DIY projects, mid-century style home makeover in Lindenwood Park | home and garden

By Jim Winnerman Special to the Post-Dispatch

Guests arriving at the Rustige Residence are greeted by a friendly greeting from the patio flag that flies on the lawn. It reads “hello friends”. On the balcony, double turquoise pots match the color of the front door, a color that symbolizes confidence and calm. Two pink flamingos bracket the porch staircase, adding a bit of whimsy before the word “hello,” painted on the front door, appears.

It’s a nice compliment to a home that has seen so many big do-it-yourself improvement projects in the four years that Adam and Amy Rustige have owned a brick, three-bedroom, three-bathroom bungalow in Lindenwood Park. Adam credits five years in the Navy service in the Construction Battalion (known as the Seabees) for giving him some of the experience he needed.

The first project was to remove an arched passage between the living and dining rooms to open up the space, allowing the rooms to flow together seamlessly.

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The wall between the living room and the dining room was marked by an arch, and it was solid on both sides. Adam rebuilt the wall, removing the arch and adding transparent shelves to display the pairs of antique radios and jugs designed by Russell Wright, a pioneer in bringing design to everyday household items in the 1930s and 1940s.

Christian Godin

Adam also built a series of translucent niches in the walls on either side of the new driveway. Stacked one on top of the other and individually lit, the couple use the open shelves to display some of the range of mid-century modern items they value. Foremost among them are several pitchers by Russell Wright, who is considered a pioneer in bringing design to everyday household items in the 1930s and 1940s.

To open the space further, a wall flanking the staircase leading to the second floor was removed and replaced with a stair railing.

“The second floor was a teenage ‘mancav’, and gross,” Amy recalls. “Apparently, the sons of the previous owner were teenage boys who could do whatever they wanted there. The ceiling was only six feet high, and the walls were flimsy sheets of plywood.”

“Remodeling this area was the biggest home improvement project I’ve ever dealt with,” Adam says. “It took 15 months to convert the space into a master bedroom suite with a cathedral ceiling.”

The project also included the addition of a bathroom with the bathtub that Amy had always wanted, and a spacious wardrobe complete with her own chandelier. “This light is the only ‘feminine’ thing in the house,” Amy says.

Then Adam installed a washer and dryer on the second floor. “How it became so usual for me to have a first floor or a utility room downstairs, I’ll never know,” he says.

Now, with an accent wall painted mid-century orange, floating side tables made by Adam, and patterned bed linens in geometric and rectangular shapes, the suite feels like staying in a mid-century modern five-star hotel. “I just love it here,” Amy says. “Adam even built a place in the wall where dogs can sleep.”

The former homeowner was a contractor and made many improvements to the residence that the Rustiges enjoyed. The kitchen featured an adjoining family room and was spacious thanks to the outside balcony, which was surrounded. Large windows that have been added allow for a 180 degree view of a large grassy schoolyard nearby.

Also, the lower level already had a home theater that the cinema-loving couple were excited to discover. Now a 108-inch screen, complete with red velvet side curtains, they enjoy Wednesday night movies in the comfort of two giant reclining chairs. Their wedding invitation, designed to look like an old movie poster, is on one wall. Favorite quotes from famous movies are drawn on another movie. A popcorn machine and video game complete the setup.

Their passion for St. Louis and the mid-century modern era also appears in their art. Framed posters show pictures of a TWA advertisement, articles on the longtime Parkmoor Drive-In on Clayton Road, and the “nave building” on Grand Avenue at the University of St. Court Motel.

“Most were bought from STL-Style on Cherokee Street,” Adam says. The store only carries St. Louis-themed merchandise.

A 1950s TV cabinet that once housed an early black and white TV screen with rounded edges now displays a color palette of a small beach scene with beach chairs. Look closely and it will be clear that the couple reused it as an aquarium. “We just found the old rabbit ears antenna on the top,” Adam says as two small fish swim next to them.

After four years of home improvement projects, Adam says he’s now taking a breather. Amy says she’s making a list of things to do.

“She paints it, I build it,” he adds. The perfect team.

At Home With: Amy & Adam Rustige's Lindenwood Park home

Amy Rostig, right, is responsible for much of the design and decor of this mid-century style Lindenwood Park home, pictured Tuesday, September 13, 2022, while her husband Adam Rostig, left, does most of the building for her. Olly, Left, and Dudley are roommates. Photo by Christian Goden, [email protected]

Christian Godin

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