At Home in Arkansas: The interiors of this house are so soothing and elegant. What inspired the look?
Debi Davis: The homeowner, Paul Guess, is a busy executive who travels often, and he wanted his home to be calm and inviting. The cream stucco exterior with strong French overtones was a starting point, leading us toward textural neutrals that would blend inside and out.
AHIA: How did the color palette evolve?
DD: I’m finding that with all that’s going on in the world, my clients are moving away from dark colors and gravitating toward soft shades that are uplifting. I’ve worked with Paul on several previous homes in various cities, and we’ve experimented with different colors. Here, working from the cream color of the exterior, we used a variety of creams and whites inside and mixed in touches of gold or brown depending on whether we wanted a room to be more formal or more casual. Paul liked how light and fresh that looks, and it’s a good fit for this house.
AHIA: What elements did you use to keep a neutral color palette visually interesting?
DD: Textures, in both fabrics and furnishings, are very important when you’re working with neutrals. We mixed silk, linen and velvet, used tufted or quilted looks and lots of details to keep rooms interesting. We complemented the upholstered furniture with gorgeous accent pieces, from a carved console to antique doors used as wall panels and other architectural elements. Contrasts, like a dark, chunky wood next to a light, shiny fabric, work beautifully in a neutral palette as well.
AHIA: This house has a series of rooms that flow from one into the next. Did that present a design challenge?
DD: The rooms are also on the smaller side, so we wrapped them in shades of ivory to blend together easily and to feel more spacious. And we used a mix of antiques and custom furniture throughout the house for continuity from room to room. For instance, Paul’s home office is directly off the foyer, and we furnished it with an antique French table as well as a sofa and armchairs, making it as attractive as any room in the house.
AHIA: How did the homeowner’s lifestyle influence the design?
DD: Paul loves to entertain at home, from small get-togethers to larger events. Because of that, he wanted an elegant home, but one that is still livable. Mixing in old with new, and polished with more rough-hewn textures and pieces, helped achieve that. You can transition from spaces that are dressy to ones that are casual and never miss a beat if you use the right materials. A home can be beautiful and refined yet still easy and livable.
AHIA: You mentioned working with the homeowner on his previous residences. Were you able to use some of his existing pieces in this house?
DD: The majority of the items are ones Paul has acquired through the years and used in different homes. When you buy good pieces, both old and new, they transition through your life. You can change a fabric, change a color—there’s so much you can do with your investment pieces if you’re creative. Paul has a wonderful set of antique French dining chairs, and in his previous home, they were covered in brown mohair for a clubby look, whereas here, the space called for a more elegant style and we recovered them in cream silk damask. When you make smart investments, pieces last over time.
Interior design Debi Davis Interior Design, Little Rock
Floral design Distinctive Designs by Tanarah, Maumelle
Landscaping The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock
Furnishings Cobblestone & Vine, Debi Davis Interior Design, Marshall Clements, Little Rock
Lamps The Shade Above, Little Rock
Lighting Light Innovations, Little Rock
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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.