At home with Cindy Buchheit

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Cindy Buchheit inside her rehabbed Cape Girardeau home. (Laura Simon)

The first time Cindy Buchheit saw her 108-year-old house, the front steps were covered in ice. She and a friend climbed onto the front porch while holding onto the banisters. "Looking inside through the front door I could see into the foyer -- the steps that led to the second floor, the wood paneling and all of the original hardwood flooring," Buchheit says. The interior designer -- she owns Unique Ambiance LLC -- was sold.

She and her husband, Ron, began the long process of renovation in summer 2010 by clearing the property of overgrown bushes, trees and poison ivy. That fall the real work began: replacing the windows, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, interior plaster walls with drywall; replastering some of the brick walls; tearing out a bay window to make room for French doors; turning a bathroom into a bedroom and a bedroom into a bathroom; the list goes on. The only thing that remained original was the hardwood floors, and those were refinished. "It's practically a new house inside an old shell," Buchheit says.

Flourish: What attracted you to the house?

Cindy Buchheit: I had a friend show me the house and she said that it needed a good owner. The front steps were covered in ice at that time, but we pulled ourselves up onto the front porch holding onto the banisters. Looking inside through the front door I could see into the foyer -- the steps that led to the second floor, the wood paneling and all of the original hardwood flooring. Another perk was all of the brick work that the Dirnbergers (one of the original owners) had added to the back of the house.


Flourish: What is your favorite room in the home and why?

Buchheit: The kitchen. The way that the house is located on the property, you more than likely will come in through the back of the house, so the first room that you enter is the kitchen. As the first room in the house, I really wanted to knock people's socks off when they first walked in. I wanted this room to scream the overall feel that I wanted to give the house, which is classy with touches of vintage and modern mixed in. We were able to take the ugliest and most intimidating room and turn it into our favorite.

Flourish: What is an interesting feature about the home?

Buchheit: I know people have seen a lot of exposed brick in commercial settings, which I love, but we were able to have exposed brick as well. The house was built with all of the exterior walls having three brick thick, which means no studs and no insulation. These days when houses are built they stud up the walls, insulate and then add one layer of brick, stone or siding to the exterior. A lot of the plaster was already separating itself from the brick, so after removing the rest of it, we talked to our HVAC supplier and he said that plaster doesn't really have an R, value and with having three brick thick, we already had better insulation than any other house on the market right now. With this being said, we were able to keep the brick exposed.

Flourish: What do you enjoy about living in a historical home?

Buchheit: Where do I begin? I have been able to meet some of the other families that have lived here and have been able to hear stories and see pictures. The history about the house is interesting (it was originally called the "Hirsch House" because the founder of KFVS12 built it), and I love the historic little neighborhood where the house is located. It sat vacant for so long, and we have been able to clean up the property to make the neighborhood more attractive, and we have brought the house back to life. We are very close to downtown and right in the middle of it all. The trees are already full-grown, my nieces and nephews love the small door under the stairs, the tall ceilings, all of the trim and the exposed brick. I could go on and on.

Flourish: How would you describe your style?

Buchheit: Classy vintage modern. As an interior designer, I have developed a respect for all styles, but this is what I have whittled it down to.