The addition to the historic Kirkwood home honors the original architecture


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When George and Julie Sells first walked into the living room of their 1920 Kirkwood Colonial in 2008, they knew this was the home for them. With its original crown molding, paneling, fireplace, built in bookshelves and window seat, it had all the cozy charm they were looking for.

“We’ve always loved old houses,” Julie says of the historical details.

Sells recently completed a refurbishment which has made room for an enlarged kitchen and master bedroom suite. Video by Hillary Levin

The couple had been living and working in New York at the time – both had previous media careers and first met in Louisville, where she worked at the local newspaper and he at a local TV station. Their son Quinn was just a toddler and not having family close by was a challenge. The Sellses decided to move to St. Louis, Julie’s hometown, to be closer to her family and to allow her family to continue growing.

They searched for homes throughout St. Louis, but loved Kirkwood for its charming downtown, easy walkability, great schools, and proximity to town where they spend a lot of time.

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The house, once part of a larger farm, was in good condition and had only two previous owners. The Sellses carried out some basic renovations, e.g. B. Replacing the front door and hardwood floors throughout the first floor. Then, in late 2021, they began their first major renovation project – a two-story addition to the rear of the home, including a new kitchen, breakfast room, mud room/pantry, and master suite on the second floor.

“We didn’t really need the square footage, it was about the way it was configured,” says George of the project, for which they hired the Kirkwood-based Agape Construction team.

The kitchen was small and locked. Previous owners had lowered the ceiling from its original height, making it feel even more cramped. The upstairs master bedroom did not have an ensuite bathroom.

The new kitchen is part of a larger addition completed in July by Kirkwood-based Agape Construction. The Sellses collaborated with agape designer Edie Rice on the clean black and white palette with brass accents.

Hillary Levin

“We gave them a list of everything we’d complained about for years,” George says of the Agape team, led by owner Kevin O’Brien, who has a reputation for preserving older homes. They worked with the firm’s architect, Ed Heine, on the overall design, which supported the original elegant staircase and honored the home’s history and architecture.

“They really took the time to match all the baseboards and moldings,” says Julie. “You don’t have the feeling of going into the annex of the house.”

The living room the Sellses first fell in love with now leads seamlessly into the sunny new breakfast room, lined with large windows overlooking the lush, green courtyard and mature trees. The breakfast room opens up to the enlarged and redesigned kitchen, which is built around a large center island with seating for the whole family. Agape’s in-house designer, Edie Rice, was instrumental in selecting the finishes.

Julie took inspiration from Houzz and HGTV and used her favorite elements to guide the design. The kitchen is clean black and white with brass accents and stainless steel appliances.

For the large center island, they switched the color scheme with black cabinets topped with an extra thick slab of veined white quartz. StoneTrends in Chesterfield manufactured all the countertops. Locally sourced brass lantern style pendants from Wilson Lighting complete the look.

“We used whatever was local, which is cool,” Julie says. “It’s nice when you have a local showroom that you can go in and look at and touch things.”

The Sellses hired another local company, the Closet Factory, and their designer, Jesse Chall, to create a highly organized new pantry and mudroom alongside the kitchen with space for everything. The pantry has power outlets for small appliances so they can be kept away from the main workspace and out of sight. Chall also worked with the couple to design the new walk-in closet next to the master bedroom to precise specifications of the type and number of clothes and shoes that would fit inside.

The second floor extension expanded daughter Samantha’s former bedroom to create a new master suite with a Juliet balcony overlooking the backyard and a spacious, light-filled bathroom with a sleek free-standing bath and separate glass-enclosed shower. They designed the bathroom around the intricately patterned black and white floor tiles, which had a very personal inspiration.

“We went to France for our 20th anniversary and stayed in this little loft in a town called Dijon and they had almost exactly that tile in the bathroom,” Julie recalls. “I told George we’ll find this tile one day.”

The newly designed second floor leaves the previous master bedroom open as a new guest room. Teenagers Quinn and Samantha each have their own spacious bedrooms and separate bathrooms.

With the addition just completed in July, the Sellses are settling back in and enjoying how well the new and old spaces of the home complement each other. Next, they plan to build a large patio around the new breakfast room, which is now one of their favorite spots in the house.

At home with the Sells in Kirkwood

George and Julie Sells of Kirkwood, with their son Quinn, 17, their daughter Samantha, 13, and Ollie, the family dog, outside their Kirkwood home, Saturday, September 17, 2022. Photo by Hillary Levin, [email protected] com

Hillary Levin


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