A few years ago I bought a real fixer upper for my own family. As my husband lovingly reminded me for the DURATION of the design and... Read More

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This New House

From The St. Louis Business Journal
June 30, 2006
By: Anna Jones

Home interior designer Tricia Sinn is consumed by detail. Large, small, financial, aesthetic, Sinn pores through it all over and over again with clients as they go through the process of renovating or building a custom home with Sinn Design Build.

So when Tricia began designing her family's dream home at 12819 Conway Road in Creve Coeur, treasures of all sorts were incorporated throughout.

"This one was really a labor of love," said Sinn, who owns the company with her husband, Frank. "I always say there's a line between ostentatious and opulent. I'm very careful never to cross that line. People can walk in and say, 'I can live here.' That was the whole point."

The home reflects Sinn's love of Italianate design. Curved archways and wrought iron accents are carried throughout. In the library -- with its 21-foot ceiling, clerestory window setting and 15-foot reconditioned birch wood panels -- those archways create entryways to a back terrace while quietly hiding bookshelves.

The fireplace in the two-story great room includes wrought iron set into the recessed mantel and is accented with corbels discovered in a New Orleans antique shop. A three-story spiral staircase has wrought iron spindles. The dining room, offset by archways and pillars, is perfect for hosting large get-togethers.

The master bedroom suite includes French doors to the front balcony and a large and mirrored dressing area accessible via archways on either side of the bed. The master bath includes a 6-foot round Venetian-style tub, his and hers water closets (one with a bidet), vanity areas, a two-sided shower, built-in armoire and makeup mirror for her and French doors to the back terrace on his side.

Despite all the time and work that went into their dream house, Sinn and her husband, Frank, who manages the construction side of the company, decided to sell it in 2004 upon its completion. Samrina and Dr. Mohammed Haseeb, a cardiologist, bought the home for about $1.9 million.

"This home was just so different than all the other houses, we just loved it," said Samrina Haseeb, who said the couple looked at 50 to 60 houses before making their decision. "The construction, the details, the locality. There are so many things in this house that exactly fulfilled my needs."

The Old World look of the home is magnified by a stone and brick exterior with stone balustrades. A 15-foot arched entry has eight-foot, hand-carved mahogany double doors. A circle drive leads to the home, and a four-car garage sits discreetly to the left.

A two-story foyer opens to Sinn's favorite feature of the home -- a three-story, 36-stair spiral staircase that leads to four bedroom suites upstairs and the basement landing below. Atop the staircase is a chandelier that can be lowered on an electrical system for cleaning.

"I wanted an entry foyer that had a winding staircase so that you could see all three stories," said Sinn, who drew inspiration from University City's City Hall. "The stairs alone were about $50,000. Then there's the turret to put in and the windows, and it was well over $100,000."

While Sinn Design Build uses hundreds of subcontractors largely for the construction of the home up until the drywall stage, its own carpenters did much of the precision work, particularly on items such as the staircase, which involved round spaces.

The foyer opens into the great room, which has a 19-foot ceiling and a far wall with five large, open arched windows, including three French doors that lead to the back yard. The windows alone cost $13,000. The trimwork, which melds the windows into one large Palladiam-style centerpiece, brought the total for the windows to about $25,000.

The fireplace, the room's centerpiece, which extends to the ceiling, cost an estimated at $20,000. But the noteworthy wrought iron, which also is incorporated into the room's wet bar, cost $2,000 at most, said Sinn, and the corbels from New Orleans were not costly. "In custom building, a lot of the ideas are not expensive. It just takes a lot of coordinating to make it look right."

It was that fireplace's intricate detail that helped catch Samrina Haseeb's attention when she and her husband saw the home. "I love this room. The fireplace attracted me a lot," Haseeb said. "It's just so beautiful and different. It anchors the house."

The fireplace stack is shared by the fireplace in the two-story library, which Sinn configured a bit differently than many of the libraries she designs. The windows atop the two-story-high far wall provide natural lighting as well as privacy for Dr. Haseeb, who also works out of the home.

"There were literally hundreds of hours put into designing this room," said Sinn, who estimates the room's detailing exceeded $50,000. "Some of these pieces actually came from Europe. We had to order things from all over the place, antique shops, online."

To the left of the foyer is the dining room, which the Haseebs use to entertain groups as large as 100 people.

Beyond that awaits the kitchen, which Sinn said cost $175,000. Appliances include a Sub-Zero refrigerator, two Fisher & Paykel dishwashing drawers incorporated into the kitchen island and a Viking warming drawer built into cabinetry next to a Viking range. The range has six burners, a griddle area and standard and convection ovens below.

Crown molding atop the 10-foot walls is accented with small corbels, adding a European touch above the custom cabinetry. A bay window contains a breakfast dining area that overlooks the back yard and a neighboring lake, while a sun-lit hearth room to the right is made cozy with couches and a fireplace.

"A lot of money is put into kitchens and baths in custom homes, and this one does follow that pattern. About 10 percent of the house's costs are spent on the kitchen," said Sinn, who noted that the bath area of the master bedroom cost $100,000.

Another detail that's easily missed but no less important is the lighting. In the kitchen area, more than a dozen recessed lights dot the ceiling. Nearly every room of the house has at least two forms of lighting. "You don't want to skimp on lighting," said Sinn, who usually incorporates a mixture of recessed and overhead lighting and chandeliers.

The only major changes the Haseebs requested were to the garage walls and doors. They also changed the carpet in the dining room to a hardwood floor and plan to finish the 3,500-square-foot basement.

Sinn's work isn't quite done yet at the home as she is now helping the Haseebs with the interior design, which she does in about 80 percent of the homes the company works on. For the Haseebs, that will include furniture arrangement and curtains from Samrina's native Pakistan.

Anna Jones is a St. Louis freelance writer

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