Designing Men

These home and design authorities have set the bar for top design and style in St. Louis.

Edited by Melissa Mauzy
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Name: Garison Salinas
Company: Columbus Design Division of GARRISON LTD.
Years in the Industry: 23
Favorite design project, and why?
During the last day of a Clayton ranch renovation, I met a single financial executive who informed me that he was about to become engaged.  He said that he had been following my renovation work and wanted to hire me for a large town house he just purchased as a wedding gift for his bride to be. I accepted the project on the terms that he would help in the design process. Throughout his six-month renovation, I really enjoyed the working partnership defining his taste and having full participation in numerous design selections. Colors, art, fabrics, and room functions were the design details that I asked him to experience and select for his future home. We completely changed the once pastel palace into a very chic, rich and relaxing Santa Barbara-style town home. The textures were rich and the colors were very light in tones.

The day came for the engagement, my client presented the newly renovated house with a gold key and a ring to his girlfriend of five years, but she did not accept!  My client was heart-broken, and he was thinking of selling the new townhouse. I recommended and finally convinced him to move into the new house. A few months later, I learned he was dating and then married my flooring representative. They both fell in love with each other, and she also fell in love with the home.


Name: Scott Hepper
Company: Walter Knoll
Years in the industry: 35
Favorite design project, and why?
RITZ CARLTON TABLETOPS! A total creation from first thoughts to design implementation to set up. Another fab project was being asked by the Chicago Florists and the Garfield Park Conservatory to become a lead designer for Fleurotica fashion runway show with couture and lots of flowers as fashion. It was an unbelievable experience mixing beautiful flowers with beautiful models, and I was a part of a winning team. Winery weddings are my specialty having grow up in Sonoma County.


Name: Jim Howard
Company: Glen Alspaugh Kitchen and Bath
Years in the industry: 30
Favorite design project, and why?
My favorite design project is my kitchen. The project, which was 90% completed by myself working evenings and weekends, gave me renewed insights into what it takes to make a kitchen remodel successful. I was venturing into a project that was usually a collaborative effort for me. Appreciation for the multitude of material choices that a homeowner is bombarded with and the parting of hard-earned monies came in first. A reminder of the physicality of the carpentry and other skills involved became apparent early on and placed second. Designing without input from the many professionals normally involved in these projects gave me more than the usual amount of control, but tested my creative skills. Lastly, I live with the finished product and am able to appreciate it on a daily basis. I am 100% satisfied with all of my decisions. We will not discuss the budget.


Name: Dick Busch
Company: Dick Busch Architects
Years in the industry: 40
Favorite design project, and why?
You ask, “which is my favorite project?” and that is impossible to answer. All of my clients think that their project was my favorite, and in a way that is true. My favorite project is the one I am currently working on at any time. When designing a custom home the client is the most important ingredient in the recipe. It is their vision and their ability to express that vision that will put a home on my favorite list. I do have architectural styles that I personally prefer, but doing only those would get weary, and then I would lean toward something else. So my favorite project is the one that I am enjoying so much that I come in to the office early and leave late.


Name: Tony Russo
Company: Russo Stone and Tile Design
Years in the Industry: 28
Favorite design project, and why?
After 28 years in the stone industry, it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific job that I could say has been my favorite.  Every client is unique as they have a vision all their own and are trusting that we will take their idea of a dream kitchen and bring it to life.  One particular client came to us with a binder of magazine clippings and ideas she had gathered over time. She was relying on us to transform her ideas into a one-of-a-kind Italian marble kitchen. Her island was going to be complicated; something I’ve never done before. After spending several hours viewing various stone slabs, we located the perfect marble for her project. I was now ready to take her ideas and materials and turn it over to our craftsmen who would then take her vision and create a counter that was nothing short of a functional work of art. I took great pride and satisfaction in seeing our client’s expression as she watched each piece slowly lock together to complete her dream.