  

Fully visible from the hearth room and casual dining area is a fabulous covered veranda, where the color scheme was modified somewhat, transitioning to gold, turquoise and deep coral for a more “tropical” effect. Two benches, covered in an embroidered indoor/outdoor fabric, and a vivid all-weather rug establish the tricolor theme. Comfy wicker chairs, cushioned in turquoise, are grouped around a steel-mesh coffee table, and three separate dining arrangements provide seating for two, four or six. Bright-yellow planters, turquoise garden stools and throw pillows made by Karen lend colorful accents.

Completing the main level are the formal dining room, luxurious master retreat and Jim’s richly paneled, fireside study, with its two-sided oval desk from Horchow, burgundy executive chair and club chairs in a gold/beige herringbone weave.  According to Karen, “Jim considers area rugs art, so the hand-knotted wool rug was the basis for his study’s décor.”

In the dining room, stark-black walls contrast dramatically with the all-white woodwork and picture-frame chair rail. “This was an ‘experiment’ that Kathleen talked me into,” says Karen, “and I really like it, since it makes a nice transition from the black-and-white kitchen.”  Set on a richly hued floral rug are a Thomasville inlaid-mahogany dining table and mahogany chairs upholstered by Karen – the host/hostess chairs in an elegant paisley, the side chairs in a complementary ribbed plaid.

A majestic curved staircase leads from the foyer to the upstairs privacy level and continues its graceful curve to the lower level, which might best be described as “family central.” The vast entertainment area is lined with Jim’s huge collection of sports memorabilia. Karen’s base of operations, her spacious, sunny sewing room, adjoins a phenomenal playroom, designed and decorated to specification for the Castellanos’ six grandchildren, with a miniature café, schoolroom, museum, theater and offstage dressing room.

On the upper level, Karen’s flair for color – and her sense of humor – are evident in the guest suites, which most frequently are occupied by the grandkids who range in age from 10 to 9 months. With an impish smile, she identifies each bedroom and its adjacent bath by the décor. 

For example, the whimsical “dog room” illustrates the family’s love for animals, particularly their favorite pet Yorkshire Terriers. Amusing dog “portraits” top the wicker headboard, and a Ballard Design étagère showcases additional canine objets d’art. Maintaining a sense of decorum, however, the bedding is a traditional Ralph Lauren design in a deep-red cotton floral. 

The “black-and-white room” features a trundle daybed in creamy white; an armchair and ottoman, copied from MacKenzie-Childs, in a bold black-and-white stripe by Struckhoff Upholstery; and for a touch of color, a Picasso print. Reserved for the youngest offspring, the “pink-green-and-yellow room” is bathed in fresh pastels and furnished with crisp white wicker.

Moving from room to room, Karen runs her fingertips affectionately over the multitextured fabrics, heirloom treasures made by family members and various items she personally has created, upholstered, painted or embroidered.  In every space, it is clear that she has achieved her original goal. The Castellano residence is aesthetically pleasing, wonderfully functional and as creative and colorful as its owners.

Builder: Bruning Homes, 
Designer: Kathleen Clark Interiors, 314-740-9315
Furnishings: KDR Designer Showrooms, 314-993-5020
Upholstery: Struckoff Upholstery