Date: November 1, 2023 | Story: Rebekah Hall Scott | Photography: Rett Peek |
A lifelong passion for architecture materializes as a Little Rock resident’s dream home overlooking the Arkansas River
Nestled high in the treetops above the Arkansas River, a contemporary gem glitters with 80 feet of continuous glass windows. A Little Rock couple built it as their dream house after their children flew the nest, and it’s based on a concept one of the homeowners has envisioned since adolescence. “When I was exposed to Architectural Digest magazine at 16, I’d never seen anything like it before, and it kind of changed my life,” he says. He originally majored in architecture before switching to business, but his passion for design remained. “I love it; it’s my hobby,” he says.
Finally, in 2015, he had the opportunity to begin realizing the home he’d been sketching in the margins of notebooks and on cocktail napkins for decades. After seeing a contemporary house featured in At Home in Arkansas, a series of fateful occurrences led the homeowner to realize the lot he’d been considering for his future residence—a steep incline high on a ridge with a view of the Arkansas River—was meant to be his. They began building in 2019 and, after delays caused by the pandemic, moved in in 2021.
The house’s construction was a unique process. First, the homeowner had Wendell Kinzler, a friend and architect, review his designs. Because it was being constructed on the side of a steep hill, the foundation needed to be incredibly sturdy. “This is built like an office building out of big steel beams that are 15 to 18 inches thick,” the homeowner says. At the same time, he wanted the entire back of the home to be “nothing but glass.” “When you walk in, your mind goes, Wow! What am I seeing?” he says. “It’s an 80-foot room with no sheetrock to block your view.”
Larry West, Jr. of L West Jr Designs is a longtime friend of the homeowners and helped furnish the finished space. “You literally feel like you’re sitting in a treehouse,” Larry says of his experience in the home. “The way he designed the house, where it folds outwards instead of inwards, allows you to see many directions at once.”
The couple loves to host, and they have held many parties and charitable events in the great room encompassing the living area, dining space, and kitchen. They even plan to host an intimate wedding in the home soon. “We built this to entertain,” the homeowner says. “We’ve had 50, 60, 70 people in this room at one time, and it’s not crowded.”
Though decades have passed since he first flipped through the inspiring pages of Architectural Digest, this homeowner is thrilled to finally live within his actualized dream. “It all worked out beautifully,” the homeowner says. “It’s hard when you’re drawing a house and imagining it, but I think in the end, I would not change a thing.”
Treetop Perch, River Views
Facing north, the structure is a celebration of glass and steel while feeling right at home in an expanse of trees. “I saw pictures of homes with these gorgeous views in Architectural Digest, and I said, ‘Some day, when it’s the right time for my family, that’s what I want to do,’” the homeowner says. The home’s main living spaces—kitchen, living, and dining—are on the middle of three floors, while the primary suite and office are upstairs. A lower level offers guest quarters.
Clean and Classic
The homeowner wanted the furnishings to be contemporary yet timeless with midcentury silhouettes. “I want those classic pieces designed by world-famous designers from the ’60s, because that’s the era of architecture and furniture I like.” For example, a pair of Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chairs in tan leather provide stylish seating in the living room. The wood coffee table has a 213-year-old tree running through it, a number the homeowner is sure of because “you can count the rings, and I’ve counted the rings,” he says.
Interior designer Larry West says the homeowners desired a glossy finish for the cabinets to help reflect light from the windows back into the room. A bold geometric design for the tile backsplash reiterates the industrial feel of the kitchen while also serving as an art installation.
Bringing Outside In
The homeowner says he wanted the home to feel like an art gallery, with warm wood touches and natural textures to keep it from feeling too austere. “No matter what wall you’re looking at, you’re looking at art,” he says. “Including God’s art,” adds his wife, gesturing to the expanse of windows. To keep the space from feeling too sterile, they brought in live potted trees and wood touches, such as the olive wood dining table from Turkey.
“It’s an amazing place to wake up. I pinch myself and go, I live here.”
“When we’re sleeping, our feet are this far from the glass, facing out, so you literally feel like you’re floating on air,” the homeowner says. Outside, lights from Two Rivers Park Bridge illuminate the home at night. “It’s neat to have that low glow out there,” he adds.
Architect Wendell Kinzler, AIA, Polk Stanley Wilcox Interior design Larry West, L West Jr Designs Appliances Metro Appliances & More Art, bedding, furniture, and rugs L West Jr Designs Cabinetry Elite Custom Cabinets Countertops The Stone Collection and Stone Art by Miguel Mirrors and windows Jones Glass Tile Akel’s Carpet One