Khimonna Stith knew she would one day live in a historic home that fit her lifestyle and her design aesthetic. That day came in 2021 when she began renovating her first home in the Skinker DeBalivere neighborhood.

Twenty-plus years ago Stith earned her undergraduate degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from St. Louis University. She completed her master’s degree in marketing at Webster University. She worked at Compass Rose, a small marketing firm headed by Sharon Derry. Susie Gudermuth, a force known for restoration and community building in Tower Grove South, was one of their clients. Her work there kindled the spark in her to one day find and rehab a historic home.


The open plan living room and dining room features the stained glass from the original Talayna’s on Skinker Boulevard above the original window seat. The mix of a farmhouse wooden table, modern chairs and bench, the bold wall color and the elephant painting on the wall show Stith’s skills in blending styles.

Today, Stith is the operations manager at De Long Construction and Remodeling. She also functions in that capacity for one of owner Michael De Long’s passion projects, Speakeasy Café in Carondelet. She and De Long became close friends through their work.

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“This house is a dream I always had. I wrote down my dreams and shared them with him when I first partnered with Michael,” she says. “He knew I wanted to find a house for me and my son, Robbie,” who is 10.

Stith found her home through her work selling real estate in May 2021, but knew it was a tricky proposition. A previous investor had started and stopped a renovation on the 1913 Craftsman-style house, so the acquisition wouldn’t be as straightforward as a finished home with a regular mortgage.

De Long encouraged her to take the plunge. “Michael looked at the house and told me to think about it. I had saved and saved money for this for years, but I was scared,” she says.


The bright orange basement hallway with its beaded curtain and artworks of black women in joyous celebration was designed by Michael De Long.

“I’m someone who takes a lot of time to think things through. Michael’s a jump-first, figure-it-out-later guy. Sometimes it feels like he’s moving fast, but he knew the things I wanted in the house, so I was comfortable moving ahead,” she says. De Long Construction and Remodeling would do the job.

“This house came to fruition through our joint visions in the design and build. That’s what I’m hoping to capture in this story,” she says.

They began work centered around how Stith envisioned the house would function for her family. In February 2022, she and Robbie moved in.

“The first eight years of my son Robbie’s life we lived in an upstairs apartment where I didn’t feel comfortable letting him play outside. It was important to give him a house with a yard and space to play. He loves it,” she says.

De Long designed the yard, adding multiple decks, a gazebo and a fun bridge with space for a boy to explore and to find quiet places.

Stith’s mother also appreciates the connections to the outdoors. “When my mom comes over her favorite thing is listening to music on the deck,” she says. The house has a bedroom for important guests like her mom, who spent time with them in rehab after a hospital stay.


Robbie’s cozy bedroom with his superheroes on the wall and an original Robbie painting on the cubby. His sleep buddy friends wait on the bed.

Stith envisioned a real boy’s room for Robbie. At this stage of his life, they hung superhero art on the walls. Robbie’s collection of stuffed sleep buddies still gather on his bed. “Robbie loves spending time reading, enjoying podcasts, and playing PS5 in his room. He also enjoys movie nights in our finished basement,” she says.

“The basement is all Michael’s design,” Stith says. In addition to the media room with its comfy sectional, De Long created a wine lounge.

De Long collects architectural elements for his projects. He used two of his best finds in Stith’s home. The backlighted window wall of the wine lounge was one of two that hung in the original Talayna’s restaurant. He used the second in Stith’s dining room. “It fit perfectly in the space of the original window seat,” Stith says.

“One of my favorite things is to have dinner parties. I’ve always believed your home is your refuge, and it should embrace you like a warm hug. It’s important that my home does that for my family and any guests who enter. I feel Michael and I achieved that,” she says.


Khimonna Stith, 46, and her son Robbie, 10


The media room, designed by De Long, uses soothing blues, taupes and a just-right dab bright orange to make the room pop. Stith added the orange pillow on the sectional, the silvery wall art of leaves on the far wall and an abstract on the near wall.   


The back porch sanctuary looks out over the gazebo. Black slats on the far wall create a clever privacy screen. The mix of metal and wicker in the furnishings works well in this welcoming sunroom.


The living room of Stith’s home, which was built in 1913, still has its original stained glass windows and fireplace. That’s the same year her college sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, was founded. Stith designed it with elephants in the room, which are the symbol of the that sorority.


Stith brightened the dark green bath by playing with light on the brushed gold faucet, mirror frame and light fixture above the sink, which appears silvery in the photo. She chose the hammered metal art, a botanical print framed in matte gold and a petal-shaped candle holder to repeat the gold motif.  

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