The eclectic decor mixes antique furnishings with the latest contemporary styles from Mossa Center, combined with walls glowing with the rich colors of acrylic and oil paintings, as well as many water colors, all the work of St. Louis artists.
The Riven/Goldman menage has been restoring the stately home over the last 15 years, a project they began two years after they purchased the house. They had lived there only a year when the opportunity came for Goldman to take a sabbatical at Columbia University in New York. The family sublet their house, and, on their return, began in earnest its restoration.
As they explained it, a wall of kitchen cabinets had been painted and their glass panels obscured with wallpaper. To their amazement and pleasure, after stripping the paint and the appliqued wallpaper from the front, they found pine wood, glass-fronted cabinets. They restored them to their original beauty, along with an oak counter top rubbed to a rich glow over new white metal storage cabinets.
Even on an overcast day, the white-painted kitchen is alive with natural light. Two big windows look out over a brick patio and gardens that include a playhouse/gym on stilts and two basketball nets, both at the back of the yard.
On the southern wall between the two modern windows are the counter-top burners and in-the-wall ovens. A breakfast area is on the west side of the room, where French doors overlook the brick patio.
This old house has seen lots of living. The revitalization included uncovering sliding pocket doors between the living room and dining room, and between the music room and the hall, then stripping them of paint to recover the fine veneer (cherry and oak) underneath.
Creative utilization of space involved putting the stereo system and its accompanying discs, tapes and records under the stairwell in the house’s center, then running the wires across the basement ceiling to the speakers in the living room – for all the pleasure of good recordings without the clutter.
Clean-cut and crisp interior design starts with pewter-gray wallpaper on the wainscoting, off-white, pearly-hued, textured paper on the top of the walls to the white ceiling, and white-painted wood moldings.
Facing each other across an Oriental rug are two cubes of modern lounge chairs and matching sofa in a subtle print of gray, blue and lilac upholstery fabric. A large square coffee table of nubby glass and chrome metal dominates the room. These pieces came from Mossa. But a bentwood rocker in pine is a grace note in the stark design of the other furniture pieces.
Behind the sofa is a corner hanging wall cabinet from 1820 of pecan wood, curving front and brass key lock intact. Flanking the fireplace with its 1930s mantel and 1990s slate, brass and glass fire screen is a small wooden table inlaid with satinwood, in keeping with the architecture of the original home.
The ceramic shark on the mantel, teamed with a copper tankard and a pewter pitcher, is by Sam Goldman, 14, a student at Whitfield Academy. The large ceramic sculpture of spiraled stacks of glazed triangles is by Josh Goldman, 18, a senior at John Burroughs.
Through the archway between living room and dining room, one sees a handsome beamed ceiling painted white. The gray and white motif of the downstairs continues in white polka-dotted wallpaper, a witty touch in a room of classical elegance. There’s a Sheraton buffet table, its characteristic serpentine front glowing with polish well rubbed, and a Sheraton table with curved edges ornamented with a satinwood band and double pedestal supports with brass-tipped clawed feet.
In the hallway is a graceful, round, drop-leaf table bearing a pewter lamp Riven found in the “Shop to Your Art’s Content” boutique in COCA, a name Goldman submitted anonymously for the boutique in a contest COCA ran. (He won, but didn’t get the prize because he is Riven’s husband.) The rich, dark-red area rug, patterned in blue, gray and green, is a Kelim the couple found in Santa Fe.
What stands out in this home is the strong artwork on all the walls that the Riven/Goldmans have been collecting. Most is the work of St. Louis artists, such as Peter Marcus, Ken Anderson, Michael Eastman, Phyllis Plattner, Dorothy Dubinsky (who founded COCA) and Stewart Halperin.
The music room is a particularly happy place, its upright Steinway piano anchoring a wall of bookcases with both books and tapes, its mantelpiece holding a banjo.