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It was 17 years ago this month that my husband David lured me into the car for a Sunday afternoon drive. The dogwood trees were in full bloom and the colors of spring were a welcome sight. With no itinerary planned, David steered us toward the Heights neighborhood and showed me a house he had coveted from afar for years. As we turned onto Stonewall Road, David looked at me and said, “If this house ever goes on the market, I'm going to find a way to buy it.” Call it coincidence or call it kismet, but the home was indeed for sale by owner, and I immediately shared his love of this Spanish Colonial cottage David had nicknamed the Alamo.
We peered in a plethora of windows and fell for it hard and fast. But others had apparently responded similarly, as there were several notes on the front door beckoning the owners for a showing. We soon realized this wasn't going to be an easy task and quickly got a plan in motion. Persistence paid off and we reached the owners late that afternoon. The keepers of the keys were none other than Brett Pitts and Kevin Walsh, co-owners of Bear-Hill Interiors. When things are meant to be everything falls into place, and within a month the Alamo was ours.
After moving into our new abode, we immediately began construction on a master bedroom and bath addition, and had started to plot out our next renovation phase when our plans were put on hold. Like many folks, life just got in the way of executing our dream home. We had three teenage boys under our roof, which left little time or resources to move forward. We settled in and although it was a bit crowded at times, we embraced our small space and now, as empty-nesters, have come to realize that cottage living suits us best.
Kevin Walsh re-entered our life when the time finally came five years ago to revisit our master plan. David and I had been living among a hodgepodge of furniture, with dark colors on the walls and a tinge of outdated Southwestern-style décor throughout. We desperately needed an overhaul, but couldn't grasp what direction to take or what we desired as an end result. As an interior designer, Walsh had a special knack for tapping into my inner being and helped me find my personal style. Finally.
“We had a fairly clean slate when we started,” says Walsh. “I didn't want the Ashmore home to have a theme, I simply wanted to lighten and loosen up their space.” Under his direction, special pieces stayed and others went away. We began to layer our cottage with soft, comfortable furnishings and soothing colors. “Because of the floor plan of the home, we had to create a cohesiveness that flowed from room to room,” says Walsh. “All the components, like great windows for natural light, textural walls and architectural details, were already in place, we just needed to make the spaces complement one another.”
Once the cosmetic changes were made, a major kitchen renovation began. We had lived with an eyesore of a kitchen for more than a decade and were excited to see the redo come to fruition. The room lacked the practical needs we pined for, as we functioned with minimal cabinet and counter space. The only element that had any charm was a pine cabinet that Walsh and Pitts had stripped, sanded and refinished when they purchased the home as rental property. Of course, all parties agreed that the cabinet needed to stay, and I was then taken out of the design equation as David, the head chef of our household, and Walsh tackled the kitchen without me. We often joke that the house belongs to me, but David owns the kitchen.
David and Walsh worked with Scott Kerr of J&S Cabinet Concepts to create a space that was both practical and aesthetically pleasing, with white tile floors and backsplash, vintage-inspired cabinetry and lighting, and doors leading to the backyard. “It's simple, but it still has high quality appliances and special touches,” says Walsh.
With renovations and interiors complete, we have found that our refurbished cottage is both charmingly cozy and ultimately peaceful. What makes me happiest about life in our cottage is the abundant natural light that streams in through our windows. Every room has an exterior wall with either French doors or windows that serve as natural light fixtures. Throughout the day, when the light changes, each room takes on a different glow, creating a magical transformation to enjoy.
Interior design, furnishings Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock
Appliances Metro Builders Supply, North Little Rock
Art Bear-Hill Interiors, Vesta's, Little Rock; Red Door Gallery, North Little Rock
Bedding, draperies, headboards Mountjoy's Custom Draperies, Mabelvale
Cabinets J&S Cabinet Concepts Inc., Benton
Kitchen flooring American Restoration Tile, Mabelvale
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
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At Home in Arkansas offers your first look inside the state's most inspiring homes in a range of styles. The magazine features monthly advice from the experts to help you plan your next remodel or redesign, entertain at home or find Arkansas' best kept secrets. It is your definitive guide to the state's finest homes and gardens, design professionals, fashion and entertaining essentials, and premier shops and showrooms.