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At home: Her midcentury home in Lakeshire is one she used to know as a child
At home with Lara and Ehren Leonberger

At home: Her midcentury home in Lakeshire is one she used to know as a child

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As a child Lara Leonberger lived just a few streets away from the home where she and her husband, Ehren, now reside in Lakeshire, a city in St. Louis County. As a teenager she had frequently followed the path through a thick wood at the edge of the property to explore the vast grounds of Sunset Memorial Cemetery. “I passed this house many times and always admired it, even as a child,” she recalls.

In 2015, the couple purchased another home just a few blocks away, to be close to Lara’s parents, who still live in the family home where Lara was raised.

Then in 2018, when their daughter was 4 months old, they heard that this house was going to be for sale. “We bought it before it was listed,” Lara says.

Ironically the prior owners also grew up in Lakeshire and had also admired the home as children.

While the 1952 home features a midcentury modern design on the outside, the interior had undergone some unusual modifications the couple are steadily changing to fit their own lifestyle.

“It looked like a lawyer’s office,” Lara says remarking that the walls in the den, living and dining rooms were covered in dark wood paneling, and floors were carpeted. Most walls have now been painted a soothing shade of off-white, and the carpeted floors have been replaced with light-colored oak plank flooring.

Several decorative areas of wood molding in the living room were left mid-wall and are now used as picture frames. Inside the molding, black and white family photos are displayed as if the pictures were hanging in an art gallery.

A 6-foot-by-12-foot-stained-glass window in the family room is noteworthy due to its size and history. Ehren says neighborhood lore is that it came out of the Famous-Barr building in downtown St. Louis.

Lara’s natural artistic talent is evident throughout. Rooms are highlighted by a collection of colorful, creative area rugs she selected, and she created the paper cutouts of owls in their daughter’s bedroom. She also did a small pastel hanging in the master bathroom of their former home. “We really loved that house, and it comforts me to have some reminders of it,” she says.

Lara designed a new master bath, adding a double sink vanity and a tub/shower combination where there had only been a single sink and a shower. She also repurposed a tall antique hutch as a freestanding bathroom cabinet, painting it a light gray to complement the light beige wall and bath tile she selected. Inside, she finished the hutch with wallpaper that blends with the tile.

The couple added back a wall in the master bedroom to create a second bedroom for their 2-year old daughter. “The owners had removed it to create one large bedroom suite,” Ehren says.

In both bedrooms the windows on two walls meet at a corner, affording a 180-degree view of the woods beyond, which are home to deer and several barred owls.

An acre lot allows the outdoor pool to be offset from the back of the home, where it becomes a destination. The walk to the water first passes a large patio enclosed by a low stone wall accentuated by built-in planters at the corners. The walk continues through a second small patio and down a hill before arriving at the pool gate.

“We were fortunate the previous owner left us 10 pieces of John Salterini wrought iron furniture,” Lara says. “He was a well-known midcentury furniture designer whose work is still sought by collectors.”

At Home in Affton mid-century ranch

Laura enjoys collecting area rugs, and the daughter’s bedroom displays two on the floor layered on top of each other. The owls on the walls are paper cutouts Lara created before their daughter was born. Several real barred owls live in the woods nearby.

 Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

The couple spent a month last summer removing overgrown shrubbery and taking down a collapsed stone retaining wall in front of the home. Reusing the same stone, they reconstructed the wall themselves, and then landscaped the area anew. “It was a lot of work, but we are happy with how it turned out,” Ehren says.

The residence features exceptionally large windows in the front and back, and from the street passersby can clearly see through the residence into the backyard. “When it is snowing, it looks like we are living inside a snow globe,” Lara says laughing.

At Home in Affton mid-century ranch

Ehren and Lara Leonberger, in their Affton mid-century ranch home, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

Lara and Ehren Leonberger

Ages • He is 37; she is 32.

Home • Lakeshire

Occupation • He is an engineer with Ross & Baruzzini Inc., and she works in organizational development with Nestle Purina.

Family • Daughter Lidia is 2. The family also has two cats named Tycho and Hannah.

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