“Only 50% of small businesses will ever make it past their 5 year anniversary, and only 30% of those will make it past 10.” – Bureau of Labor Statistics

In January of 1994, founder and President Michelle O’Toole took a leap of faith to start her own company, not knowing the odds of success ahead of her. Twenty-five years later, listed as a top St. Louis based Interior Design firm, Michelle and O’Toole Design Associates have become one of only 2% of all woman owned businesses to ever break $1M in annual sales.

What began as a part time endeavor in Michelle’s basement office – outfitted with used furniture from Color Art, a fax machine, blueprint machine and shiny new computer – quickly became full time within a few short weeks, and her first employee was hired within the next three months.

Amidst rising business success, late night fax orders and the occasional business call sprinkled with puppy barks, the next two years saw the birth of Michelle’s first son, a move out of the basement into downtown Kirkwood and the birth of her daughter just two weeks later. Michelle juggled both motherhood and business ownership, keeping a work/life balance to build something she was proud of.


Michelle’s Home Office in 1994


In October 1998 and January of 1999, Michelle hired two employees that have been integral in creating the long-term success for O’Toole Design. Debbie Stamer and Kim Johnson share Michelle’s vision and business philosophy: what O’Toole Design does is about the people – who we work with and who we work for, as well as the relationships we build along the way.

In the years that followed, Michelle, Debbie, Kim and the rest of the O’Toole Design team focused their work on building upon those relationships and making space work for countless clients. These relationships helped O’Toole Design survive the recession of 2008 and continue to thrive in the subsequent decade.


O’Toole Design’s Shared Office with M+H Architects


For twenty-five years, Michelle and the O’Toole Design team have been a prominent Interior Design fixture in St. Louis and across the country. We celebrate our relationships with our clients and partners, dedicated to making great spaces work. In addition to Michelle’s leadership, O’Toole Design now has three Senior Designers, four Interior Designers, one Creative Director/Graphic Designer and an Administrative Assistant.


L to R: Diane Drury, Heather Jones, Kim Johnson, Debbie Stamer, Michelle O’Toole, Rachel Townsend, Meredith Carmier, Alysa Paladino and Alejandra Arenas


We are incredibly thankful to everyone who has been part of our journey over the past two and a half decades. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your support and friendships. And as we prepare for the next twenty-five years, we welcome the opportunity to build upon our shared experiences and create new relationships for years to come. We look forward to making your space work.