Amy and Jim Studt were in their early 20s in 1987 when they bought their dream home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Kirkwood. At the time, the house, built in 1896, was a simple four-over-four-room dwelling with a curved wrap-around front porch and a tiny turret room on the second floor. It had undergone only minor improvements since its original construction, which proved both an opportunity and a challenge.
The house was built wired for electricity, although Kirkwood’s electric plant would not exist for another decade. Much of that original wiring was still in place when the Studts moved in. Jim, an electrical engineer, knew this had to be rectified immediately. With no indoor plumbing at the time, the house was also built sans bathroom with just an outhouse in the backyard, the location of which was covered over with a concrete slab that was still present when the couple moved in. For heat, the original house had just one central coal-burning fireplace.
Over the years, Jim and Amy undertook a number of major renovations and additions, the first beginning in 1990, when Amy was pregnant with the couple’s oldest daughter, Audrey. They added a covered porch on the home’s south side (with plans to eventually screen it in) and renovated the kitchen for the first time since the late 1940s. Other eventual additions and improvements included reconfiguring the master bedroom to allow for a larger bathroom, enlarging the second floor laundry room, turning the side porch into a three-season sun room and adding a cozy sleeping porch on the second floor.
“This is the room that started it all,” says Amy. “I had dreamed for years of what the perfect sleeping porch would look like.” She wanted to make it appear as if it had once been an open-air porch that was closed in. To that end, she had the same cedar shake siding from the outside of the house brought in on one wall and added bead board on the ceiling to mimic the other porches. Amy also dreamed of collecting vintage chenille bedspreads and now uses the sleeping porch beds to display her growing collection.
Another favorite spot is the cozy turret, in which Jim built a platform fitted with a custom mattress and completed with pillows as the perfect nook for reading or watching TV and movies on the wall-mounted Apple TV. “Jim said the turret should look like you’re relaxing inside Jeannie’s bottle,” Amy says.
In 2015, the historic property next door to the Studts’ went on the market. With a strong sensitivity and desire to preserve another old Kirkwood gem, the couple bought the house with the intent to renovate and resell it. Once they dug in, however, it became clear that the architecture was no longer sound enough to be a viable renovation. They decided to remove the home while salvaging and reusing as much of its materials as possible and combine the two lots.
The home’s original stone foundation was saved and rebuilt, providing a decorative wall to the east of the Studts’ house. The couple salvaged several windows, doors and porch columns and incorporated them into their own house. They also reconstructed the original garage and painted it pink. “I’ve always wanted a little pink house,” says Amy. “Now I have one.”
Unique sculptures and furniture by Amy’s artist father Don Pavelka are on display throughout the house, and Amy’s own artistic stamp can be seen in each room as well. Over the past 30 years, the Studts have created a home that is intriguing, colorful and bursting with personality and charm.
Amy and Jim Studt
Ages • Amy is 53, and Jim is 54.
Occupations • Both Amy and Jim are retired and enjoy RV travel and spending time with their grandchildren.
Home • Kirkwood
Family • The Studts have two grown daughters, Audrey, 27, and Alaina, 23, and two grandchildren.