Business Loft Remodel
Aptitude recently completed a commercial project for St. Louis attorney Thayer Weaver, whose law firm’s swanky Grand Center Arts District space needed a remodel after the roof caved in and destroyed the second floor. After working with insurance companies and adjusters, as well as planning the design of the space, the end result is an updated loft that preserves the exposed brick and historical features of the building’s original construction. We spoke with Aptitude owner and top St. Louis contractor Matt Mierek about the project.
Tell us a bit about the background of this project.
We had done some previous work with Thayer before this particular project. The remodel was set up so that his office space is on the first floor and the second floor is a loft, which has a more homey feel that he can use to entertain clients. He had a roofing company come in to replace his roof, but while they were removing it, they didn’t realize the substructure had rotted out in several places. The roof ended up caving in and destroying the second floor. There was dirt, gravel and soot everywhere—it almost looked like fire damage.
When he called us, we were able to step in and help him through the first part of the process, which was working with the insurance company and adjusters to make sure he received the money he was owed; that’s really how everything started. Once we got through that, we began planning the design phase. We didn’t change everything around—he just wanted to give it a bit of a facelift. He let us know the general feel and color scheme of what he wanted to see, which is a little eclectic but still modern. He also really wanted to keep the historical look of the building’s interior intact—the exposed brick, for example—to create that elegant loft look with some color.
What were some hurdles you ran into, and how did you navigate around them?
The biggest navigation of that whole project was working with the insurance company and guiding the client through that process. We helped ensure the insurance company paid for everything that needed to be fixed. Then we had another roofing company come in and repair the roof. Once those two phases were complete, we were able to start working on the design.
What’s one of your favorite design features of this space, and what kind of building materials did you use to achieve the look?
The redesigned fireplace is a really prominent design feature of this space. We used an Italian white Carrara marble with greyish-black veining, which can be difficult to find. We lined up the design to make it look like one big piece of marble—which wasn’t in the client’s budget, but we were able to pull off a similar effect by buying more tile than we needed and assembling the pieces so that the patterning matched up. Before we redid the fireplace, it had been drywalled, and had very little appeal. It also has a floating concrete hearth on it, which gives it a more modern feel. It’s a really cool design piece.
Another design component that turned out nicely is the suspended ceiling. It has a white drywall perimeter with wood paneling over the center, and inlaid lights. Thayer was actually traveling for work in New York and saw a similar design at a restaurant. He took a picture, sent it to us and said, “Can we do something like this?” It was a great piece of inspiration, one of his own design ideas we ended up using. Clients generally look to us to make decisions about what will and won’t work, but we do always try to incorporate ideas. And we’re honest with them about what we think.
What has the client response been?
Thayer loves it. We actually sponsored his 15-year anniversary party there, where we got to meet a lot of his clients and hear his thoughts about the space. People loved it. It’s a great office space, but the second floor feels more like a home. It has a nice bathroom and shower, in case he’s there working long hours. He told us it’s totally “him,” which is very true. It’s a real representation of his style and ideas, with our twist.