Forest Park Panache

Designer Lucy Willis breathes new life into a historic Forest Park treasure while meticulously maintaining the home’s original grandeur and architectural integrity.

By Jeanne Delathouder

Photography by Karen Palmer Photography

Interior Design Lucy Willis


With a reverence for traditional design and classic architecture, the new homeowners of this 1917 colonial revival gem were intent on preserving as much of the original structure as they could during an extensive restoration. The 5,500 square-foot home, designed by Gale Henderson—a prominent architect who worked with Raymond Maritz and Angelo Corrubia—sits in a coveted location just across the street from Forest Park. Upon purchase, the home required a complete overhaul, including all plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling systems. So, when the current homeowners, who are surprisingly only the fourth owners of this storied property, sought to restore the house in 2018, they enlisted Lucy Willis, owner of Lucy Willis Interiors, to take on the task.

“I wanted to keep as much of the home’s original footprint, wood moldings and flooring intact as possible during the renovations,” the designer explains. “I focused on bringing the house back to life for the young family living there now while maintaining a traditional interior design aesthetic. As a result, the overall feel of the residence is very much in keeping with its age and former grandeur but has the warmth and inviting touches of a family home.”

Both traditional design and architectural integrity were high on the list of must-haves for the homeowners, who love to travel overseas, collect fine art and antiques and entertain family and friends. Lucy worked to ensure the renovations reflected their interior design preferences in a way that still allowed for casual family time together. High-quality, durable materials, fabrics and furnishings that could stand the test of time—and the wear and tear of young children—were also a top priority during the design process. Lucy kept this in mind when making her fabric selections for furniture and custom window treatments throughout the home, which include a gorgeous Beacon Hill silk in the living room, a sumptuous Kravet moiré in the dining room and a vintage Scalamandré for the kitchen windows. She also enlisted the help of Catherine Riebold at Sunshine Drapery for shade and drapery fabrication and installation. Catherine’s team went the extra mile to ensure the window treatments were crafted and installed to perfection.

“My favorite part of this project was brainstorming with Lucy as to how to retain the character of this home yet make it a comfortable place for an active family to enjoy,” Catherine recalls. “We discussed fabrics, rods and custom window-treatment styles and determined ideal choices that provided beauty and function. Lucy’s unique and exquisite accessories and artwork added much to the finished look, and her masterful ability to determine placements of these finishing touches added to the home’s grandeur.” 

Another essential aspect Lucy considered before the renovation was the home’s highly sought-after location. The dwelling is ideally situated overlooking the scenic neighborhood of Forest Park, which greatly influenced the interior design. The homeowners are an active young family that enjoys spending time together in the park and the large back yard of their home. Lucy’s color palette draws on the natural elements on display from every window of the house. She selected nature-inspired Benjamin Moore paints for every room to create a seamless flow throughout the home. The creative vision for the living room’s rich color palette was a large pink magnolia tree in the back yard set against a vivid blue sky that reaches peak bloom in the springtime. The bark of the trees surrounding the property inspired the dark brown dining room walls, and the rusty orange fall leaves gave Lucy the idea for the room’s curtains. Hues from the paintings in the homeowners’ art collection helped guide the decorative finishes, such as pillow and furniture fabrics and accessories.

“As Lucy told me at the time the owners first purchased the home, ‘it was a hot mess,’” laughs Catherine. “With her design skills, it is now stunningly beautiful yet retains the charm of a family home for three young children. Lucy has incorporated many of the owners’ cherished heirlooms along with her own special finds. Every time I visit, I am mesmerized that each room—every nook and cranny in this large three-story home—has special visual treats. I can literally find something fascinating in every corner and on every wall. She truly has a knack for finishing every space, especially in this impressive historic home.”  

Some of Lucy’s notable selections include a custom powder room sink made with Palmer unlacquered brass legs and topped with marble from the home’s original sink. For continuity, she chose Rohl unlacquered brass plumbing fixtures in both the kitchen and powder room. The lighting throughout the home features predominantly restored antique fixtures purchased from local dealers—Jon Paul Designs and Collectibles and Ronnie Vinton’s Cool Stuff Period. For the kitchen, Lucy custom-designed the unlacquered brass pendant lights from Rejuvenation and the copper range hood. The Blue Star range lends gourmet-quality functionality, and the backsplash and island top are outfitted in elegant Calacutta Oro marble.

Luxurious touches that radiate an authentic traditional vibe include the living room’s Century chocolate brown velvet sofa trimmed in silk tassels that Lucy purchased from a dealer in Chicago during one of her buying trips in search of the perfect furnishings. To create a grand entrance, she strategically chose a classic striped Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper to cover the front hallway and main stairwell. 

“The couple who took on this home restoration have always wanted to live on Lindell Boulevard,” says Lucy, “and they recognized what an amazing opportunity and blessing it is to be the custodians of a St. Louis architectural treasure. They entertain family and friends often and are delighted their children have such a wonderful home to grow up in.”  



Flooring: Champion Flooring 

Glass: County Glass

Designer: Lucy Willis Interiors 

Ironwork: Perpetua Iron 

Plumbing Fixtures: Crescent Plumbing 

Window Treatments: Sunshine Drapery