Natasia Sexton’s home is a darling combination of classic and modern.

Nestled among the cozy and sought-after homes on Elmerine Avenue sits a yellow giraffe-stone cottage owned by Natasia Sexton. With the guidance of her contractor, Shane Kampeter, Natasia has transformed her little home while still preserving much of its original beauty. Through the process, the two took the walls down to the studs, largely because the house had no central heat or air conditioning.

“It was very much a labor of love for Shane, as he has lived across the street for many years,” says Natasia.

Natasia strived to maintain the cottage feel while also keeping the look contemporary and clean. Black wood windows, which contrast with the light stone exterior, for example, meet the double criteria. 

The Magic of Elmerine

Natasia first moved to the street in May 2009, returning to Missouri after 20 years away.

“When I first moved to Elmerine, I had two dogs that I would walk up and down the street, and I actually used to fantasize about this front porch and the little area where the sidewalk divides,” says Natasia, referring to what’s now her house. “I always thought about how fun it would be to landscape the area.”

The previous occupant was an elderly man, and when Natasia would walk her dogs past, he would always have treats for them.

“In the past two years, I’ve had to put my dogs down and I’ve sort of told friends and neighbors that the dogs will be able to find me here because they would always love to visit on our walks.”

Interior of Natasia Sexton's living room looking at the piano and into the dining room.
Acquiring a HUD Home

Years passed, and Natasia heard her dream home was going to be for sale. Because it was a HUD house — owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development — she did extensive research to ensure she was prepared and ready to make an offer.

“I knew I didn’t want to leave Elmerine. It is quite a magical street. The sidewalks and front porches all really encourage neighborhood gatherings,” Natasia says. “It’s the type of street where everyone knows everyone’s dogs. And that is not an exaggeration at all.” 

Before the bid process started, neighbors saw the home was being appraised. Natasia made calls to her lender and HUD-certified real estate agent, Sharon Keating at Re/Max Jefferson City, before the “For Sale” sign was even in the yard. She purchased the home through a blind bidding process, which was open for a two-week window to owner-occupant purchasers, allowing Natasia to change her bid as needed due to the heavy foot traffic. 

Once the house was officially in her name, the work began. 

Interior of Natasia Sexton's dining room.
Creating a Timeless Space

With the cottage being a small space, Natasia knew she wanted things to feel more timeless than trendy. The key was making it feel warm and welcoming while making the most of the living area, dining room, and kitchen.

Natasia was particular about what colors would grace her walls, and with the assistance of Korie Bock at Scruggs Lumber, she was able to find the perfect ones, including Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, First Light. 

 Walking inside, guests are greeted by her piano and other pieces she’s collected while traveling through the years. Natasia, a music professor at Westminster College, has filled her home with meaningful décor to tie in subtle color, such as a locally painted original by Jane Mudd, a Tree of Life from Egypt, several pieces from Greece, and family heirlooms that were passed down or gifted for milestones in her life, like when she got her PhD.

Natasia Sexton sits at her dining room table, ukelele in hand for a portrait.

Natasia’s team was able to save the original inlay walnut floors of the home, and when Shane removed paneling during the renovations, he discovered exposed brick, which they kept in the dining room and around the fireplace in the living room. Large windows with southern light and wide windowsills can be found in the dining room, which Natasia is eager to fill with plants this spring.

Natasia and Shane also removed a wall between the dining room and kitchen, which opened up the two rooms, allowing the sun to shine through both spaces. To make up for the smaller floor plan, storage was essential to the kitchen. Custom cabinets from local cabinet maker Gerald Holzer outline the room in Italian Ice Green by Benjamin Moore, with negresco granite countertops and floating shelves flanking the sink. 

Off the kitchen, a wood door opens up to a deck where Natasia loves to watch cedar waxwings fly around in her cedar and walnut tree-filled backyard every morning.

Interior of Natasia Sexton's office looking into the floor to ceiling built in bookcase.

Just beyond the main living area is Natasia’s bedroom, as well as the house’s bathroom, a functional and gorgeous space where tile and accents from other areas of the cottage are tied in. The many highlights of the bathroom include black matte hardware, an onyx shower base, a remnant countertop from Carved in Stone, and a tiled shower shelf. Even the double doors serve as a way to maximize space. The nearby office was created with storage in mind, with floor to ceiling built-ins for books and room to spare for the day Natasia retires.

“I really don’t think of this house as mine, but rather that I’m the current occupant of the house,” says Natasia. “It’s more about my responsibility to preserve this space and maintain some of the vibe and aesthetic that was here before.”

Resource List
  • Shane Kampeter, Contractor
  • Carved in Stone, Countertops 
  • Gerald Holzer, Cabinetry 
  • JCL Hardwoods, Flooring 
  • Jeff Feeler, Landscaping
  • Korie Bock, Scruggs Lumber, Tile, Paint, Windows
  • Luecke’s Roofing, Roof
  • Sharon Keating, Realtor, Re/Max Jefferson City
  • Quaker Windows,  Windows 
Local Artists
  • Gail Barnickol, Weaving 
  • Jerry Hoffmann of Hoffmann Lutherie, Custom Ukeles
  • Jane Mudd, Painting